With tonight’s loss the Reds are 1-1 in June, 3-5 on this road trip and 12-11 since May 8. They finish the Left Coast swing tomorrow (6:10 p.m ET start) and head home for a 6-game home stand against the Rockies and stupid Cardinals.
The Reds are also now forty games into the Jim Riggleman Era and stand 17-23 since Riggleman replaced Bryan Price. That winning rate is below what most folks expected for the Reds this year. But because people who are paid to talk and write need something to talk and write about, Reds broadcasters and press are floating a fluffy narrative about Riggleman’s positive effect on the Reds fundamentals. The Reds were really, really bad at the end under Price, but they aren’t sharper at baseball fundamentals under the new boss. You still see plenty of errors, missed bunts, pickoffs and throws to the wrong places. So I’m not buying Riggleman as the tough love genius. But hey, narrative.
And Riggleman has floundered spectacularly in other respects. He was rambling and incoherent Wednesday in explaining why he was benching Jesse Winker, betraying a certain imprecision in thinking. Then, the very next game, Winker was leading off. Riggleman was asked about it yesterday and, well, wow.
“We just can’t have Jesse sitting that much. He’s a talented young hitter. I won’t say that it’s going to be a rotation like it was before, but certainly I’m going to get Jesse’s bat in there. I’ve rethought it. I just don’t want him to be sitting four and five days at a time and just pinch-hitting. We want to get him in there. He’s working very hard on his defense.”
That’s the exact opposite of what he’d said on Wednesday. Who can make any sense of it all? He gave the situation a second thought after looking at the schedule. He has a new appreciation of Winker’s work on defense. He doesn’t want Winker sitting. It isn’t a rotation like before, but what he described sure sounds like a rotation. Maybe the front office intervened (although Riggleman said they were involved in the initial decision). I don’t know about you, but I prefer my managers — general and field — to give big decisions about important young players second and third thoughts before making and announcing them.
If Riggleman is this confusing when trying to clarify the situation for the public, you wonder how well the players involved understand what’s going on. In the end, that’s what matters. Add to the outfield fiasco the puzzling case of Homer Bailey. According to Bailey, Riggleman didn’t talk to the veteran pitcher before speaking with the media about Bailey’s demotion to the bullpen. Bailey declined to talk to the press initially because he didn’t know anything about the decision. Had the Reds cleared things up yet, asked a day later? “Not really… They talked to you (the media) before me …” said Bailey yesterday. Blergh.
When major league players are asked what qualities they value in a manager, they nearly always put communication at the top of the list. Judging from what we’ve seen recently, Jim Riggleman seems like an outright disaster when it comes to that.
Cincinnati Reds 2 (21-38) • San Diego Padres 8 (26-34)
Matt Harvey lasted five innings and gave up four earned runs. He struck out three and walked one. The main damage was done in the 2nd inning when the Padres struck for four runs. Harvey gave up a double, a couple singles, a walk, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly to the opposing pitcher. The Padres didn’t exactly rough up Harvey in the 2nd, but he wasn’t sharp, either.
As Harvey’s numbers creep up (5.79 ERA, 5.02 FIP) it’s worth wondering what the Reds plans are concerning him. Harvey becomes a free agent at the end of the season. The Reds were hoping to establish trade value and move Harvey. What now? Do they let him start every fifth game until the non-waiver trade deadline July 31? Until the waiver-deadline on Sept 1? And isn’t it already clear that any return will be pretty small? Every start Matt Harvey makes is one that a young pitcher can’t fill, sacrificing that valuable experience. Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen. Just sayin’.
Begun, The Curt Casali Era Has The Reds called up catcher Curt Casali today. Casali has played in 161 major league games for the Tampa Bay Rays dating back to 2014. He homered in his first plate appearance tonight, dinger number 20 of his career. Casali became the first player to homer in his first AB for the Reds since Adam Duvall in 2015. Casali added a second hit and a walk tonight. The Reds acquired Casali from the Rays for cash this week. Casali had been playing at the AAA level for Tampa Bay this year. FWIW, his defensive WAR has been solidly positive in the majors.
Scheblast Scott Schebler hit a solo home run in the 9th inning, his seventh of the season.
Disco Returns I didn’t hear the pre-game interview, but Marty Brennaman said later that Jim Riggleman told him that Anthony DeSclafani was starting Tuesday or Wednesday. If that’s accurate, it’s great news. It’s also news to the Reds website, where you’ll find Sal Romano scheduled for Tuesday and Tyler Mahle for the next day. TBA is shown for Thursday, so maybe that’s what Riggleman meant.
Michael Lorenzen was unavailable today because he pitched four innings in relief last night. Maybe the Reds are finally stretching Lorenzen out to give him a chance to start. He threw 48 pitches. It’s not like the bullpen needed a break, they’d been off the day before. With Homer Bailey exiled to the bullpen and Sal Romano struggling (6.00 ERA, 5.06 xFIP), it’s worth the experiment. Riggleman was asked last night if Lorenzen might start: “We hadn’t thought about that. That was where he ran into some injury issues in the past. But he could probably do anything, but we’re not thinking about that right now.” Please at least THINK about it. #StartLorenzen
Woke Cowboy Jeff Brantley: If the Reds aren’t going to have Billy Hamilton steal bases, they should start Scott Schebler in centerfield.
Bailey’s Knee John Fay reports that Bailey has been dealing with a right knee issue for a month. Fay said a couple staff members looked him in the eye and told him that today. If that’s the case, and the club knew, it’s bizzare that they went through this awkward (some would use stronger words that violate our site guidelines) process of demoting him to the bullpen first. Why not just put Bailey on the DL and punt the bullpen thing down the road for a week or so? What an embarrassing mess.
Have Pride If you watch the Reds on Fox Sports Ohio, you’ve seen the Captain America bobblehead commercial eleventy billion times by now. That promotion is this Friday, June 8. On the same night at GABP, the Reds are holding their first Pride Community Night for the LGBT community. I haven’t seen a single ad promoting that. The Reds Insider email sent a couple days ago highlights several other events at the upcoming home stand, but not Pride Community Night. It’s great that the Reds have joined the vast majority of major league teams to have a Pride night, but it would be a nice gesture if they showed a tenth of the, you know, pride, in sponsoring it as they do celebrating a fictional character.
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.