After a rare successful visit to the West Coast earlier in the month, the Reds (18-33) are heading back for a six-game road trip starting this weekend. The first stop is Denver, where they’ll take on the Rockies (26-24), the leaders in the NL West, tonight at 8:40 p.m. ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Sal Romano 49.2 5.62 5.09 15.1% 11.1%
Jon Gray 55.2 5.34 2.92 26.0% 5.4%

The wheels have flown off for Sal Romano, who could very well be pitching for his spot in the rotation with the return of Anthony DeSclafani — who is making a rehab start tonight — looming. Romano has been bashed for 13 runs on 14 hits and eight walks over his last two starts and 7 1/3 innings, erasing what was a solid start to his first full season. Without a dependable third pitch, the right-hander has largely been done in by poor fastball command. His K%-BB% (4.0%) is also the sixth-worst mark among all pitchers with 40 or more innings pitched, illustrating both his inability to fan hitters and his erratic control. A solid outing tonight is essential for the 24-year-old, though the task will be tough in Coors Field.

Romano vs. Rockies


Among all qualified pitchers, nobody has a larger differential between their ERA and FIP than Jon Gray. The electric 26-year-old has the strikeout and walk numbers of an elite pitcher, but run prevention has still been a problem for him. Both his home (6.04) and road (4.61) ERAs are rather unsightly, as Gray has essentially been all or nothing in each of his 10 starts. Aside from his three-run, four-inning outing on Opening Day, the right-hander has either allowed one run or fewer (four times) or five runs or more (five times) in all of his outings. After three straight starts of the former, his last two trips to the mound have fallen under the latter category.

Gray has had plenty of bad luck, allowing a .371 BABIP and a lowly strand rate of 63.7%, but he’s giving up a lot of hard contact (37.5 Hard%), too. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan noted earlier in the season, part of Gray’s problem has been pitching from the stretch. With the bases empty, he’s allowing a .273/.304/.447 slash line with a 31.2 K% and 3.6 BB%. When runners are on base, those numbers fall to .302/.354/.463 with a 19.2 K% and 7.7 BB%. If the Reds can get plenty of baserunners tonight, Gray is clearly vulnerable.

As far as his repertoire, Gray relies primarily on a four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball. His fastball averages 95.4 mph and reaches the upper-90s. His slider, at a 31.4% usage rate, is his go-to secondary pitch and holds a 17.9% swinging-strike rate.

Gray vs. Reds

Lineups

Reds

1. Jesse Winker (LF)
2. Tucker Barnhart (C)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Scooter Gennett (2B)
5. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
6. Scott Schebler (RF)
7. Jose Peraza (SS)
8. Sal Romano (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)

Rockies

1. Charlie Blackmon (CF)
2. David Dahl (RF)
3. Nolan Arenado (3B)
4. Gerardo Parra (LF)
5. Trevor Story (SS)
6. Ian Desmond (1B)
7. Tony Wolters (C)
8. Pat Valaika (2B)
9. Jon Gray (P)

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Stat of the Day

It’s hard to overstate what a boost Eugenio Suarez has been to the Reds’ offense this year, batting .280/.356/.568 with 19 extra-base hits (8 HR) and 38 RBI in just 146 plate appearances and 34 games. Few players in baseball have hit the ball consistently hard as Suarez, who ranks 10th in hard-contact rate (47.5%) among all players with 100 or more trips to the plate. His soft-contact rate (11.1%) comes in at 21st, one spot behind teammate Tucker Barnhart.

Suarez’s average exit velocity (91.5 mph) is first among Reds hitters by over a full mile per hour, and his xwOBA (which Steve Mancuso talked about in the linked post) ranks 28th among 262 players with 100+ plate appearances.

Final Thoughts

Coors Field has never been kind to the Reds, who are 40-59 all-time when playing in Denver. The team does have a little momentum working in their favor, however. While still a flawed team, the Reds have played more respectable baseball lately and are coming off their first series win over an NL Central team this year. Their pitchers will also have a potential advantage of going against a struggling lineup. The Rockies offense isn’t the threat it’s been in recent years, ranking 22nd in baseball in runs scored (196), 25th in on-base percentage (.303), 27th in batting average (.228), and dead last in fWAR (0.4) and wRC+ (73). We’ll see if it all adds up to another series victory starting tonight.

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! 31 Comments

  1. Another note,
    The Rox are 7 – 11 at home this year.
    Good chance for a Reds win.

  2. Rox are 7 – 11 at home this year.
    Good chance to take 2 out of 3.

  3. Blaargh seems like I just got over the last West coast trip. The San Diego games are going to be killers. I’ve been on Winkers behind the last couple of weeks. Good to see him homer and hitting the ball better. Live and die with this team. Hope Sal and the offense kicks but tonight.

  4. With Coors super-sized outfield, both offenses are usually front and center.

  5. It is a 9 games in 10 days road trip west. Colorado, Arizona, and SD. Off day on the 31st. I hope for at least a 5-4 trip.

  6. This road trip will go as Romano and Bailey go. I think the Reds will be at least 3-2, maybe even 4-1 when Mahle, Castillo and Harvey are on the mound. But they could be anywhere from 3-1 to 0-4 when Sal and Homer start. The Reds offense and bullpen, and 3 of 5 starters are competitive. But those last two starters are holding them back right now. Here’s hoping they both find some command for this 9 game trial by west coast fire.

  7. I look forward to seeing how Jose Peraza’s bat plays here.

    • Still weak flyballs to right….never going to change much unless he actually starts trying to drive the ball.

  8. Really liking Barnhart in the 2 hole.

  9. Scooter, doin’ what he does

  10. Billy doing what he does, swinging at a pitch that bounced in front of home plate for strike three 😳.

  11. Mariners just traded with Rays for Alex Colome (closer) and Denard Span (OF), giving up Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero (both SP). If I had to make comparisons to current Reds, I suppose it would be Duvall and a reliever not named Iglesias – but that comparison is a little weak.

    No super prospects involved, of course, but Romero is a pretty nice pitcher that’s only in Single-A.

    • The Reds will get very little in return for Duvall. He has no real value to any team other than the Reds. Just hope to a get a low level player that is performing at that level.

  12. Suarez is good

  13. Votto Suarez is a really good 3/4 combo.

  14. SUAREZ!

  15. Suarez and Scooter are raking and Votto is slowing picking it up. They just have to come to grips with Billy and Peraza. They cannot and will not hit. Ever! They could give Blandino some time at SS! Why not? He knows the strike zone and has some pop unlike Peraza. Billy can start in the big outfields like Colorado but give it to Scheber for everywhere else!

  16. Can’t walk guys in Colorado.Romano just trying to get sent back down.

    • Both walks were pretty much intentional. I have no problem pitching around Arrenado

      • But the walking in a run was just bad

      • I agree but both guys that followed brought in 3 runs.If you walk em you have to get the guy that follows.

  17. What in the world was Suarez thinking? Had the guy trapped off 2nd and he threw to 1st??? Everybody’s safe

  18. Disco can’t get here fast enough. Or Stephenson. Romano just can’t get over the nibbling.

  19. Romano sucks! The Reds have to get over this theory of pre-determining who can start and who should relieve. Garrett and Lorenzen have better arms and better stuff then Romano and therefore need to pitch more innings for the good of the team. Period!

  20. Billy with a basehit. I’ve looked it up before but he’s hitting like .360 in Coors lifetime. I don’t know why we can’t trade him to Colorado? He could save them a few runs every homestand and save Blackmon some wear and tear by moving to a corner outfield spot.

  21. Seen enough tonight.Romano gives up a 3 run lead and we don’t score after 1st and 3rd with one out.Bring home the win nation and see you tomorrow.Go Reds.

  22. I hope somebody is up in the bullpen. Romano has nothing.

  23. Riggleman, Price, and Baker are probably the only three people in the world who would have let Romano hit for himself leading off the 6th inning.

    • That was a head scratcher. The Reds playbook binder needs to be thrown off one of those mountains before they leave.

  24. Just checked back to see what happened and well its looks like we didn’t even mount a threat after I left.Say what you want but until we address the holes we have offensively with Peraza and Billy we won’t keep up.Not blaming them for tonight’s loss but they don’t and won’t ever do enough offensively.Ignoring their stats and hoping they improve is fools gold.With no power and a obp in the 280’s the Reds just have to look elsewhere for some production.

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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.

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2018 Reds, Game Thread

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