Don’t look now (or maybe, yes, do look) the Cincinnati Reds went 5-2 on the dreaded West coast road trip. That’s good for any team, but great for one that limped out of April with a 7-22 record. The good guys have won 7 of the last 9. 

The team has an off day on Thursday then looks to keep the fun rolling over a 6-day, 7-game home stand that begins Friday. They play a 4-game series with the Cubs, including a day-night double-header on Saturday. The extra game is a make-up for the rain out on April 3. Then they play a 3-game series against the first place Pirates. 

San Francisco Giants 3 (22-22)  Cincinnati Reds 6 (15-29)

Box Score || Win % || Reds Pitcher Statcast || Reds Hitter Statcast

The Dark Knight of Gotham pitched like Harvey Dent’s Two-Face today. After being spotted a 4-run lead, Matt Harvey allowed two runs in the bottom of the 1st and it could have been worse. Harvey struggled again in the 2nd, but managed to work around a leadoff single and double. But the Giants were squaring him up. When Harvey surrendered up a long leadoff home run to Brandon Belt in the 3rd, manager Jim Riggleman sent Jackson Stephens to get warmed up in the Reds bullpen.

But just like that, Harvey flipped his coin, settled down, and retired the next six Giants batters, five of them on strikeouts. Harvey made great use of his slider, particularly against left handed batters.

Harvey threw 77 pitches over 4 innings. He recorded 8 swing-and-miss pitches, five on sliders, compared to just 2 in 55 pitches in his previous game. The Reds are taking things slow with their new acquisition. Unless Matt Harvey completely collapses in the next month or so, the Reds will trade him. The open question is how much they’ll get in return. Odds are, it won’t be much. If Harvey pitches like he did in the first two innings today, it won’t be anything. 

Wandy Peralta gave up two walks and two hits in two innings of work. Peralta has now walked 18 batters and struck out 17 in 21.1 innings. He’s been lucky to have worked around all those base runners so far, as evidenced by his xFIP of 5.53. Peralta has been nothing more than mediocre since his scintillating month of April 2017 (xFIP of 1.66).

Jared Hughes and Raisel Iglesias pitched the final three innings. 

The Reds bats jumped all over Giants lefty starter Andrew Suarez in the 1st. Jose Peraza lined a single to center. Scooter Gennett lofted (6% hit probability) a double down the left field line. Joey Votto followed with a single to left. Adam Duvall blasted (106.2 mph, 386 ft.) a long far one deep into the left field bleachers. The Reds were up 4-0 and Suarez hadn’t recorded an out. Duvall leads the team in home runs (8) and isolated power (.227). Duvall is one of the six Reds regulars (Votto, Barnhart, Hamilton, Suarez, Winker, Duvall) with a walk-rate above 10%. He also made a nice defensive play in the 1st inning to save a couple runs. 

The Reds fifth run came via a series of improbable events. After apparently grounding out to first base to end the 5th inning, Joey Votto got new life at the plate when his hit was ruled a foul ball. Votto worked an 11-pitch at bat and walked. Adam Duvall lifted a pop-up to the right side of the infield. Batted balls like that have just a 9% hit probability. Duvall benefitted from the defenders being pulled to the left side of the infield on a shift and Pablo Sandoval’s limited mobility. Duvall’s ball landed about two feet into the outfield. Joey Votto, with some heads up running, made it all the way to third base. From there he scored on a passed ball. 

The Reds sixth run came in a simpler fashion in the 7th inning. Scooter Gennett hit a ball 377 feet over the right field seats. 

Gennett made a huge defensive play to end the bottom of the 6th. With bases loaded, Gorkys Hernandez hit a pop-up down the right field line that appeared destined to drop (it was a little unclear if it would have been fair or foul, but probably fair) between the three converging fielders. At the last second, Gennett reached out and caught it, just as he was undercut by a sliding Scott Schebler. 

Eugenio Suarez  Was scratched a couple hours before the game due to a sore right ankle that he jammed in the first inning of last night’s game (Mark Sheldon). Alex Blandino played third. Blandino is proving to be quite a useful utility player. He can start at second, third and short and play solid defense. He has hit well (wRC+ of 93) for someone who doesn’t play every day. And he’s a deft bunter, both of the suicide and sacrifice variety. Blandino went 2 for 4 today. 

Michael Lorenzen  Sounds like he’s getting close. Like maybe around a week or so?  Lorenzen is on the 40-man roster. Guessing that Jackson Stephens will get sent back to Louisville when Lorenzen is activated. 

Nick Senzel  Return to baseball activity is a great sign. He hasn’t played since May 3. Still need to monitor Senzel’s wellness.

Robert Stephenson  Reactions (280-character format) to the Louisville Courier Journal interview with Robert Stephenson, particularly where Stephenson said: 

“Obviously, I’d like to limit the walk numbers, but at the same time, I don’t think that they are the most important things ever. If you can get guys out without them getting hits, then I don’t think that walks should be as big of a deal.”

Matt Wilkes: Walks are pretty much THE reason Robert Stephenson isn’t in the big leagues right now, and he doesn’t think they’re a big deal? What?

Grant Freking: Stephenson would have at least 50 MLB starts by now if free passes and general LaLoosh-ness wasn’t his main issue.

Doug Gray: No one can consistently work around baserunners. The best pitchers alive just have less baserunners to work around.

Shifty Shift New data from MLB.com’s Mike Petriello on the impact of the shift. It’s a little more complicated than commonly believed.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 51 Comments

  1. Bob doesn’t get it and we know that but the Reds won’t trade him or release him.Nobody wins do the?The pen with 5 shut out inning athough there were some moments

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  2. Nice road trip.
    I will take 5 – 2 on the left coast anytime
    (Even in the days of the Machine)

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  3. Wow on Bob Steve. Talk about being mule-headed.

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    • I’ve been a supporter and have dismissed the idea being floated by a lot of Reds’ fans as Stephenson being “uncoachable”, to be off-base speculation. That quote however is about one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard come out of a pitcher’s mouth and plays right into the “uncoachable” narrative. Ok, yes, there are times when you work around a guy and a walk isn’t a bad thing in those cases but overall walks are deadly to a pitcher. Stephenson has been able to work around them in the minors and has successfully worked around them in short stretches in Majors but nobody can do it consistently over time. The walks are also a sign of lack of command which will kill a pitcher over time when facing MLB hitters. I’m starting a migration into the camp that he’s indeed a lost cause and it may be time the Reds cut bait or at minimum move him into a RP role. That way you limit exposure, hope his stuff plays up, reduce his need for a 3rd pitch, and hope he can provide some value to the club for all the club has invested in him.

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  4. By the way, if anyone was curious, since Riggleman took over on April 19th, the Reds are 12-13. That’s about the winning % I expected from this team before the season started. I know it’s only about a month, but just think where the team would be if they’d played this way in April too.

    This team could still yet win 75 games (which, again, is about what I expected of them), which, given where they were when Price left, would be a huge turnaround.

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  5. The adjustments that Harvey made to survive today I guess is an example of one of the contributions a savvy vet pickup can make to a young staff like ours.
    I don’t mind eating crow if it means good for the home team. So fa, the Harvey trade is looking good.

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  6. My prediction for Robert Stephenson is that by the time the Reds are ready to contend, he’ll be traded with other prospects to a rebuilding team in exchange for a contender. He’s been in the minors since 2012 and in AAA since 2015. Right now, we have Mahle and Romano that look only about 100 innings away from becoming very good starters. Castillo seems to be good enough to be a full time starter. Essentially, at that point we’d need one or two arms that we need to pick up via trade or free agency to have a pitching staff that could make the team a viable contender. Then if Hunter Greene becomes a real ML pitcher in a couple of years, the rebuild is over. Walk ’em Stephenson gets traded in that scenario.

    And let’s face it, because I posted it on the internet, the above is guaranteed to happen. You’re welcome.

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    • I think Tony Santillian will be ready before Hunter Greene as an ML pitcher.

      And there are several other arms out there too. Hunter Greene? Maybe in 4 years. He really hasn’t shown much this year, besides he can throw hard. Not much control or anything else.

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  7. OK, so Romano, Mahle, & Harvey were slightly less than spectacular in the SF series. On the other hand, the bullpen threw 15.1 innings of 15 hit, 5 run (4 ER) baseball ; striking out 15 batters & walking 4 while allowing only 1 HR. Not too shabby in support of 3 lousy starts. Maybe the Reds can’t find 5 reliable, consistent sps. Nice to have 8 guys who can pick up the pieces & play baseball.

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  8. Stephenson’s comments show why he is in the minors and why his coaches have publicly criticized him.

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  9. Why is it assumed Harvey will be traded at some point prior to the desdline?

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    • He’s a free agent this fall. No reason to keep him.

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      • Or try to sign him to a performance based extension over the coming months.

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        • Boras is his agent. Good luck with trying to sign him to a performance based contract.

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          • Boras’ Client was just DFA’ed the spring after the worst offseason for free agents since free agency was established.

            Boras’ team knows this. Do not be shocked to see Harvey strongly contemplating extension offers from the Reds this fall.

          • If the Reds are offering an extension it means he has pitched well and there will be someone who will offer a guaranteed contract not based on performance in the off season. If Harvey hasn’t improved and the Reds are offering extensions they have admitted the rebuild didn’t work and they should trade the entire team for prospects and try again in a few years. I don’t see Harvey or Boras giving a discount for the Reds resurrecting his career, if that happens

          • Fair point. Discounts will probably not be handed out by Scott Boras. But I maintain that the reds will get a special opportunity to sign Harvey sooner than anyone else— at any point when they suspect he “still has it” and before he actually “gets it back” completely. Perhaps there’s a threshold that his recovery will cross where we can swoop in and tempt them with an offer. I dunno.

    • He is a free agent at the end of the season. The only thing that makes sense is trading him, but he has to improve for that to happen. If he continues to pitch the way that got him sent to the bullpen in New York then I do not assume he will be traded.

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    • 2019 Bailey or Harvey as 5th starter? Pretty easy decision…..FOR NOW.

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  10. 5-2 in a west coast swing to LA and SF is pretty good. Many a Red season has met it’s ends in that trip, although I guess with the April they had, the pressure is off.

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  11. It’s going to take getting traded maybe even flat out released for Bob Steve to finally get it.

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  12. What if Harvey is decent but not worthy of a big contract somewhere ? Perhaps something like a 4.15 era with the Reds? I wonder if that happened if they could/would sign him to something like Mikolas got w/the Cards which was 15 mil/2 years. Maybe something like 25 mil/3 years? They could keep Harvey to handle the role that they were hoping Bailey could pull off.

    In other news…RLNs favorite whipping boy Adam Duvall is 8-25 in their last 9 games with 3 HRs and 4 walks (.414 obp). I can’t say much either because despite being one of his biggest supporters on here, I was about ready to trade him for a bag of beans too. Great catch today too….always underrated defensively imo!

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  13. Duvall seems to like hitting his old team’s pitching, he’s had some big games against the Giants.

    Good thing on this club is that there is room for improvement, so however bad they have been, they could improve especially if they get anything out of the injured pitchers.

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  14. A 5-2 west coast trip is always welcome. A very nice achievement no matter the year.
    Stephenson’s comments are not far removed from his 8 BB in 2 IP performance. Ironic.
    Stephenson needs a change of scenery quickly. Very soon. Either LA team has a need.

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    • Not sure why everybody thinks that a change of scenery would help. Is this a euphemism for “get rid of him?” The Reds probably would get little in return at this point.

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      • Correct, little to no trade value. One alternative could soon be a permanent move to the bullpen, hoping to get more focus in shorter appearances, allowing Stephenson to get an uptick in his FB velocity and better results from his slider. Another alternative would be that he just doesn’t pan out as a MLB pitcher at all.

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      • That is exactly right. Time to cut bait. Any return would be a positive over having him in the fold. I would do my best to separate my 24 other players away from this attitude. It is past time to move on from Robert Stephenson. Get what you can for the former 1st round pick and be done with it. Done and done. ASAP !!
        That AAA rotation is becoming overloaded with malcontents. First Stephenson. And now Finnegan takes several days to report to AAA Louisville after his demotion and sulk-a-thon. Kelley might have been the man to whip these guys into shape and shed their sulking and bad attitudes. But he is now on he Reds bench. I don’t know if Schofield is the right man for the job in Louisville or not to deal with these whiners. So far, not so good.

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  15. I’d tag Duvall’s defensive play in the first inning as “outstanding” instead of “nice”. Commenter said that only a handful of LF’ers could do it, I believe less than that could do it in AT&T.

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  16. I was at the game yesterday. After 70 pitches, Harvey had throw 50 strikes! Not too shabby. The radar gun stats showed 93 mph in the 1st inning, 94 in the 2nd then 95 a couple of times in the 3rd and 4th. He had a mechanical flaw in the 1st but I guess Barnhart saw it and afterwards, Harvey looked pretty good to me. Some loud outs but I’d like to see him go 5+ next time. He definitely has a mound presence. Other items: Duvall had a nice series and I know it’s already crowded but we have to find a spot for Blandino.

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    • Blandino’s spot, in my opinion, is doing exactly what he is doing. The guy is a really nice utility player. He may have the chops to be a starting 2B but right here, right now he’s a nice utility player and I think that’s his MLB role. A valuabel kind of player to have around. If other teams have a need at 2B and think he’s a starter, they’ll come calling.

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  17. Harvey has some left but it will be with another team I’m afraid.He was good the last 6 or 7 hitters with 5 K’s and we do need a couple of vets to perform well to help these young guys and not getting that from Homer,Disco and Finny probably is why he is here.Hopefully that changes and somebody steps up but for now we go on and lets see what happens.Duvall is showing some life at the plate with the homers and Blandino does everything well and needs to start 3 times a week somewhere as Sezwhom said.

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  18. Listening to Robert Stephenson’s comments is like listening to a stubborn preteen or teen. There is a sliver of valid fact and truth in his aurgument that he uses to mask and validate his indiscretions and mistakes.

    From an offensive perspective, a hit is better than a walk, but both are positive outcomes. From a defensive (pitching) perspective, a walk is better than a hit, but both are negative outcomes. It’s all about outs and how often outs are not achieved.

    Since leaving the low minor leagues, Stephenson has non-out results (in the minor leagues!) of:

    2014: 1.38 WHIP; 7.51 H/9; 4.87 BB/9
    2015: 1.23 WHIP; 6.99 H/9; 4.70 BB/9
    2016: 1.36 WHIP; 7.57 H/9; 4.68 BB/9
    2017: 0.99 WHIP; 6.02 H/9; 2.90 BB/9
    2018: 1.36 WHIP; 6.14 H/9; 6.14 BB/9

    That’s a lot of baserunners, meaning a lot of non-outs. There is one positive outlier, 2017, when Stephenson reduced his walks to less than 3 per 9 innings.

    We see the same results at the major league level except that the results are predictably worse againsrt better hitters:

    2016: 1.62 WHIP; 9.97 H/9; 4.62 BB/9
    2017: 1.58 WHIP; 8.61 H/9; 5.63 BB/9

    Robert Stephenson sees more than 9.0 SO/9 at both the minor league and major league level but ignores all the baserunners he allows while getting those SO. There is another side of that problem. In the upper minor leagues, Stephenson has averaged less than 1.10 HR/9. That’s a manageable number without baserunners on base, but Stephenson doesn’t keep baserunners off base. At the major league level, Stephenson has averaged 1.55 HR/9. That’s not good in it’s own right, but major league hitters will (and do) make Stephenson throw strikes and sit on his mistakes in their hitting zone, resulting in more walks, more hits (more baserunners) and then more HR with runners on base.

    Stephenson is on the verge of becoming just another statistic, a talented thrower with immense potential who never fulfilled that potential and ends his career as a AAAA player.

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    • Great analogy to the preteen “logic” there Cossack.

      In my most “benefit of the doubt” frame of mind, I could wonder if saying that about walks is what someone tried to help convince him of, if only to relieve the pressure built up in his head about how bad walks are. But that’s a stretch. Not a good look on Bob.

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    • Yep, yep, yep, and yep.

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  19. I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about seeing Votto back in the lineup yeasterday with an off day scheduled today. Those two additional days of light stretching, treatment and rest for his back just seemed like a very good idea before getting back in the lineup for the remainder of a long season. With that said, it was nice to see him moving and running easily during the game. Without Votto in the lineup, they probably don’t win that game. His 11-pitch walk in the 5th inning was a thing of Vottoesque beauty, followed by his sprint from 1B to 3B on the IF dinker by Duvall and scoring on a passed ball.

    Maybe Votto cleared his head with the recent public comments and personal accountability for those comments. Whatever the reason, he looked good in the game.

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    • I second that. An excellent offensive inning by Votto. Proof that you don’t have to be fast to run the bases well.

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  20. Scooter now has 620 total atbats with the Reds with a .303 average including 33 doubles, 34 HRs, and 122 rbis. He’s also only 28. He’s a clubhouse jokester and local kid as well. I think he definitely needs to stay. If they’re really going to commit to Peraza at SS, then maybe you slide Scooter to LF which opens up 2B for Senzel. Winker might be the odd man out in that scenario? I’d leadoff w/Winker as much as possible to see if he can find his on-base niche and drive the ball like he did last year.

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    • If the Reds plan to extend him, then you could move someone to the outfield. If no extension then Scooter walks after next year. The problem with moving Scooter to LF is that is where Winker plays and the game I saw Scooter play in the OF last year was not good. Do you move Winker to RF so both corner positions have below average defense? Do you give up on Winker? Senzel could be moved into RF if 2B/SS/3B are not options. Cozart’s production last year was a similar situation, but as an excellent defender or without a major prospect ready to take his place. The Reds let him go into free agency with nothing in return. I am not saying Scooter is horrible or is the reason for losing, just that he doesn’t appear to be part of the plan going forward and the arbitration raise he is due for next year could go along with the $13 million coming off the books from Mes’s contract could be used to get the CF or SP that is needed.

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    • Exactly. Winker at this moment in time makes Sean Casey look like Hank Aaron. Can’t have 2 outfielders that are bad defensively and who knows Scooter could become average. But right now Scooter blows Winker away in comparisons. I would rather extend Scooter and trade Winker. Winker doesn’t impress me at all so far.

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      • I think Winker will get better defensively with more experience. I don’t think he played any RF in the minors from what I understand? He hit .307 in April with 7 doubles and a .411 obp. That has value! He’s just been slumping in May.

        Overall…Billy would be my odd man out! I’d move Schebler to CF and find a good defensive right hitting CF to help out. I’d move on from Peraza too. I agree that Scooter and Winker in the corner OF positions would be scary.

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  21. When Lorenzen comes back, Wandy should be the one to go down. It seems like he walks every leadoff hitter he faces. It’s only a matter of time before his luck runs out and he starts giving up crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Maybe some time in AAA will give him a chance to iron out some mechanical issues that will improve his control.

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    • Agree on that. It seems like he nibbles on every pitch. He had to trust his stuff and just throw it for a strike.

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  22. The Reds outfielders’ fWAR to date.
    Billy Hamilton = 0.5.
    Adam Duvall = 0.2.
    Scott Schebler = 0.2.
    Jesse Winker = -0.3.
    A grand total of 0.6 overall is just outright pitiful.
    Forty qualified ML OF’s have an individual fWAR of 0.6 or higher.
    Maybe the plan should be to move Senzel to RF, afterall.

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    • Reds POBO/GM Dick Williams’ roster construction leaves a lot, and I mean a lot, to be desired. The Of was woeful last year and is every bit as much as woeful this year. That will happen when you stand pat over the winter on a last place roster.

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    • That’s what I’m saying. Scooter can’t be any worse than Winker . He provides a ton more offensively as well. Why get rid of a guy who is 27 and raking it. Winker is what 25. He will never provide thst offense .

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      • Scooter is 28. Winker is 24.

        At 24, Scooter was playing in Milwaukee and put up a 107 OPS+ and 1.3 WAR. At 25, Scooter put up an 84 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR. At 26, Scooter put up a 91 OPS+ and 0.9 WAR. A large portion of Scooter’s WAR comes from his positional adjustment since he played 2B rather than a corner OF position. Milwaukee DFA’d Scooter after his age 26 season.

        Winker has fewer MLB PA than Scooter had in any single season from age 24-26, but with only 283 PA, Winker has a 113 OPS+ and a -0.4 WAR. A large portion of Winker’s WAR comes from his positional adjustment since he plays a corner OF position rather than 2B.

        You may be correct in your assessment of Winker’s offensive potential, but right now that’s just a guess and anyone could have an equally valid guess with the insufficient information available at this point of time. An equally valid guess would be a .300/.400/.500 slash for Winker and that is VERY comparable to what Scooter has done over the last 2 seasons when Scooter has put up a 128 OPS+.

        We just don’t have any idea what Winker can do at the MLB level yet and we won’t unless he gets to start every game over the course of a season, probably 2 seasons, before making such a determination. There is no question that Winker will need to demonstrate more power, a lot more power, than the .080 ISO he has shown this season. I don’t care if that power comes from doubles or HR’s or both, but it must be at least double what he is currently producing. Winker has to play and he has rto play every game. Until the Reds can provide a better option at leadoff, he also needs to hit leadoff every game.

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  23. Ken Rosenthal had the ranking of the 7 worst bullpens in MLB ranked by opponents OPS.

    Royals: .828
    Indians: .808
    White Sox: .804
    Marlins: .793
    Twins: .776
    Athletics: .765
    Tigers: .758

    Quick somebody get a rotary dial phone and contact the Reds front office. Stat. A call to Cleveland is in order.

    Reply

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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Titanic Struggle Recap

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