With six wins in their last eight games and a 21-21 record over the past 42, the Reds are playing the kind of baseball that fans with an optimistic outlook hoped for this year. The 7-24 start to the season can be attributed to the typical long injury list to start the season, particularly to pitchers, and the fact that the Reds played a Murderer’s Row schedule of opponents in the first month. With the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates (currently 36-37), they didn’t play a single game against a team that is currently under .500 until Friday, May 4, against the Miami Marlins. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s when the current streak with a 21-21 record began.

During the 6-2 streak in the past eight games, the starting pitching has given up 14 runs in eight games. Twice during that streak, the starters held the opponents scoreless. When you have a lights-out bullpen, that kind of starting pitching will get the job done. Four of the six wins in the streak came against sub-.500 teams, so the lesser quality of opponent certainly has to be considered a factor.

We learned what, in retrospect, was a painful yet valuable lesson during the first month of the season: The Reds are nowhere close to being able to compete on a daily basis with the cream of major league teams. Had the schedule been different and this current 21-21 streak occurred against lesser competition at the start of the season, there would be a widespread belief that the rebuild was over and it was time to compete. But those games against the Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Cardinals, Brewers, Diamondbacks, etc., etc., would have come at some point, and the results would likely have been very similar. Despite the recent turn in a positive direction, clearly the team has to locate some quality starting pitching to take the next step. If the starting pitchers currently on the staff make strides throughout the rest of the season, fine. What we’ve seen over the past few years would lead one to believe that it’s not something we should necessarily count on.

It’s back to reality for the Reds tonight in the opener of a four-game series against the first-place Cubs (by three percentage points), starting at 7:10 Eastern time at Great American Ball Park. Prior to the game, the Reds announced these roster moves:

  • OF Scott Schebler placed on bereavement list
  • OF Phillip Ervin recalled from Louisville
  • LHP Wandy Peralta optioned to Louisville
  • Contract of LHP Kyle Crockett selected from Louisville and added to major league roster
  • C Tony Cruz released from Louisville to make room on 40-man roster for Crockett

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Kyle Hendricks 83.2 3.55 4.06 18.7% 6.7%
Matt Harvey 62.1 5.92 4.56 17.0% 7.0%

Today’s matchup features a couple of pitchers who are prone to giving up the long ball. Righthander Hendricks has surrendered 14 in 83.2 innings, or one every six innings. Major league hitters have sent left Matt Harvey deliveries out of the yard 13 times in 62.1 innings, or one about every four and two-thirds innings.

Harvey’s trend has been to have one bad inning per start, with the remaining innings ranging from decent to pretty-darn-good-looking. If the goal of the Reds front office was to flip Harvey at the trade deadline for prospects, he really hasn’t shown enough yet to warrant any interest from a contending club that needs a starter.

Bullpen

Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen and Jared Hughes all recorded holds and Raisel Iglesias got the save in Thursday afternoon’s win against Detroit. That foursome is quite formidable out of the bullpen at the moment, and compares favorably to just about any other major league team’s bullpen. Also available are David Hernandez and Dylan Floro, both who have done terrific jobs. Crockett will take Peralta’s spot as a bullpen lefthander. Crockett has a 4.00 ERA in 27 relief innings for the Bats. It was past time for Peralta to go to Louisville and see if he can somehow regain the form he had at the beginning of 2017 but has largely eluded him since.

Many in Redleg Nation continue to call for Garrett and Lorenzen to move to the rotation, where they would be in a position to pitch more innings. This correspondent’s position is that those two have been largely unhittable in relief roles this year. Why mess with something that isn’t broken? Do you remember how horrific the bullpen was two years ago? (Yes, the Ross Ohlendorf / Jumbo Diaz / Blake Wood group.) Garrett and Lorenzen might help fill the closer role later if Iglesias is traded.

Starting Lineups

Cubs Reds
3B Kris Bryant SS Jose Peraza
RF Jason Heyward C Tucker Barnhart
2B Javier Baez 1B Joey Votto
1B Anthony Rizzo 2B Scooter Gennett
SS Addison Russell 3B Eugenio Suarez
LF Kyle Schwarber RF Jesse Winker
C Willson Contreras LF Adam Duvall
CF Ian Happ P Matt Harvey
P Kyle Hendricks CF Billy Hamilton

News and Notes

Check out some of Joey Votto’s peers …

and some of what he’s been up to recently …

The source of this tweet identifies himself as a Cubs staff writer for @WrigleyRapport and a contributor to @CubbiesCrib of @Fansided. Note that the author of the Tweet considers Hamilton as a bench piece for a contending team and not a starter …

The Reds announced some minor league promotions today …

50 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    Tom,

    Excellent setup, especially mixing the enjoyment of the Reds playing better of late with the reality of their current position in the division and in the NL overall.

    To back up your thoughts, from the ESPN.com preview headline of this game:

    “Any time seems to be the right time for the Chicago Cubs to the play the NL Central Reds.
    After all, Chicago took 43 of 62 from Cincinnati over the last 4 seasons.”

    Yikes.

    Go Redlegs.

  2. ManuelT

    The 7-24 start to the season can be attributed to the typical long injury list to start the season, particularly to pitchers, and the fact that the Reds played a Murderer’s Row schedule of opponents in the first month.

    Also, mismanagement. No way Homer Bailey, Cliff Pennington, Phil Gosselin should have been given so much playing time over much better options.

  3. docproctor

    I know others have said this already, but slugger Bryant is batting leadoff for the Cubs. What keep us from batting Scooter, Suarez, and Votto at the top of the lineup?
    I know, the answer Riggleman and outdated thinking.

  4. Darrin

    Perazas OBP is 373 over the past month……call me crazy, but I feel that may not be sustainable.

  5. Bill

    Looks like Trammell will finish the year in A. I’m guessing 2021 before he will be considered for the Majors. Even more of a reason to find a CF to replace Hamilton instead of waiting for Trammell to save the day in 2020

  6. Indy Red Man

    Winker with an ops over .800 in June. That really surprises me….doesn’t seem like he’s doing much at all? I guess its the 3-23 since he won the Toyota for the lady. He’s got to keep looking the other way like Joey. He rolled over on the last doubleplay and thats unusual for him. I think he’ll be a good player but he needs to hit the weights! I think his speed would even pick up a tick!

  7. roger garrett

    The thought behind Harvey bringing something in a trade was a big chance to start with and it looks bigger all the time.Time to let Bob or somebody else take his spot.

  8. Indy Red Man

    Johnny Bench’s comments on Homer apply to Harvey as well. He has better stuff then Homer, but no deception whatsoever and his breaking stuff usually rolls/hangs instead of snapping. He seems to know that so he just keeps chucking fastballs. Its time to end this experiment but we know how they are. Arroyo was obviously done but they kept forcing that on us.

  9. Indy Red Man

    Bats down 11-1 after 3…lol. Durham has 11 runs on 14 hits. Tough night for Jose Lopez but Senzel has a HR atleast. Too bad he’ll be stuck in Lville til he’s 26.

  10. Broseph

    At least we won’t have to bear another relief appearance by Peralta today. Sent down to bean people in AAA.

  11. seat101

    Two earned runs in four innings. And with a little bit of luck there would be just one earned run.

    I really don’t understand all the complaining

    • Bill

      Up to five innings now. I won’t complain about giving up two runs to the Cubs, especially if he makes it through six

  12. Broseph

    He may be one of the best hitters in the game, but someone needs to inform Votto the bat is for swinging.

    Goodness his check swings this year are through the roof. Just let it rip man.

  13. roger garrett

    Their guy is throwing 86 and Joey took 3 straight to strike out.He got the heart of our order on 6 pitches.

    • Bill

      It took him about 30 in the first inning

  14. Indy Red Man

    Harvey got it together! I was expecting a meltdown like usual versus the Cubs. They need to put up some runs on them though? We barely scored in that last 4 game series vs them. They have a good staff, but Hendricks hasn’t been going well? This game is right there if they swing the bats?

  15. Mike Adams

    It is SO sweet to lay the based loaded walk by Suarez on the Cubs, then the Slam by Winker!

  16. docproctor

    Harvey’s line for tonight: 6 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, 6 Ks.
    That’s a 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and a quality start. Against the Cubs.
    And he hit 97 on the radar gun several times in his final inning.
    And now maybe the win.
    Hope the scouts are watching.

  17. Indy Red Man

    Oh man? Biggest hit of the year for the Reds and storms took out my Directv? Oh well….thats huge for Jesse!! A granny off of a lefty no less!!

  18. BigRedMike

    What an inning for the Reds. Great to see Winker with a HR

  19. Jazzmanbbfan

    As of this moment, both Billy and Duvall are finally above the Mendoza line.

  20. Indy Red Man

    I didn’t check it, but I think Suarez had a high of 14 hrs or something in the minors. Hopefully, Winker will get stronger and gain power as he matures as a hitter.

  21. docproctor

    I saw him hit the longest HR of the spring in Goodyear.
    I saw him hit the Toyota sign.
    I saw him hit a barely foul ball over the foul pole in RF.
    And I saw him mash this grand slam.
    Time to quit calling Jesse a one-tool player.

    • Jack

      I kept rewinding his grand slam and I couldn’t tell but did it hit the Toyota sign again?

  22. George

    The Reds didn’t “buckle” in the top of the 7th. That is a great step forward against the Cubs.

  23. Grand Salami

    Garrett came in cold against Rizzo in total high leverage situation. The result: Garrett makes him look like AA player.

  24. Tom Mitsoff

    This game is a lot of fun to watch, isn’t it? 🙂

    • George

      Great “preview” for Harvey. That’s two very good starts in a row. A team with a bigger ballpark could be a place. Let’s get 4 more outs and get home!!!

      • Indy Red Man

        Problem is there are no races in the AL? Yankees, Boston, Houston, and Seattle are all on pace for 100+ wins. I think Seattle is 7 ahead of the Angels and 8 on Oakland. LA or Oakland might be a fit? Seattle could be. Arizona maybe?

  25. Indy Red Man

    Senzel with 2 bombs tonite. Interesting night for the ole Redlegs:)

      • Indy Red Man

        Its really pretty simple….trade Billy and move Scooter to LF. Or…..move Senzel or Suarez to SS? They lose Dilson Herrera if they don’t call him up so I’d trade Billy and trade/send down Peraza too. The defense might be terrible at times, but they could see what Senzel and Herrera could do at the same time! Evaluation is the most important thing!

  26. Grand Salami

    Garrett led with an off speed pitch to Rizzo and had him completely out of sorts. He has been throwing only FB for 2/3 of this second inning of work. Why?

  27. Indy Red Man

    Dodgers actually make sense for Harvey. Kershaw just coming back and Walker Buehler is out. Their other guys haven’t been great and its hard to hit it out of there!

  28. Grand Salami

    Riggleman would still make a good bench coach. Has a good feel for bullpen and the right time to make moves.

  29. Luckeydad

    Love to see the Cub fans leave early, games in Cincinnati are Wrigley east.

  30. Tom Mitsoff

    That’s what a well-played game between two good teams looks like. Reds had good starting pitching, clutch hitting and clutch relief pitching. I’m not saying the Reds are a good team yet, but we saw some signs tonight of potentially brighter days.

    • George

      The players looked focused yet loose tonight. You are right, not yet, but the glimpse of a winning attitude was great.

  31. George

    For the price of food, beer, tickets, parking for one game in Chicago, Cub fans can get in two games, overnight motel, food and drink at 2 games in Cincy.

  32. George

    I recently posted that the remaining 45 games against the central division teams would be a great barometer as what to expect next year. Test #1 passed. A+

  33. Luckeydad

    True, but do not like Chicago/Cinch games like a home game for the Cubs

  34. Luckeydad

    Good win though! Playing much better