The post-Price era begins today.

What should’ve been a routine off-day in the middle of April turned into quite the eventful ordeal yesterday, as the Reds (3-15) fired manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins after an abysmal start to the season. Today will mark the first game with former bench coach Jim Riggleman at the helm, and he’ll look to right the ship starting against the Cardinals (10-8) on the road at 8:15 p.m. ET.

The Reds, of course, are fresh off an embarrassing display against their division rival, suffering a four-game sweep at home last weekend. Riggleman is unlikely to make any sort of huge difference — the move to elevate him to interim manager was not much more than reshuffling the deck — but there’s almost nowhere else to go but up from here.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Brandon Finnegan 4.1 10.38 5.44 18.2% 18.2%
Michael Wacha 14.2 5.52 4.97 17.7% 14.7%

Brandon Finnegan made his first start of the season last Saturday against these same Cardinals and didn’t look particularly sharp. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up a run in all but one frame (five in total) in what was ultimately a 6-1 Reds loss. St. Louis hitters took Finnegan deep twice, and the usual control problems continued to plague him. He threw only 34.1 percent of his pitches in the strike zone (52 of his 91 pitches for strikes overall) and walked four on the day, including the first two batters of the game. While Finnegan did strike out four, he registered only six swings and misses, further indicating his stuff wasn’t near its best. He threw his changeup — unquestionably his best off-speed pitch — only eight times on the day.

Look out for the two Cs in his start tonight: control and changeup. When Finnegan has both, he looks like a pitcher who can stick in the starting rotation. When he doesn’t have either, well, things get dicey.

Finnegan vs. Cardinals


The Cardinals were hoping this would be the year Michael Wacha finally stays healthy and consistent. So far, only one of those things has happened. Although he holds a 2-1 record, the 2018 season has gotten off to a bumpy start for the 26-year-old, largely due to his control. Through three outings, the right-hander has walked 10 batters in 14 2/3 innings — including three against the Reds last Thursday — and hit the strike zone on only 43.7 percent of his pitches (his career average is 47.6 percent).

Along with control, the top concern for Wacha is his decreased fastball velocity, which sits at an average of 92.9 mph this season after averaging a career-best 95.1 mph in 2017. The uptick in velocity, paired with a personal-best strikeout rate of 22.5 percent last year, had many optimistic a breakout was coming for Wacha. Instead, his strikeout rate is down to 17.7 percent and his swinging-strike rate sits at a poor 7.6 percent. Who knows whether these trends will last — the unseasonably cold weather in the Midwest probably isn’t helping any pitcher — but Wacha certainly looks hittable right now, as the Reds proved last week.

Wacha vs. Reds

Lineups

Reds

Cardinals

RF Jesse Winker (105 wRC+) CF Tommy Pham (155 wRC+)
SS Jose Peraza (50 wRC+) 2B Matt Carpenter (93 wRC+)
1B Joey Votto (63 wRC+) 1B Jose Martinez (174 wRC+)
2B Scooter Gennett (82 wRC+) LF Marcell Ozuna (76 wRC+)
LF Adam Duvall (60 wRC+) C Yadier Molina (123 wRC+)
C Tucker Barnhart (146 wRC) 3B Jedd Gyorko (317 wRC+)
3B Alex Blandino (-54 wRC+) RF Harrison Bader (126 wRC+)
P Brandon Finnegan (5.47 xFIP) SS Paul DeJong (111 wRC+)
CF Billy Hamilton (53 wRC+) P Michael Wacha (4.97 xFIP)
  • Encouraging to see Alex Blandino in the lineup for a second straight game. Price deserved all the criticism he got for refusing to play his young players consistently, and hopefully that trend will change with Riggleman. Tonight is an encouraging start, but we’ll see if it continues.
  • Jose Peraza hitting second isn’t ideal, though. Tucker Barnhart, anyone?

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Scott Schebler isn’t in the lineup, but he is in the clubhouse. As of this writing, no roster move has been announced.

UPDATE: Schebler has been activated. Cody Reed is heading to Louisville, presumably to start. The Reds now have a full five-man bench.

More Price/Jenkins fallout:

A good read on Joey Votto’s early-season struggles:

Some better news to report in the minor leagues:

A bonus stat of the day:

Stat of the Day

Although some of you might not believe it, Price’s .419 winning percentage during his Reds tenure was far from the worst in the franchise’s history. Bobby Wallace, who managed the team for 25 games in 1937, is the record holder at .200 after his team put up a 5-20 record under his watch. Among managers who held the job for multiple seasons, Dan Howley (1930-1932) has the worst win-loss ratio at .383. Right behind him are two Reds legends (at least on the field) in Bid McPhee (1901-1902, .389) and Bucky Walters (1948-1949, .397).

Final Thoughts

While the starting pitching has kept the Reds in games lately, the offense continues to stay ice cold. After breaking out for 10 runs in Monday’s win against the Brewers, the bats put up a goose egg in the following two games and come into tonight on a 19-inning scoreless streak. If the club is going turn it around, it clearly needs better performances across the board, but it starts with the offense. Will Price’s firing make much of a difference? Probably not. There’s little doubt the Reds are better than their 3-15 record indicates, though, so maybe the move was the spark needed to get the team playing better. We’ll see tonight as the Riggleman era begins.

Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

Join the conversation! 105 Comments

  1. I don’t have any sort of expectations for Riggleman or this season. All I ask of him is the same thing I asked of Price: Let the kids play, and teach them to play the right way (e.g.: hold them accountable when they show lack of focus/hustle). Other than that, let the chips fall where they may.

    Hopefully by season’s end, we’ll have a clearer picture of what the team needs to get back to respectability.

  2. Great preview! This is from the fangraphs article about Votto noted above; I find it hard to believe, and I doubt many fans would have guessed this is true: “For what it’s worth, even on a team whose .307 OBP ranked 12th entering Thursday, Votto has batted with a runner in scoring position in 30% of his plate appearances (up from 22% last year) and is hitting .438/.545/.500 in those spots.”

    I guess it shows how high the expectations are for JV that it feels like he’s been much worse than that.

  3. So, I am putting together a lineup tonight for DraftKings and I am drilling down on why the simulations and Vegas love the Cardinals big tonight.

    And….

    Wacha is 9-1 lifetime vs. Reds, 2.99 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 5 HRs allowed in 93.1 IP
    (including 7-0 in last 3 seasons)

    Thanks Baseball Reference!
    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=wachami01&year=Career&t=p

    Yikes.

    I am familiar with the Reds Killers on this site, and a few Cardinals hitters are on the list. But, I don’t know if Reds Killers pitchers have been discussed for a while. Those records qualify Wacha, at least up to now.

    Go Redlegs.

    • Put Molina in your lineup.

      • Ha! Good call, VaRedsFan. I got him.

        I don’t like putting guys in against the Reds, but I am doing a contest of just the 8 pm contests, and Ol’ Molina is the best option at catcher by far.

        It feels like he is never going to retire.

        • Ground Rule Double on his first AB. Molina is probably helping you. Since I know nothing about Draft Kings, that’s just an assumption.

        • Easy call…I’ve made a lot of money by just playing Red killers over the years…Thames, Braun, Cutch, Rizzo.

  4. Seeing Tucker hitting in the #2 hole would have beena jaw dropper. I was anxious to see Riggleman’s lineup all day. With Suarez on the mend, his 1st lineup had no big surprises and no big disappointments. It was nice to see Blandino (and his -54 wRC+!) in the lineup.

    With the weather becoming more mild, let’s hope the bats start warming up a little with more solid contact. Finnegan could be on a short leash if he continues to struggle and Garrett continues to dominate. Stephenson has a big start for the Bats tonight also.

    The roster move when Schebler is activated should be interesting.

    • That’s funny you mention Barnhart at #2, Shchi. The Rockies have moved their catcher, Chris Iannetta, to #2 behind Charlie Blackmon and he has thrived there and so has the offense.

      The trend at the moment seems to be put your best/hot hitters at 1,2 and 4, with speed not a consideration.

      The #3 spot can be high HR/high K guy, since they will often come up in the first with 2 outs and no one on, anyway.

    • I bet/hope they DFA one of the Gosseltons. They won’t send out a pitcher–I’m not sure how we’re going to get Reed and Garrett into the rotation in Cincinnati or Louisville–and sending down Blandino would seem counterproductive. Thoughts?

    • How good has Tucker been???
      Lost in the 3-15 start is a new leader.

  5. Schebler activated,Cody reed sent down

    • Huh. I’m surprised in a good way. Although maybe they should have kept Reed tonight to backfill Finnegan after he goes 4-5 innings, and then sent him out. But that’s ungenerous of me to quibble, So, yay, and Go Reds!

      • I was hoping, but only 50/50 it would happen, that Reed was going down to AAA to start, but I agree on the timing. I figured if Reed was going down, he would follow Finnegan to the mound tonight before Finnegan would be activated.

  6. Nick Senzel is batting 2nd and playing 3b tonight. If he is not coming up to play 3rd while Suarez is in the DL….then why would he playing 3b in AAA when he is blocked at the major league level for 7 years?????

    Unless……

  7. There are literally two people on the entire planet who think Peraza should be hitting second on a major league team, and both have managed the Reds.

  8. Marty was so well prepared to interview Jim Riggleman before the game, he didn’t know Riggleman had taken over as an interim manager before, something Riggleman has done THREE times in his career.

    Brennaman: Well, of course this is something you’ve never had to do before.

    Riggleman: Well, Marty, yes I have.

  9. Hey, this is our fundraising week. Please support the site if you can. Click the yellow donate button in the sidebar and it takes about a minute.

    https://redlegnation.com/2018/04/19/support-redleg-nation-annual-fundraiser/

  10. Jesse Winker, BCI (Base Cloggers Inc.)

  11. I’ve seen enough Peraza. Rehab Suarez at SS… Do it DW.

    • I hope the Reds will be more patient than you are. Maybe if he had started all last year, I’d agree. Or if he’d had his 25th birthday.

      • Yeah…. The Dodgers and Braves know nothing….they both gave up the next Derek Jeter. Walt Jocketty paid a premium for him and needs to prove his legacy..let’s see how he does in the 2 hole at SS.

        • Nobody thinks he’s the next Jeter and Frazier hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since he was traded. He may prove to be incapable of being a regular at the ML level but I’m willing to give him more than 3 weeks into this season to prove it. I just prefer that he not be hitting 2nd in the lineup.

      • Albies….thats a young player. Drives the ball and takes walks. Peraza…no. Zero baseball IQ as well

    • I’m sick of him too but he did take a few pitches. Surprising. Is it me or did His stance look different tonight? Seems like he has changed his feet.

  12. Did I actually hear Chris Welsh call for more bunting?

    • Yes, because Winker is hitting leadoff, and the only way to move him into scoring position is via the bunt. It apparently doesn’t occur to him that another possibility would be to have one of the better hitters hitting behind him.

  13. Thanks to James Adams, Thomas Reed, Edward Eastabrooks and Steve Uphaus for their contributions during the first inning.

  14. My God if we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck.

  15. Robert Stephenson started for AAA-Louisville: 5 IP, 4H, 1ER, 2BB, 5K on 88 pitches (50 strikes).

    • Brandon Finnegan fastball is 91 mph….off speed 83. This is not the same pitcher as second half of 2016. Amir Garrett next man up.

      Can Danny Darwin be a player/pitching coach?

      Finnegan velocity is gone . Something wrong.

  16. 2-0 Cards…Molina..Who else?
    Fire Riggleman 😉

  17. Welcome to the managerial chair, Mr. Riggleman.

  18. Send Finnegan to the bullpen so he can find success in little increments. If it’s good enough for Garrett then Finnegan should be there as well

    • Winner! Free Amir! That statement Williams made baffles the mind.

    • @Jack: Finnegan in the early part of his career, was a reliable reliever. Yes, it’s time to have him back in the ‘pen. The decline in his velo means the plans to use him as a starter should come to an end. Amir Garrett merits the spot in the rotation. The Reds should leave Amir in the bullpen only if they have five proven pitchers holding down the rotation–and clearly we are far from that.

  19. A big thanks to Brian Dunn for his contribution during Brandon Finnegan’s 33-pitch first inning.

  20. Finnegan has nothing. 90-91 mph and the same iffy control. I was excited about him last year because he was throwing 96 in April and had a good 2nd half in 2016. He won’t get them out at Lville either. Not with this stuff? Peraza…..had enough. Gotta go. The guy takes walks like my ex-wife took the blame.

  21. Finnegan’s velocity is down, and aside from that this looks like a lot of his starts. I predict a DL trip and “he came back too soon” stories.

  22. Finnegan has a little movement on his pitches, but he seems to be topping out at 92. That’s not going to cut it unless you have pinpoint control, which Finnegan does not have. Didn’t he use to throw in the mid-90’s?

    • He was usually 92-94 then he came into last April hitting 96-97. I was pretty excited because his changeup got alot better after the break in 2016! I think his era was 2.97 in the 2nd half in 2016. He has nothing now though….very easy to hit

  23. Wow Looking at Danny Darwin and how old he looks just made me feel old.

  24. Thanks to Jay Rodabaugh who contributed just as Scooter Gennett singled. Much appreciated, Jay.

  25. I’ll bet Riggleman wasn’t too pleased to draw the Finnegan straw for his first game as manager. Hope he gets a belly full and swaps Finny for Garrett in the rotation

    • Or maybe he’s thrilled that he wasn’t also let go. Just sayin’. I’m sure Price wasn’t always pleased with the retreads the front office gave him either.

  26. The last series the Cardinal announcers said Osuna is dealing with a dead arm. That throw looked like he still is.

  27. it was nice to get Audio Overlay finally on my MLB.TV (wasn’t offered all month for some reason) – I can listen to Marty, and watch the game. Negative or positive Marty is better than Thom.

  28. They just ssid,Suarez was taking grounders at short today. Interesting…

    • YESSSSS!!!!!!!

      Hope he can claim that position as his own. It makes too much sense for Suarez to move to short so that Senzel can stick at 3rd, then let the remaining infielders (Jose Peraza, Shed Long, Jeter Downs, Dilson Herrera, Alfredo Rodriguez, etc) duke it out for the right to play 2nd.

      Much easier for a SS to move to 2B than a 3B to move to middle infield.

  29. Duvall did a nice job taking some pitches to get to 3-2 but then Wacha laid one right.down.the.middle and he just hit a can of corn 20 feet short of the track. We are just ice cold with the bats. Get Schebler in there tomorrow

  30. And yet, Finnegan gets every chance to start while Garrett gets saved for … what again ??

  31. HEY-YO!

    The Reds scored a run!

    RIGGLEMAN FOR MOTY!

  32. Why is Winker going to 2nd there. He has to know there is no shot at Billy at home. Or maybe he didn’t.

    Kudos to Peraza for driving the run home from 3rd.

    • I’m going to guess that the throw from Ozuna looked high enough that it wouldn’t get cut off. But the point remains. Stay at first when you’re losing, and some guy named Votto is on deck.

      • Yep. Admittedly, I probably pay more attention when this happens, but man it seems like the Reds get thrown out on the bases a lot with Votto on deck.

  33. Bullcrap DW. They easily could have let Finnegan get a few more rehab starts. They have Garrett and Bobsteve to cover his slot.

  34. I know Peraza drove in the run but Suarez can’t get healthy soon enough. Peraza has two at bats, and four outs have resulted. And I know Winker should have stayed put, but my expectations for Peraza to do anything positive at the plate are essentially zero right now. Suarez at short, Senzel at third, Gennett and Blandino platooning at second. Soon please.

  35. Votto got a walk anyway, but how in the heck could the previous pitch been a strike?

  36. BTW, two sharp singles to two different fields for Winker tonight. Wish he could run and field, but the dude can hit. Not unthinkable to see a .300/.400 slash from him.

  37. I think all I got from the Dick Williams interview was that he gave very little chance of Riggleman getting the manager’s job beyond the ‘interim’ tag.

  38. Much appreciation to David Turner who timed his contribution for FLORO-MANIA! Thanks for your support, David.

  39. I see Floro’s now in the game. I was secretly hoping they would give Garrett a 3-inning stint to stretch him out for his first start of the year.

    • No secretly hoping from me. Not putting him in the game here makes no sense to me. Seems like the Reds have no intention of letting him start anytime soon.

  40. So take shot at getting in scoring position so vottoncan knock you in.. That was a good baseball.play with 2 outs…just didn’t work out because the cards executed a cutoff..

  41. I’ve been impressed with Floro so far .

  42. And the pitcher bats. Lovely.

  43. The older I get, the simpler the world looks. Baseball comes down to one thing, as stated by Ted Williams, “Get a good pitch to hit.”

    Guys who attempt to do that walk more, hit better pitches harder (higher exit velocity), and have generally better results. Guys that thwart that on the mound (throw strikes, but not too fat) have success, as well.

    Hit strikes, throw strikes. As a GM, seek players who do these things. And yet we keep running out Finnegan, Reed, and Stephenson while understating Mahle and burying Garrett. We value stuff over strikes, consistently.

    We play “whack-a-mole Peraza,” Hamilton, and the backup SSs instead of Blandino, Dixon, or Long and Winker (daily). We value, I’m not sure really what (defense, I guess?) over selectivity and success. Until we reward and develop players who do these two simple things (hit strikes, throw strikes) instead of constantly looking for diamonds-in-the-rough, we will struggle as a franchise.

  44. Wow. Thank you Ron Smith for your support. Donation came in while Reds were going quietly in the 5th.

  45. Dick Williams sure made it sound like he expects Riggleman to be tougher on the players and demand more work in preparation. Specifically mentioned getting to the park earlier to work on fundamentals. Said “tough love” a couple times and “no nonsense” a few times.

    • Maybe that will be the case, but Bryan Price promised ‘accountability,’ too. …

      • Fair point. But Riggleman does have a long track record as major league manager. Price had zero.

        • Also a fair point. I have no recollection of him as a ‘players’ manager’ or as more of a taskmaster. But from the conversations I have heard lately, maybe more of the latter?

    • I think in reading between the lines, you can see where Price was really failing as a manager and a coach.

  46. Winker has a better chance with a fork than he does with that glove.

    • Dick Williams used a lot of fancy buzzwords and phrases in that interview, but if he can’t see that Winker needs to be in LF every day, that is troubling.

      The Pirates took a chance on Corey Dickerson and stuck him in LF in PNC Park, which is cavernous. Dickerson’s defense is no great shakes, but his bat plays so well, it’s worth it.

      Same idea with Winker.

      With the whole season in flux under an interim manager, burning Winker’s control time to play Duvall in LF is crazy.

      • And Winker’s defense is a lot better in LF than RF.

        • Strange that they won’t flip Duvall and Winker. Duvall’s arm would play much better in right, and Winker is a better defender in left.

          • I also don’t understand why Winker is not the leftfielder. Duvall and Schebler each have stronger arms needed for right field.

  47. So Schebler gets burned without ever batting

  48. What a crummy called third strike to Winker.

  49. That was Peraza’s 6th double this season, which leads the team.

    Early days, but still encouraging.

  50. Reds fans are rightfully pretty critical of Jose Peraza, but if you told me he’d have the same number of extra base hits on April 20th (6) as Billy Hamilton (2), Jesse Winker (1), Joey Votto (1), and Scott Schebler (2) combined, I would have thought you were crazy.

    • I actually think Peraza is doing pretty well, even if his stats don’t show it. After about the first week of the season where he seemed to regress to his ways from early 2017 (i.e. lunging at pitches in a different zip code than home plate) he seems to have calmed down and continued the version of him we saw in the second half of 2017.

      I haven’t checked the stats, but he seems to be seeing more pitches per AB and I would reckon his O-Swing% has dropped since then. We’ll see if he can keep it up and it starts leading to more walks.

      • He shows flashes. His defense has been steady and I thought he has the potential to be Alcides Escobar-type player. His mechanics at the plate are better, though his inability to take a walk caps his value severely.

        • The first step is seeing more pitches and laying off the bad ones. He’s showed progress in both of those. His next step is to learn how to foul off pitches he can’t handle to keep an AB alive. If he can do that, he might just develop into a useful player.

  51. I’m late to the party. Why is Iglesias pitching in the 8th when we are down by 3?

Comments are closed.

About Matt Wilkes

Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

Category

2018 Reds, Game Thread

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,