Well, Bryan Price or not, the Reds (3-16) are still who we thought they were.
Believe it or not, Jim Riggleman couldn’t fix everything in one game. Brandon Finnegan was erratic and the offense continued to look hapless in a 4-2 defeat against the Cardinals (11-8) on Friday night. The Reds have now scored two runs in the last 28 innings and are averaging 2.9 per game this season, dead last in MLB. You simply can’t win many games with that kind of production.
Fortunately, today is a new day, and the Reds will get another chance to turn it around this afternoon at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Homer Bailey has undoubtedly been the Reds’ best pitcher in the early going of 2018. One shaky start aside, the right-hander has given his team a chance to win every time he’s taken the mound, despite getting next to no run support. Bailey has gone six or more innings and allowed three or fewer runs in three of his four outings. He hasn’t left any of those games with the lead, as the offense has scored only two runs for him this year. Only two pitchers in baseball have received less run support: Tyler Mahle and White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito.
As for the things Bailey can control, his pitch location has been better in 2018. Over his last two games, he’s allowed only two walks in 13 innings pitched and has an above-average (for this season, at least) 8.3 percent walk rate on the year. Ideally, he’ll start to miss more bats, however.
The good news is Bailey’s strikeout rate is up slightly from last year (16.5 vs. 16.0 percent). But with his fastball velocity down so far (92.1 mph vs. 93.5 in 2017), the 31-year-old’s swinging-strike percentage has fallen to 7.5 percent, far below even last year’s mediocre mark of 9.3 percent. His splitter is still getting plenty of whiffs (19.0 SwStr%); however, his curve and slider haven’t been as effective. There’s also the whole low BABIP and lots of hard contact stuff — but you know what? Let’s just enjoy his good start for right now.
Bailey vs. Cardinals
The Cincinnati offense will have another tough test this afternoon in Carlos Martinez, the unquestioned ace of the Cardinals’ pitching staff. The right-hander mowed down the Reds will relative ease last Sunday, allowing only two hits and striking out 11 in seven innings. Martinez currently boasts an impressive strikeout rate, but his control gets him into trouble at times. He’s walked 14 batter in just 25 innings this season, though he’s been able to get out of trouble by inducing a bunch of groundballs (56.7 GB%) and double plays (4, tied for sixth in baseball and one behind Mahle, who has 5).
When Martinez has his best stuff, however, it’s tough to beat him even when he does walk four hitters as he did against the Reds his last time on the mound. He throws three different types of fastballs — a four-seamer, sinker, and cutter, which is a new addition this year — and all can reach the mid-to-upper 90s on the radar gun. His primary off-speed pitches are a slider and changeup, and both had swinging strike rates above 17 percent last season. Martinez is also mixing in a curveball more this year. That’s six pitches opposing batters have to contend with, so it’s no wonder he can dominate even without impeccable command.
Martinez vs. Reds
|RF Jesse Winker (110 wRC+)||3B Matt Carpenter (87 wRC+)|
|SS Jose Peraza (53 wRC+)||C Yadier Molina (122 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (60 wRC+)||1B Jose Martinez (182 wRC+)|
|2B Scooter Gennett (85 wRC+)||LF Marcell Ozuna (72 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (59 wRC+)||RF Dexter Fowler (62 wRC+)|
|CF Scott Schebler (188 wRC+)||SS Paul DeJong (114 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (139 wRC)||2B Kolten Wong (39 wRC+)|
|3B Alex Blandino (-11 wRC+)||RF Harrison Bader (130 wRC+)|
|P Homer Bailey (4.80 xFIP)||P Carlos Martinez (3.98 xFIP)|
- Scott Schebler is back in the lineup for the first time since April 1, when he was hit by a pitch on the right elbow. The outfield rotation resumes, as Billy Hamilton is sitting today.
- Alex Blandino starts two days in a row. It’s a miracle!
News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCIN) April 21, 2018
Cincinnati #Reds Minor League Game Review: 4/20/18
— Doug Gray (@dougdirt24) April 21, 2018
Highest Hard-Hit Rate
Last 7 Days
Mike Moustakas 56%
J.D. Martinez 55%
Adam Duvall 54%
Andrew McCutchen 52%
Jeimer Candelario 50%
Ryan Zimmerman 48%
— Sports Info Solutions (@SportsInfo_SIS) April 21, 2018
Stat of the Day
The Reds haven’t been this bad on offense in their first 19 games of a season in a century. Their 56 runs are currently tied with the 1918 ballclub for the fewest through 19 contests in franchise history (Note: The data only went back to 1908.).
The good news is the 1918 Redlegs went on to win the World Series the next year, so there’s hope! Now to find a team willing to throw the series like the Black Sox…
Schebler’s return should inject a bit of life into the Reds’ offense, and they’ll need it against one of the tougher pitchers in the National League. Martinez got the best of Bailey in a pitcher’s duel last Sunday; let’s see if Homer can return the favor today.
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.