Football is often called a “game of inches,” and last night, we all saw how baseball can be, too. Although the Reds (25-44) had plenty of chances to score more than two runs, they were still on the verge of tying the game in the ninth inning with Billy Hamilton on second base and Joey Votto at the plate. Votto roped a line drive down the left-field line that would’ve evened the game and put the go-ahead run at second. But the ball kept tailing and ultimately dropped foul by no more than a foot. Two pitches later, Votto struck out to snap the Reds’ three-game winning streak. The team will hope to have some better luck this afternoon in PNC Park when they take on the Pirates (34-35) for game two of the three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Luis Castillo 73.0 5.79 3.87 23.4% 9.2%
Ivan Nova 67.1 4.68 3.57 19.0% 4.1%

I’m afraid I may have jinxed Luis Castillo. I wrote about him two weeks ago and asked the question, “is the 2017 Castillo back?” I concluded that he was getting there, and then he gave up nine runs in 10 2/3 innings in his next two starts. Home runs continue to plague the second-year pitcher, who has allowed 15 on the season. Only five pitchers have allowed more in all of baseball. Command and control both continue to b problems for Castillo. He’s walked 14 in 26 2/3 innings (12.2 BB%) and has hit the strike zone only 40.6% of the time (league average: 43.2%).

Fortunately, Castillo’s raw stuff hasn’t seemed to diminish. His strikeout numbers remain strong, as he tied his career-high (10) in his last outing against the Cardinals He’s also fourth among all qualified pitchers in swinging-strike rate (14.6%) and trails only Max Scherzer and Chris Sale in overall contact rate (69.1%). It’s just a matter of recapturing his command (or perhaps recapturing the extra one or two miles per hour on his fastball).

Castillo vs. Pirates


The last time the Reds saw Ivan Nova, they roughed him up for five runs (four earned) and seven hits, including two home runs, in 5 1/3 innings. That capped off a horrific stretch for the veteran, who had allowed 25 runs (20 earned) in his last 23 2/3 innings before hitting the disabled list shortly thereafter. He missed just over two weeks with a sprained right middle finger and returned to the Pirates’ starting rotation on Sunday. Nova looked like his early-season self in his first game back, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run baseball with eight strikeouts.

That’s not the Nova to expect on most nights, however. He’s a pitcher who relies heavily on control rather than punching hitters out, having walked only 6.4% of batters he’s faced in his career and boasting a walk rate of less than 5.0% in the last three seasons. Without getting many strikeouts, though, Nova relies heavily on his defense and limiting hard contact. He hasn’t been successful at the latter this season. Among all pitchers with 200 or more batted balls against them, Nova has the highest average exit velocity allowed (91.2 mph). Not surprisingly, he’s allowed 10 home runs in just 67 1/3 innings this season as well.

Scouting report: Nova is a four-pitch pitcher who relies primarily on his sinker and four-seamer, which both average around 93 mph. He also mixes in a changeup, which gets the most swings and misses (19.3 SwStr%) and a curveball, which is his best pitch. Batters are hitting .145/.145/.327 against the breaking ball this season and whiffing 15.4% of the time it’s thrown. While Nova has been burned by home runs the last two years, he’s primarily a groundball pitcher as a sinker-baller. Among all pitchers with 60 or more innings this year, only eight have gotten more grounders than Nova (52.3 GB%).

Nova vs. Reds

Lineups

Reds

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

Pirates

1. Josh Harrison (2B)
2. Austin Meadows (RF)
3. Starling Marte (CF)
4. Colin Moran (3B)
5. Corey Dickerson (LF)
6. Josh Bell (1B)
7. Elias Diaz (C)
8. Jordy Mercer (SS)
9. Ivan Nova (P)

  • Billy Hamilton is back in the lineup as Adam Duvall sits. The outfield rotation should probably just be between them at this point.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Stat of the Day

Mike Trout has already been worth a ridiculous 5.9 fWAR this season. He’s on pace for one of the best years in baseball history. Since 1990, only eight Reds players have eclipsed that mark in an entire season, with Votto and Barry Larkin each responsible for three of those campaigns.

When was the last time a Reds player even broke 5.0 fWAR in the first half of a season? 1987, when the great Eric Davis hit .321/.413/.694 with 27 home runs and 33 stolen bases in 74 (!) games, worthy of a 5.1 fWAR.

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! 30 Comments

  1. Matt, I don’t know about that “game of inches, one play mattered most” thing.
    A game consists of many plays taken in total. I would guess for about 99% of games, be it baseball, football, basketball, for every play like the one you described, the other team could cite their own difference-maker play.
    As in “our guy so and so missed a home run by inches” or “missed a catch by inches”.
    For the most part that close stuff evens out and maybe one game in a hundred does one play have a significant effect on the win or loss.
    On the Tom Seaver no hitter the biggest thing that struck me was all those people in Riverfront Stadium. There weren’t many empty seats.

  2. Never forget Seavers no hitter. Only way to get the game on radio in upstate NY was in the corner of my bedroom. Loved listening on the radio and we didn’t get cable. We had 2 channels on TV and Monday night and Saturday afternoon were the only games you seen all week. Loved when the BRM were on though. Listening to that game made me feel like I was there, pitch for pitch.

    • Better reception on clouddy nghts when the ‘skip’ was more efficient. I loved those evenings with my transistor radio.

      • I’m 61yrs.old and started following Reds in 1968 on a transistor radio.This was a nightly ritual,and before Brenneman,and Micheals it was Jim Mcentyre with Nuxy.It was awesome.I wish I could go back to those days.Almost forgot these were with my dad sitting in his chair.

        • I’m 55. Started following the Reds in the early 70’s among all my Yankee friends (couldn’t go that way). I’m still here over 40 years later … and still frustrated.

  3. 40+ pitches through 2 innings. That’s just a formula for disaster in my book.

  4. Castillo/Hamilton

    re·gres·sion

    noun

    1. a return to a former or less developed state.

    • Hamilton will never be as good as a well below average hitter

      There is still hope for Castillo. Lot of home runs allowed and he has not made a step forward as hoped.

      Is there something with the Reds pitching coaching that is causing the performance of many young pitchers to go backwards?

  5. John Lamb 84 pitches through 5. Only 1 run given up.

    • I always liked Lamb and yet they looked at him as if he was an afterthought in the trade. Cody Reed was their golden boy because he throws hard. Lamb throws a slow curve at 66 or something and a heater at 92. Thats not easy to time for the hitter! I remember 1 start in Coors where he went 7 and gave up 1 run. I know he’s had some personal and injury issues but he’s also the only 1 of the 3 in the bigs currently! I thought he could atleast be a loogy with that slow curve!

      Castillo should be sent down to AAA for a while. It might do him good and give Lorenzen a shot. Luis needs something different? Refine a slider or split-finger pitch or something

  6. Leadoff double from Schebler….2-3-4 coming up and nothing. I give up. Paused the game and kept the viewing pain down to a minimum with fast forward. Back to cutting grass….tired of these losers!

  7. I wanted how long it would take before the plan of us got slammed about Lamb.

    This is a rebuilding year.

    Young players need to learn from their mistakes.

    A lot of people here act as though the Reds were expected to win the division by five games

    • Not sure what world you live in but nobody at the beginning of the year picked the Reds to win the division. Most people picked them to win anywhere between 65 and 75. Looking at the top 3 teams in the division , the Reds don’t even compare.

    • San Diego is 34-38. The Reds will be 25-45. Thats 8 games ahead of the Reds and one of their best 2 hitters has been out all year in Wil Myers. They have Eric Hosmer and some good relievers. The Reds have a few good relievers too. Otherwise….they have ZERO TALENT compared to the Reds. ZERO! The Reds are better at almost every position! Whose fault is it…if the Reds are just a young team that makes mistakes then why are teams like SD, Detroit, Tampa, Philly, Atlanta, etc etc etc…able to win many more games then the Reds? Miami completely blew their franchise up and still won the series in gabp. Sorry!! Thats not even close to acceptable!

    • What young players are playing for the Reds? Winker has started to play more now. Some of the starters are young and need to learn I would agree.

  8. Is Nick Senzel leading off and playing shortstop a misprint?

  9. Help me, did I Chris Welch say “watch Harrison’s front left leg”? If so does that mean he has front right leg?

    • He is talking about Zack Cozart’s donkey “Harrison” that wandered his way back to Cincinnati!

  10. They double switched and the outfielder they pulled was Schebler? Is he hurt or is Riggleman just stupid?

  11. Reds can’t beat anyone in their division this year. That’s a problem.

  12. Being one of the staunchest reds fan i know. I’ve just about had enough. Sell the team to someone who knows what a baseball looks like. When attendance is 5,000 and Fox ratings a 2 maybe…..just maybe……

  13. Why is Schebler out?

  14. Again. Haven’t we all seen effing enough of Billy Hamilton?

    • “Bob C” wants Billy to stay forever. Bob doesn’t care what the numbers say, he is the owner so that is all that counts.

  15. Average attendance is down 3300 from last year. And BH, if he would have made the same catch Shebler made against the wall last night we would have heard Thom and Chris go on about it all night.

  16. Harvey is super impressive! That pitch to Baez was pinpoint. He opened up on the ball and really expected to drive it, but it was about 2 inches off the plate inside and jammed him! They need to do everything they can to keep him if at all possible? Or try to move him for a starting pitcher thats close with some upside!

Comments are closed.

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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