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.
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.
Michael Lorenzen pitched a scoreless inning for @BlueWahoosBBall today. He walked one. 12 pitches, 5 strikes. Riggleman said he'd throw a bullpen tomorrow, get a couple of days and then a multiple-inning outing in the minors
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 16, 2018
Nick Senzel Return to baseball activity is a great sign. He hasn’t played since May 3. Still need to monitor Senzel’s wellness.
Senzel (vertigo) is headed to Arizona to increase baseball activity. #reds
— John Fay (@johnfayman) May 16, 2018
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.