Today’s Reds lineup might be as good as Manager Jim Riggleman can concoct at this point in time. (See below.)
He’s riding two hot hands, Scott Schebler batting leadoff and Jesse Winker batting sixth – the opposite of where we would normally expect to see them in the lineup. Batting in the leadoff spot the last two games, Schebler is 7-for-12 – small sample size, but great for a leadoff batter if it continues. Batting down in the order, Winker hit the game-winning homer Thursday, and knocked in the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth Friday – terrific clutch hitting.
What I hope we’re seeing is the beginning of a strict outfield platoon, instead of the four-man rotation. Schebler is showing signs of perhaps having a breakout year and establishing himself as an above-average regular major league outfielder. He needs to play every day. So does Winker, who despite recent struggles, is among the league leaders in on-base percentage:
Jesse Winker now ranks in the top 15 in the National League with a .374 OBP. Just slightly ahead of Bryce Harper and Buster Posey.
His plate discipline has been exceptional – 28 BB/29 K; 22.4 O-Swing %. #Reds
— OnBaseMachine (@RedsFan_Brandon) June 9, 2018
It’s time for the two Reds outfielders who are producing, Schebler and Winker, to play every day, and for the two who are not – Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall – to share playing time in a platoon. Because the latter two are Gold-Glove-caliber defenders in center and left field, respectively, there will be some shifting to get them in their best defensive position each day.
When the Reds can acquire a starting outfielder, or promote one from within, both Hamilton and Duvall head to the bench. I’m going to propose the best solution to that situation is to get Nick Senzel playing in the outfield at Louisville. Find out if he can play any or all of the outfield positions. Before the season, the assumption was that he was going to Louisville to play second base with the intent of eventually replacing Scooter Gennett. Well, an odd thing happened on the way to that transition – Gennett became one of the most productive hitters in the majors. Those of us who saw Gennett play the outfield last year know he doesn’t have the skills to play it every day. (Some would argue the same about second base.)
Gennett is currently a defensive liability wherever you play him. Ideally, you’d trade him for a starting major league outfielder or a starting pitcher, but that isn’t likely to happen. And you can’t trade one of the top hitters in the majors, for whom you still have more than a year of contract control, for a prospect. So this is why you find out what Senzel can do in the outfield. It also gives him time to stay at Louisville and determine whether the recurring vertigo issues are now in the past, or if they are going to crop up again. The last thing you need is Senzel coming to the bigs, starting his major league time clock, and having him end up on the DL with a recurrence of vertigo.
Today’s lineup also has Jose Peraza batting eighth, which is probably where he belongs on a regular basis.
Hopefully this lineup will enable the Reds to stop their 12-game losing streak at the hands of the Cardinals, eight of them coming this season. Game time for Scooter Gennett bobblehead day is 4:10 p.m. Eastern time at Great American Ball Park.
Wacha has had tremendous success against the Reds in his career, with a 10-1 record vs. Cincinnati, including eight in a row. Over the first two-plus months of the season, he’s been one of the top starting pitchers in the National League. Past performance indicates this could be a bad day for the home team.
After a terrible April, Luis Castillo has begun to right the ship. In May and early June, he is 3-3 with a 4.01 ERA. Opponents were hitting over .300 against him in April. Since then, he’s holding teams to a .240 batting average against. These are not Wacha-like statistics, but they are what you must see from a young pitcher in a situation like the Reds are in. If he’s not improving and getting better, find someone who will. Castillo’s performance trend is upward, unlike most of his peers in the rotation.
Michael Lorenzen pitched two innings last night and may not be available as a result. Everyone else should be available for work.
|3B Matt Carpenter||CF Scott Schebler|
|CF Tommy Pham||C Tucker Barnhart|
|1B Jose Martinez||1B Joey Votto|
|LF Marcell Ozuna||2B Scooter Gennett|
|C Yadier Molina||3B Eugenio Suarez|
|2B Jedd Gyorko||RF Jesse Winker|
|RF Dexter Fowler||LF Adam Duvall|
|SS Yairo Munoz||SS Jose Peraza|
|P Michael Wacha||P Luis Castillo|
News and Notes
10 years ago today, Junior clubbed HR number 600 …
Ten years ago today, Junior becomes the sixth member of the illustrious 6️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ HR club. pic.twitter.com/hkwgg4Ud4U
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 9, 2018
Happy birthday, Dave Parker!
— St. Abner (@Saint_Abner) June 9, 2018
Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.