What a difference a few months make. After being swept by the Phillies (58-46) in April, the Reds (47-58) are on the verge of taking another series from a first-place club following a victory on Saturday evening. The Reds won’t have Joey Votto Funko Pop night to motivate them this afternoon, so they’ll really have to dig deep to pull off the victory.

First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Zach Eflin 71.1 3.41 4.04 23.1% 5.8%
Luis Castillo 108.2 5.30 4.02 21.6% 7.7%

Before this season, Zach Eflin was a relatively unknown pitcher who seemed unlikely to stick in the Phillies rotation once the rebuilding phase was complete. In the first two seasons of his career, he had a 5.85 ERA in 127.2 innings, and his peripheral numbers weren’t any better (5.79 FIP, 5.29 xFIP). While his control was decent, Eflin’s strikeouts were few and far between. Between 2016 and ’17, 192 pitchers threw at least 100 innings; only three had a lower strikeout rate than Eflin (12.0%) during that time. As the table above shows, he’s turned it all around this year at age 24 and nearly doubled his previous strikeout rate. What’s been the difference? Let’s take a look in the scouting report.

Scouting report: At the top of the list is velocity. The right-hander has added well over 1 mph to his four-seam fastball since last year, averaging 94.7. He’s also changed up his pitch mix, throwing his four-seamer and slider more often and his sinker less. His slider has a solid 13.7% swinging-strike rate — a career-best — largely because he’s getting more horizontal and vertical movement on the offering this season. Eflin has also thrown his changeup a bit more in 2018, and it’s been a solid pitch for whiffs (16.8 SwStr%), but batters have crushed it (.686 SLG) when they get ahold of it.


Overall, Luis Castillo’s sophomore season has not gone as hoped. He’s still among the league “leaders” in home runs allowed and has the fourth-highest ERA among all qualified pitchers. But he’s shown some signs of turning a corner recently. Although he’s still not getting deep into games, he’s allowed just three runs over his last two starts and 10.1 innings. He’s walked only one batter during that time and allowed just one homer. In fact, that’s the only long ball he’s allowed in his last five starts combined. Castillo’s fastball command is still a work in progress, but a potentially encouraging development did occur with the pitch in his last start.

The right-hander averaged 97.02 mph (a season best) on his four-seamer and 96.69 mph (second-best of the season) on his sinker against the Cardinals on July 23. If he can get back to throwing as hard as he did last year, when he averaged nearly 98 mph on the fastball, he may be able to get away with more mistakes in the strike zone. Let’s see if that trend continues today.

Lineups

Phillies

1. Carlos Santana (1B)
2. Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)
3. Odubel Herrera (CF)
4. Rhys Hoskins (LF)
5. Nick Williams (RF)
6. Maikel Franco (3B)
7. Scott Kingery (SS)
8. Jorge Alfaro (C)
9. Zach Eflin (P)

Reds

1. Jose Peraza (SS)
2. Scooter Gennett (2B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Mason Williams (CF)
6. Adam Duvall (LF)
7. Phillip Ervin (RF)
8. Curt Casali (C)
9. Luis Castillo (P)

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

The Reds continue to be connected with Zack Wheeler in trade rumors, but they have a lot of competition.

Matt Harvey isn’t garnering much trade interest despite his improvements with the Reds.

The Indians have some interest in Billy Hamilton.

Stat of the Day

Since June 1, Jose Peraza is batting .333/.393/.478 with 11 doubles, three triples, three home runs, and eight steals. His hard-contact rate is 35.1% during that time, which is almost equal to the league average (35.5%) this season. For the season, Peraza’s rate sits at 30.0%, a significant improvement over his paltry 21.4% mark last season.

71 Responses

  1. msanmoore

    And don’t overlook Peraza’s increased walks. I’m intrigued by his progress. He doesn’t have the same deer in the headlights look to me.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      He has made tremendous improvement offensively. I’m now confident with him at the plate that he will make the best out of whatever opportunities the opposing pitcher provides, in terms of pitches outside the strike zone, or bad location within the strike zone. I’m still not sold on him defensively as a long-term solution. Hopefully he will make similar positive strides with the glove.

      • Colorado Red

        takes a lot of hard work, but has been done by others before.
        Better D at Sort, mean more $$$ in future.
        Maybe not a bad pickup

    • Seat101

      I have absolutely nothing to back this up but I firmly believe that the previous manager, the one prior to the current interim manager, messed up Peraza in some way.

      Whatever happened to that Dilson guy?

      And do you think that Scooter would pass the Medical if he were to be traded?

      • Jim Walker

        I thought Scooter looked surprising strong turning those GIDPs last night.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        The only way Scooter is getting traded is for a top of the rotation starting pitcher with years of team contract control. So that’s not happening.

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    The interest in Wheeler is curious to me. He’s doing very well, but has only one year of team control left after this season. That doesn’t seem like the kind of player that would be a good fit.

    I think Hamilton is their best trade chip. There are certainly other teams who think they can help him “figure it out.” I don’t have the numbers to back up this assertion, but … he certainly wins a lot of games with his glove and speed, but I would bet that he loses as many or more with his bat. To me, if you can get a veteran starting pitcher with three or more years of control, or a top Class AAA starting pitching prospect for him, you do it. Starting pitching is the only thing holding this team back right now.

    I don’t think they’ll trade Harvey if they can’t get at least one legitimate prospect. Harvey was quoted on Cincinnati.com as saying that he loves being with the Reds and throwing to Tucker Barnhart. I think there may be a real mutual interest developing there, and Dick Williams may want to take a longer look to see if there is real value in a new contract with Harvey.

    My sense of this fast-approaching trade deadline is that Williams won’t make any trade just to “make a trade” or just to clear someone out to make room for someone else. Williams seems to place very high value on his assets, and that has worked out well more often than not in his trades to date.

    • Indy Red Man

      I saw on the mlb network that Wheeler was 2nd best in the NL in soft contact. It makes me wonder why his numbers are better, but he’s got good stuff. I saw him hit 99 in a game about 5 weeks ago!

    • Jim Walker

      If it turns out all they can get for Harvey is a “lottery ticket” level prospect, I could see DW deciding he was worth more to the Reds as the stabilizing factor he has seemed to be with the rotation, the “Arroyo effect” if you will a year later from a guy who can still actually go to the mound walk the talk.

      Williams certainly laid down a hard sell marketing pitch for BHam in that Buster Olney interview that got a lot of play several weeks back. I tend to believe he would like to move Hamilton here at deadline but might be somewhat less inclined because the injuries which have cut into his OF depth in the last 2 weeks. Interesting to see that Hamilton is not in the lineup today. Could Hamilton’s future with the Reds hang on Mason Williams’ defensive performance in CF today?

      • Klugo

        The rotation has been different since the addition of Harvey and Disco. Coincidence? Probably not.

    • Colorado Red

      Never the less, Matt is a FA at the end of the year.
      Could sign with someone else, or the Reds either way.
      Pick up a decent prospect, and then sign him in the off-season.
      Do not think anyone is going to offer the moon.
      May be a 1 year bridge contract?

    • Hanawi

      No way will they get a starting pitcher with control or even a top AAA prospect for Billy Hamilton. Talk about overvaluing your assets. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Reds did put a price like this on him. They overvalue every guy which is why they don’t make trades and make the team better.

      They are acting like they are in the wild card hunt right now and need one starter to make a World Series run next year. Yet this is basically the same team that has lost 90 games on an annual basis and may do so again this year. It’s madness.

      • Bob Purkey

        Hanawi: You beat me too it! “a top prospect or a SP with controllable years” for Billy???? My beer almost came out my nose when I read that!

      • greenmtred

        They have, for two months, been playing well enough to be in the WC hunt. The bad start doomed this season, but it hasn’t doomed 2019.

  3. Indy Red Man

    Thats nonsense about Harvey? He’d be Oakland’s 2nd best starter? A guy throwing 96-97 with control and big game experience. He would do well if he went to a big park like Oakland, Seattle, Arizona, LA, or even Colorado. Take Billy with him though….take Billy somewhere and leave him there. Joe Dirt style!

    • Jim Walker

      I can’t believe they would nontender Hamilton in the off season which means the deadline is probably the best chance to keep his arb inflated salary off the 2019 books and get a somewhat reasonable return on him in the process.

  4. Shchi Cossack

    I think every contender that whiffs on their offer for Harvey will regret the decision to not pursue him aggressively, but the team that lands him, despite an aggressive offer or not, may land a key to the deep playoff run. The Reds simply have to take the best offer, no matter the value.

    • scotly50

      That fact is not lost on the rest of the league !

    • Jim Walker

      I agreed 100% for a long while. Now I am at least open to considering otherwise.

      If the best they can get at the deadline is a lottery pick grade prospect there may be a better deal to be had after the deadline whether or not they can get him through waivers or cut it with claiming team rather than pulling him back.
      There is a chance somebody claims him on a blocking bluff; but it is much more likely he clears waivers or is claimed by somebody who wants him.

      What would seem certain is some contender is going to have an emergency before the end of August; and, if he has cleared, he would figure to one of the most attractive options available.

      They weren’t going to get anything for Mesoraco anyway; so, nothing ventured; nothing gained.

      Just another way of looking at it.

  5. Seat101

    If we happen to not trade Harvey, I bet you the current interim manager will let him pitch past the fifth inning

  6. Streamer88

    I remain convinced we need to leverage the lack of market for Harvey against Boras’ crew to drive them down to 4/40 million and then sign him.

    This has been my hope and prediction all along. He has the IT factor. Only about 20-30 pitchers in MLB have it.

  7. WVRedlegs

    Cody Reed with a great start at Louisville lady night. He had 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 0 HR.
    BE nice to see him again in September.

  8. WVRedlegs

    It would be a significant achievement to take 3 of 4 from Philly. With Castillo going today the chances are pretty decent. Need some hits if they get bases loaded today.

  9. Bob Purkey

    Listen everybody, Harvey can still be traded after July 31st. He only has to be on a roster by August 31 to be post season eligible. Certainly, he must pass through waivers, but none of the bottom rung teams are going to claim him and probably the 1st potential contender will and then you can work out a trade. If not worked out, the Reds revoke his waivers if nothing gets worked out.

    • Hanawi

      Well, then you’re limited to dealing with one team who has most of the leverage. They would get way more for him now than they would in August. It’s not like he has an outrageous contract that a team would have to pick up. If he’s still pitching for the Reds after July 31st, it’s a huge fail.

      • Bob Purkey

        Not if they are currently being offered nothing for him. Injuries and desperation have a way of ramping up in August where one or 2 wins make the difference.

        I don’t disagree that trading him now is for the best, but if no offers squat, hold on to see what happens.

  10. docproctor

    Hope Williams and Ervin have big games today. So glad to have a CF who is not batting 9th.

  11. Broseph

    Votto.
    1st pitch fast ball for strike – watch
    2nd pitch breaking ball – ball
    3rd pitchbreaking ball – drop to knee and fall backwards on breaking ball outside corner
    Step out the box, talk to self take few swings
    4th – check swing bouncer to pitcher.

    Votto is my favorite player still, but his approach and mannerisms this season are more annoying than ever. Just swing if you’re going to swing.

    • VaRedsFan

      Yes, especially after putting together a full season of crushing last year. Disappointing

    • Bill

      Maybe Votto can hire you as his hitting coach to fix his approach.

    • REDLEGS64

      One AB vs a pitcher you rarely see is not much of a sample size.

      On the day, Joey had a decent day, but sometimes you’ve got to see a pitch or two!

  12. ManuelT

    I can’t believe that Williams, Duvall, and Ervin merit more playing time than Dilson Herrera. I know people will say he’s limited to 2B or that he’s injured. This is supposedly a season of sorting. Let Dilson play 2B but also LF, RF, and 3B. He has a higher ceiling than any of the above-mentioned three and, as such, Reds should invest in him with playing time. Otherwise, he never should have been called up. When you’re a losing team you can afford to experiment/sort.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      At some point, Suarez, Peraza or Gennett will have to get a day off, and that’s when we’ll see Herrera. (If Peraza gets the day off, Suarez will slide to SS and Herrera will play 3B.)

  13. VaRedsFan

    Dilson doesn’t play the outfield. You can’t just stick players wherever and expect results. Nowhere in baseball are all star players replaced by a rookie looking for playing time. He will get the occasional spot stat as the season continues.

  14. roger garrett

    I agree but unless Scooter goes down,Herrera will not see much if any playing time.Reds still believe there is a chance and that means you go with what you know.This team is good enough to hang around right where they are at record wise and maybe improve but to compete in the division or for a wild card just isn’t going to happen this year.That muddies the water for the organization.

  15. docproctor

    Ervin and Casali beat the snot out of our usual 7 and 8 hitters.

    • docproctor

      So let me get this straight: Our 7 and 8 batters get doubles, then our pitcher, batting 9th, bunts the guy over to third. The lineup then turns over.

      Is this how baseball is played on other teams?

  16. Indy Red Man

    Ervin & Casali with back to back doubles! Schebler will be back shortly. Mason WIlliams looks decent. There are always going to be hits to the outfield where we say “Billy would’ve had that one” but his bat is just too weak to carry him any longer!

    • roger garrett

      Its obvious Billy is a late inning defensive guy and pinch runner but we don’t count sooooo we continue to play on.

  17. roger garrett

    I was going to say that was not good about Peraza right there but Scooter picked him up.

  18. Indy Red Man

    Scooter! They’re teeing off on this guy now!!

  19. Old-school

    Ervin is 26 and a former first round pick. He needs to play.

    • Bill

      Being a first round pick is irrelevant. If he is the best option in the OF he should play, but he hasn’t proven to be anything more than a 4th OF in his previous stints with the Reds. With injuries right now he should get starts, but he is not part of the future plans

  20. bouwills

    Scratching my head wandering why there is no bidding war for one Scooter Gennett. Have people been watching his play?

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Many teams would love to have him, but Dick Williams is not going to give him away. He’s an All-Star and a player who has produced great offensive stats for more than a calendar year. He has very, very high value. The Reds are certainly asking for proven starting pitching for him.

    • Sabr Chris

      1. Many contending teams put a higher value on on the stats that suggest Scooter will regress, BABIP, swing rates, etc
      2. Many of those team don’t need a second baseman.
      3. Some may be scared of by the mysterious shoulder issue
      4. Some may be scared off by his defense
      5. I’m starting to think that the extra year of control is also scaring teams off…higher prospect price/next years budget

      In short, I don’t think his market is anywhere near as strong as we think.

  21. Indy Red Man

    It would be expensive. They know we need starters and offense isn’t our issue, but teams in the race need starters too!

  22. VaRedsFan

    Castillo need to be careful here. 2 outs, nobody on….if he gives up a hit, he might get pulled.

  23. Indy Red Man

    If I was Philly and Atlanta…I wouldn’t go overboard dealing prospects for a playoff push. Odds are that one (or both) will make it, but they’re not ready. I guess if Nola pulled a Hershiser or Josh Beckett then Philly could win a series. Actually the Cubs starters are bad. LA should beat everyone though!

  24. VaRedsFan

    Riggleman didn’t call for the bunt with Billy on 2nd last night…Peraza did it on his own.
    He must have just assumed.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      This might be his best game ever in the big leagues. He’s throwing strikes and hitting spots with both the fastball and the change.

      • Indy Red Man

        He looks great, but that one in Arizona last year was pretty nasty! 6.2, 3 hits, 1 walks and 8 Ks. He was hitting 100 that night and sitting at 98-99! At some point everybody has to learn how to pitch though and he’s doing it today!

      • roger garrett

        I agree Tom.He has been oh so close a few times this year in taking that next step and today he did it and was throwing 97 in the 7th.Great job.

  25. VaRedsFan

    Gallardo shut out Cleveland (6.0 ip) and Houston (5.1 ip) ….last 2 outings. MIND BLOWN

  26. VaRedsFan

    Brilliant stuff Luis! 11 in a row. Just crossed over 100 pitches.

  27. msanmoore

    Inconsistent zone again tody. Geno got hosed.

  28. bouwills

    Come on Reds gotta score on that weak Phils BP.

  29. VaRedsFan

    Peralta warming for the 9th. Not sure I’m ready to trust him yet.

    • VaRedsFan

      2 jam shot quackers for hits. Nothing Peralta did wrong there.

  30. Tom Mitsoff

    If it holds up, this would be the third shutout of the year by Reds pitching. Cubs and Royals were previous victims. (Cubs game was a rain-shortened win.)

  31. Jeff Reed

    Castillo is the Red’s ace in the making. We all need to have some patience with him. It took Cueto a while to get it together.

  32. Tom Mitsoff

    First four-game series win over the Phils since ’97! And another series win against a first-place team in this past few weeks.

  33. Show triple slash

    Looks like the Nats will be sellers. More RPs available on the market. Won’t be surprised to see no moves by the Reds, given what they might bring back.

  34. msanmoore

    Beginning to remember why baseball is so much fun to watch …

  35. docproctor

    Keep playing Ervin AND Williams!