Game 1: The Best 

Cincinnati Reds 5 (16-30) • Chicago Cubs 4 (23-19)

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

Luis Castillo pitched five innings giving up one run. Castillo struggled a bit with his control, giving up four unintentional walks. He struck out four. Castillo loaded the bases in the first inning on two hits and a walk a before inducing a first-pitch double-play ball from Kyle Schwarber to escape without giving up a run. The only run Castillo did allow was on a mile-high pop-up single by Albert Almora Jr. that fell between Billy Hamilton and the infield. Kris Bryant followed with a double, knocking in Almora. 

Castillo’s one deficiency was his pitch count, throwing 98 in five innings. The Cubs lineup works every at bat, but Castillo wasted a lot of pitches after 0-2 counts on several hitters. That may have cost him a sixth inning. Castillo’s fastball averaged 95.4 mph, topping out at 96.7 a couple times. Last season, Castillo averaged 97.5 mph, good for second in MLB. His whiff rate on the fastball has increased from 23.7% last year to 27.8% this season.

The Reds first run came on a walk by Jose Peraza (a WALK BY JOSE PERAZA), a stolen base and then a 2-out single by Scooter Gennett. Peraza is now 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts, a huge improvement over his success rates of 68% in 2016 and 74% in 2017. 

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver used to say when you play for one run, that’s all you get. That aptly describes the Reds fourth inning. Joey Votto led off with a double to right field. Scooter Gennett – SCOOTER GENNETT – bunted him to third. (It’s possible Gennett was bunting on his own for a hit.) Eugenio Suarez knocked Votto in with a sacrifice fly. One run.  

The Reds scored two runs in the 6th inning, but almost came to regret the larger opportunity missed. Off Hendricks, the Cubs starter, Jose Peraza reached on an error by shortstop Addison Russell. Joey Votto walked. Scooter Gennett followed with a ground ball single over the second-base bag to make the score 3-2. Eugenio Suarez followed with a double, driving in Votto. With the score 4-2, the Reds had runners on second and third with no outs, threatening to blow the game open. But Scott Schebler and Tucker Barnhart grounded out with Votto unable to advance from third. Billy Hamilton struck out, swinging at five consecutive pitches out the strike zone. The score remained 4-2.  

The Reds bullpen, which has been so good lately, was a mixed bag. In the 6th, David Hernandez gave up extra-base hits to the first two batters he faced – the second of which was by Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs pitcher – surrendering the tying run. Amir Garrett (fastball velocity 95.9 mph) pitched the 7th. He walked the leadoff batter then induced a double play. After he struck out Javier Baez to end the inning, Baez and Garrett started jawing at each other, leading to one of those dumb baseball skirmishes where the benches and bullpens empty, no punches are thrown, but deep, heavy breathing and narratives abound.

Manager Jim Riggleman brought Raisel Iglesias in to hold the 2-run lead in the 8th inning. I liked Riggleman’s idea. If Iglesias was only going to pitch in one game of the double header, why not use him two innings? Ah, but the best laid schemes ‘o mice an’ men oft go awry. Iglesias seemed to be thrown off by not getting this call … 

… against Ian Happ, the first batter he faced. When Happ hit a home run later in the at bat, Iglesias stomped around the mound, clearly upset at the earlier call. Later in the inning, Anthony Rizzo, choked up on the bat like Joey Votto, punched a 2-strike pitch that landed between the LF and CF for a double, driving in the tying run. Iglesias’ fastball/sinker velocity was 97.8 mph, highest all season. 

Wandy Peralta came on for the 9th and pitched great, retiring the Cubs in order. Then Dylan Floro, who played for the Cubs last year before being released, was called on to pitch the 10th and 11th, giving up a hit and an intentional walk, but holding the Cubs scoreless. Floro struck out two batters and continues to have an outstanding year. 

The Reds won in the 11th inning after Scott Schebler led off with a walk. Oh, do walks haunt. Tucker Barnhart did not sacrifice bunt. Instead, he lined a single to right field. Good things come to those who don’t sacrifice outs. Adam Duvall worked another walk to load the bases, bringing up Billy Hamilton. Hamilton faced a drawn in infield and outfield, with one of the outfielders moved up to the infield. Even with no outs, drama remained. After Hamilton the Reds would have to bat a pitcher, having used up all their position players. But Justin Wilson couldn’t regain even a tiny bit of control, walking Hamilton on five way-off-target pitches, forcing in Schebler with the glorious game-winning run. 

Game 2  The Worst 

Cincinnati Reds 0 (16-31) • Chicago Cubs 10 (24-19)

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

Sal Romano walked everyone and they all scored. His ERA estimators have been pointing this way for several weeks. 

Scott Schebler, Alex Blandino and Rosell Herrera had the Reds three hits. Adam Duvall walked three times. 

  • Jose Peraza: .251/.276/.332
  • Alex Blandino: .280/.357/.347

Kevin Shackelford pitched 3 innings and threw 49 pitches.

52 Responses

  1. Klugo

    Not drinking the Sal Romano kool-aid quite yet. I like him but I think he may ultimately be best suited for the bullpen. Which, as we have shown, is a very important role. Just sayin.

  2. Jeff Reed

    Although hitting an average of .193, Duvall had five walks in the doubleheader. Reds go for the split tomorrow.

  3. Jack

    Big Sal will be replaced by Disco. I would like to see Blandino given a chance at short as well. I would also like to fast forward to 2020.

  4. WVRedlegs

    Two hits Friday night. Three hits tonight, two by pinch hitters. Brutal offense. Upgrades are in order.
    Romano is making it an easy choice for who goes when DeSclafani returns. Nice rehab outing by AD today.

    • jay johnson

      How does he jump over Homer?
      Homer flat out stinks and is a guaranteed L every time he takes the mound.Sal gives you at least a shot at a W.
      He may not be the long term answer but for right now he stays and Homer goes.

      • scotly50

        There are 21 million reasons Homer stays in the rotation.

      • Colorado Red

        Sunk cost. Homer stink more then Sal.
        I would DFA him at some point.

      • lwblogger2

        But what point? The velocity seems to still be there. He seems healthy. The Reds owe him $45-million. Do they go ahead and DFA him and just swallow that money? How would they feel if after 3-4 games with another team, he starts being effective? Maybe he’s tipping pitches and it is something that may be easy to fix?

        I think the Reds need to try him for at least a few more starts before giving up on him. If he can turn into even a marginal SP again, then the money spent on him has a purpose. Romano can go to AAA and keep working, the Reds probably don’t have that option with Homer unless he’s injured and then they can have him rehab down there. If this was just about 2018 and Homer wasn’t signed through 2019, then I’d probably say 2-3 more starts at most. I think 5-10 more starts are in order though. The Reds have got to try to get some return on the money they have invested. The only thing that would make me think that the time has come before those 5-10 starts, would be if Robert Stephenson or Reed go on a great run that warrants a callup or if the Reds were going to actually put Garrett back in the rotation (they aren’t).

      • Den

        It’s just money and these owners have that in buckets and teams values are only going to skyrocket with the total legalization of sports betting. Pay him off and move on.

    • Den

      How is Sal over Homer? We scream at pitch the youth yet we are going to move Sal out? It’s time to release Homer put in Disco and move on.

  5. Brandon

    Here is my question. Disco, if healthy, could replace either Sal or Homer and who could complain, but what about 2019?

    Let’s pretend for a minute that the Reds “urgency” in their planning actually does mean they plan to be competitive in 2019 for a playoff spot. We will have 4 months of baseball left but as of now I only see 2 starters that you could feel good about saying belong in a playoff team rotation. Aside from Castillo and Mahle, who else can you say that about ? Sure, Disco probably if healthy. But that is an “if” that shouldn’t be part of a serious plan.

    So far in 2018, Romano, Reed, Finnegan, and Stephenson have not stepped forward. Garrett seemingly has been permanently placed in the bullpen.

    I was hoping by the end of this season there would only be 1 spot to really fill in the rotation in 2019 and the Reds would address that in the offseason with a front of the rotation starter either via trade or FA. That still could be the case as there is a lot of baseball left but Currently I think it’s 3 spots that no one is claiming.

    The offense is a different story and also is going to require reconstruction in the offseason. Their outfield is killing them offensively. You add that on top of a SS who doesn’t give them much and the offense has a lot left also, but to me the offenseive issues is kind of what I expected. The disappointment and bigger concern is the starting pitching. For all of the rebuild, it’s at least concerning at this point that not enough of them are going to work out to be a real playoff type rotation.

    • proudpapa

      Stephenson actually showed late last season that he could be a very good major league pitcher. Slow start to this season sure, but he leads the Bats in quality starts and his last start was very good with 7k’s and 0 bbs

    • Dewey Roberts

      I see no way that the Reds will field a winner in 2019. Walt Jocketty traded away all the good Reds players—except Votto— and got “major league ready” prospects in return. The problem is that those prospects were spare parts rather than starters and some of them are still not major league ready. They may never be ready.
      This rebuild has been bungled about as badly as it could be. I think the Reds will not be competitive again before 2022 at the earliest—and that is iffy. It will take a new wave of homegrown talent before the Reds start winning again.
      The pitching prospects are still worrisome. The Reds need to quit drafting relief pitchers and/or outfielders thinking that they can turn them into major league starting pitchers. Oh, how I wish Bob Howsam was still around. He is the kind of General a Manager who knew what he was doing in drafts and trades. At present, we simply don’t have much of a clue about either.

  6. kmartin

    I think I would immediately, if not sooner, DFA any pitcher that walks Billy Hamilton with the bases loaded.

  7. Scott Gennett

    Assuming Castillo, Mahle & Harvey are able to perform up to some level, and Disco is able to make it out of DL, I guess at least one out of the other 6 or 7 candidates should be able to take a step forward.

  8. Blake Shell

    Sal got squeezed in that 4th or 5th inning whichever one was the big one. I know Sal’s peripherals aren’t great but one thing that catches my eye is simply his location.
    When he can throw the breaking ball for a strike he’s a different guy. He got a ton of misses with it the few times it was even near the strike zone and did the same against the Mets. He throws too many non competitive pitches. I don’t think it’s remotely a stuff thing for him. Location and overuse of the fastball are both destroying him.

  9. Scott Gennett

    The 4-men OF has a .690 OPS overall so far, with a highest AVG of .250 (Schebler) a highest OBP of .346 (Winker) and a highest SLG of .442 (Schebler). Duvall has improved his perfirmance lately, but Winker’s numbers have gone south. Schebler has shown to be the more consistent one, while Hamilton continues to struggle in the offensive side.

    • bouwills

      I know this is heresy for this site, but at some point it has to be shown that Winker can’t hit lefties. In 2017 he hit .120/ .154/ .354 vs lhp (only 25 ABs). Here we are in 2018 & Jesse is hitting .129/ .154/ .354 vs lhp (31 more ABs). Small sample size- but very consistent. Duvall & Schebler should be in the lineup vs lefties until Winker shows improvement.

      • Jeff Reed

        If Winker is not in the lineup against lefties, he will not show improvement against lefties. It’s just more proof, at what should be the end of the rebuild, that inconsistency in playing the young guys during the rebuild has got the Reds to this sorry state.

      • bouwills

        The premise of your argument is counter productive. Winker should continue to start vs lefties. Therefore Hamilton should continue to lead off. Therefore Reed & Finnegan should stay in the rotation. The worse the results the more adamantly you continue to buck the stats. Good luck with that..

      • lwblogger2

        His point is that 60 PA is not enough of a sample to conclude that Winker can’t hit LHP. Look, I’m down on the guy. His OBP isn’t elite and isn’t good enough to make up for other shortcomings. That said, the league has adjusted to him and he needs to play pretty much every day to show that he can make an adjustment back and to show that he can hit LHP better, and finally, to show that he has at least modest power. Batting him against LHP answers questions about him in a lost season. Questions that can help determine if he’s part of the future.

  10. Mason Red

    Any win against the Cubs is gold but it’s like men against the boys when making a comparison between the two franchises. If I were the owner of the Reds I would be infuriated by seeing more Cubs fans than Reds fans at GABP year in year out. But of course if ownership sees only ticket sales then I guess they’re happy.

    • Colorado Red

      the management is probably happy to see the butts in the seats and get a bit more money.
      Hard to watch, and hear the cheers for the Subs

    • greenmtred

      Yeah. I had the game on, but was doing rainy-day (almost snowy-day) chores, so I wasn’t watching consistently. I quickly realized that when I heard cheering, it meant that the stinkin’ Cubs had done something good. In Cincinnati. Does anybody know if other teams fallen on hard times experience this sort of indignity? Or is the Queen City populated by fair-weather fans?

      • MrRed

        Fans like fair weather, Green. That’s just the way it is. Else, they’ll tend to rainy/snow day chores rather than watch a game.

      • greenmtred

        Ah. Touche. I watched parts of it, but point taken.

      • David

        I don’t think Reds fans are fair weather fans. But they are fed up with losing and the dissembling double talk from the Management and Owners about the club. This team largely stinks, and the main reason is pitching. You can go on all day about the outfield, Duvall, Peraza, etc. But the pitching stinks. Homer gets shelled every time out.
        Romano didn’t look bad last night, but he walked too many people and that’s what killed him.
        They don’t get better until their starting pitching gets better. Period.

    • lwblogger2

      Yep, Cubs’ fans money spends.

  11. Old-school

    In this year of starting pitching development, Luis Castillo is 120 th in the NL in WAR and that’s the best for a Reds starter. Jared Hughes and Dylan Floro….yes 2 relief pitchers who no one else wanted…..are the Reds top 2 pitchers closing in on Memorial Day.

    Starting pitching is an unmitigated disaster. This team is nowhere near ready to compete in 2019. The entire Cubs rotation is better than any of the Reds starters . Same for the Cardinals.

    Paying homer Bailey $44 million this year and next with negative production is killing this franchise. Sit Votto down and ask him how the Reds can help him find a spot to win the next 5 years. Trade Joey Votto and start over. He will be making $75 million in 2021/22/23 . Votto is the greatest hitter in franchise history, but it’s not translating into winning baseball in the waning days of his prime. What happens when he’s injured or a 1.4 WAR player in 2022 and 2023.

    2018 Votto + Bailey+ Mesoraco = $60 million and 90 losses 4 years running.

    2019 Votto + Bailey = $ 48 million and 90 losses 5 years running

    Votto 2020 $25 million.

    The Reds missed out on a second Joey Votto winning window. Sadly, he only got one…2010-13.

    Start over at the trade deadline.
    Eugenio Suarez is the new building block.

    • scotly50

      The same reasons for trading Votto are the same reasons other teams would not want him. And since he has burnt the bridge to Toronto, I just don’t see another team who would want him.

      I truly do not see an end to this until the mid-twenties. I am not sure there will be a player left on this current team.

      • Colorado Red

        If he accepts a trade, would probably have to give 35 mil to make it work

      • Old-school

        He would give great value in 2019/20…. Fair in 21 and below in 22/23. If the reds gave $25 million to cover 2023…. That would be 4 years at 100 million and a good deal for Toronto or another AL megateam particularly with the DH.

        The reds could trade iglesias.hamilton.and scooter for high ceiling A and AA players with a core nucleus by 2020 and the flexibility to then sign pitching with the Bailey and Votto contracts gone.

  12. docproctor

    Haven’t seen a comment yet about your Blandino/Peraza comparison. Would really like to see Alex get some starts at SS.

    • scotly50

      It really does not matter. I am a Blandino fan, but he is not a major upgrade, so what is the point.

      • docproctor

        Not sure how you can say that. Blandino’s OBP is 90 points higher than Peraza’s. And that’s not new–Blandino was a high OBP guy throughout the minors. Slick fielder, too.

      • greenmtred

        Does Blandino have the range for SS? There have been comments here that questioned his ability to play it more than occasionaly. On the other hand, Peraz has decent range, but his throws, or the anticipation of them, are giving me high blood pressure.

      • lwblogger2

        It is my opinion that Blandino has enough chops at SS to give you some games there but not enough chops defensively to give you regular MLB starts there. His range is pretty limited and his arm isn’t quite good enough for plays deep in the hole. I like Blandino a lot but he really isn’t a starting SS. He’s a good 2B and 3B though and I wouldn’t mind seeing how he could do in LF/RF. I see him as a super-sub and the kind of player a team needs.

    • james garrett

      I agree Doc lets see what we have with him at short for a few days and maybe Herrera in center.Its easy to get high when you win 6 in a row and get down after losing like we did Friday night and game two last night.We are still the same team that is auditioning a young starting group of pitchers along with getting woeful starts by Homer and now have been shut out 6 times.Lots of question marks but we must stay the course with the pitchers.Can’t start throwing guys under the bus after a few stinkers and allow Homer to just continue to pitch.Bad message to the young guys for sure when all you can say is well he used to do this and that.Bottom line is they need to be given a legitimate chance at being successful and all of them have things they can get better at.For me its a big mistake to not give Garrett and Bob Steve some chances after the break.We are getting right at league average starts as it pertains to innings from all of our starters.We should not be surprised or disappointed at this and again stay the course.

      • lwblogger2

        Hererra in CF? He’s had shoulder issues with his throwing shoulder, from 2B. He also is considered a 2B and 2B only, partly do to a sub-par arm. He’s not blessed with great speed and has never really played the OF. CF in MLB? For the Reds?

  13. bouwills

    Reds aren’t the only team with the yoke of bad contracts hanging around their necks. It happens. The Reds are less able to overcome the burden of bad contracts than say Yankees or Dodgers, but that’s the way the ball bounces. The issue is clear & always has been. For a small market team to re-build, they must be 100% into re-build. Re-tool is a farce. Trying to revive the careers of the Marquis, Simons, Arroyos, Harveys, Gallardos etc. etc. ad naseum is also indeed a farce. ML- ready prospects aren’t. If they were ML-ready, teams wouldn’t trade them away for half a season rentals. The expertise of the re-build continues to evade this organization;even now. BP, what were they thinking? They paid almost all of his salary & got nothing in return. Cozart, what were they thinking? They got zip. Zero. Nil. Cingrani, what were they thinking? Well, I’ll tell you. They were thinking that by the time they’re competitive again, Clementina will be ML ready. Cingrani will be too expensive or gone. The reason they didn’t make the SF/ Hamilton trade is because the player that they were offered is about ML ready now. the player they wanted (Ramos) will be ready in about 3 years. Joketty,Williams, & Castellini know this team is still about 2-3 years away. But they won’t admit it. So the farce continues.

  14. KG

    Senzel will be here soon. We know that. Presumably at 2nd base. Scooter Gennett is one of our best hitters and should stay. Why not move him to the outfield and use Duvall & Hamilton as trade bait?

    • Colorado Red

      The concern about Nick is the vertigo.
      Twice now in less then /12 a season.
      While Scotter’s D is really poor, his offense is really good.
      Would rather Nick play SS

    • greenmtred

      So, an outfield of Schebler, Gennett and Winker? Gennett is hitting, the other two struggling. None of them can play defense–well, Schebler might be mediocre, for what that’s worth. With that outfield, the cut-off men would have to run out a long way.

    • Jeff Reed

      Those of us who favor an outfield tryout for one of our best hitters, Gennett, are still waiting. Probably a trade, that doesn’t bring much to the Redlegs, will occur before the tryout happens.

    • DougEfresh

      Seriously, who wants Hamilton and/or Duvall? Neither one is an every day guy. No one is going to offer anything of value for these schmucks’ last year or two of arbitration.

  15. Darrin

    24 walks in three games, how does a major league staff even accomplish that?

    • greenmtred

      Practice, practice, practice. A little luck, too.

  16. Ernest

    Not that it matters at this point, but, the Reds continue to bat a player with a 276 OBP and a 607 OPS in the top 2 spots in the order. The Reds are just a clueless organization at this point.

    As noted above, the OF provides very little at this point as well. Yet, the Reds act like all 4 are irreplaceable and need to get them all playing time.

    The one true prospect that the Reds have is now dealing with health issues and according some is blocked by a 27 year old journey man.

    In addition, others have pointed out that the Reds never truly traded for prospects, just AAAA players that the other teams did not value.

    Not exactly an efficient/effective rebuild

  17. WVRedlegs

    The Reds have a new manager, yet the results are much the same. You would think the front office would finally realize the problems lie in the roster they have constructed. A big overhaul is needed, but the Reds brass cannot bring themselves to a realization that they have failed and bungled this rebuild.
    More teams will enter the rebuild phase this year flooding the trade market again much like Miami did this winter. It is imperative the Reds get a jump on the trade market or risk lesser returns on Gennett and at least 2 outfielders. Relievers will still have a robust market, but that will be very iffy on position players if the Reds hang on too long, AGAIN.

  18. another bob in nc

    Kudos for knowing it’s “best laid schemes” and not “best laid plans.”

  19. lwblogger2

    If you have great stuff, you can sometimes get away with some walks. You end up striking guys out and there is enough balance that sometimes those walks don’t haunt you big time. You still can’t really walk guys like Robert Stephenson but Romano’s BB% would be less of an issue if he also had a high K%. The thing is though, Romano doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff and therefore doesn’t K a lot of guys. He can’t walk guys or he’s gonna get burned. He walked guys, he got burned.

    The first game of the DH was so much sweeter. Still, a split was a good outcome. The Reds couldn’t win on Sunday to even the series. That would have been another step in the right direction. Instead, they win 1 out of 4, at home, which is not good.