Sometimes I forget how good Major League baseball players are at what they do. After spending hours fielding fly balls and grounders in high school, we would get to the game and still boot two or three plays in just such a horrendous fashion I’m sure our parents wondered if we actually practiced or just played home run derby for five hours after school each day.

Today, the Reds reminded me of my high school team. Missed cut offs, not covering the bag, baserunning TOOTBLANS along every inch of the paths. Any one would be excusable as a regular brain fart, but as the mental errors approached double digits, I wondered where exactly were these Jim Riggleman fundamentals?

Today, the Reds just looked fundamentally bad.

Cincinnati Reds 4 | Detroit Tigers 7 | My Amusement Level 3/10

Fangraphs WPA || Box Score || An Interesting Video about Netflix


— Sal Romano, despite the loss and 4 ER, had a nice day at the ballpark. Jose Iglesias’ double in the 2nd was a nasty piece of luck, as Romano jammed him on an inside fastball but the resulting grounder took a high hop over the third base bag. Eugenio Suarez did Romano no favors by slinging the cutoff throw wide and allowing the second run to score easily and the runner to move to third with one out. Romano worked out of that particular jam though.

The thing I noticed most about Sal today is that he has a really nice curveball. It’s not a standout pitch, but it has strong 12-6 break, and when Romano keeps it down, drops straight from the bottom third of the zone to the dirt. However, Romano has a tendency to hang it, and boy is it hittable. Just ask Tigers’ first baseman Jim Adduci, who took a hung curve way back in the 4th.

— Preston Tucker had a tough first at-bat to his Reds career. He ripped the first pitch long down the first base line, but it just hooked foul. Then, he smoked a liner but right at the second baseman, who then doubled off Phil Ervin at first to end the inning.

It all worked out for Tucker though as he singled in the first run in the 7th.

— The Reds 7th inning started with six consecutive hits, bringing in four runs and making this whole ordeal a bit more interesting. The good vibes didn’t last.


— Missed cutoffs: Suarez’ second inning throw went wide left; Phil Ervin slung the ball right over Scooter Gennett’s head allowing a run in the 6th.

— TOOTBLANs: Curt Casali tried to take home after a Jose Peraza swining bunt in the 7th and was promptly gunned down for a rally-killing double play. In other not-too-quick-Reds news, Joey Votto was forced out at second in the eighth following a Suarez bloop single. It wasn’t so much a TOOTBLAN as Votto is just very, very slow, but still it looked bad.

— It didn’t amount to anything, but Scooter and Peraza forgot to cover second base on a Victor Reyes steal in the fourth. Jim Riggleman did not seem pleased in the dugout.

— When the Reds pulled Sal Romano, they had one out in the sixth. By the time the Reds had one out in the seventh, they were using their FOURTH reliever. Wandy Peralta, Michael Lorenzen, and Amir Garrett all had less than stellar days.

— Phil Ervin has not had a great time here in the Motor City. Maybe it’s just the nerves that come with starting for a MLB team, but boy does he need to figure it out.


— I liked the decision to send Romano out in the 6th even though it was his third time through the order. He had just breezed through the 5th and wasn’t too up there with pitches. Riggleman obviously gave him the quick hook once he allowed a baserunner, but not a bad decision at all.

— Remember our old friend Rosell Herrera? Well Rany Jazayerli has some nice things to say about him over at The Athletic:

“Herrera is probably never going to hit enough to be an everyday player, but if he can show some defensive chops on the infield as well as the outfield, well, a switch-hitter who can play seven positions and run well doesn’t have to hit much to carve out a nice career as a utility guy.”

Seems like a guy the Reds could’ve found a use for if they really wanted to.

— Curt Casali has been such a welcome addition to this team. His 2-RBI double in the 7th once again showed that he’s a guy who can hit Major League pitching while calling a good game from behind the dish. Savvy move by the Reds FO.

— The Reds go to Washington next to play the Nationals who are somehow a completely dysfunctional team but still winning games 25-4? Riddle me that.

77 Responses

  1. Nc jim

    Are we now living in a universe in which a person is named Preston Tucker?

    • Still a Red

      Someone needs to get him a bigger helmet.

  2. Scott C

    Everyone has talked about the starting pitching as being THE issue that keeps the Reds from being a winning team, but in my opinion the mental and physical mistakes they make are just as big a factor. You could very easily point to enough silly mistakes overbite past two games that have cost us the games. Not the starting pitching but just stupid mistakes. You can blame the players or you can blame the coaching staff. Probably both are to blame.

  3. dougschloemer

    Silver lining? Reds are now just 1.5 games ahead of Tigers in Draft order….

  4. WVRedlegs

    I listened to a little on the radio, and Marty was heaping praise on to Riggleman about “accountability” after Peraza and Gennett didn’t cover 2nd base on that steal. Marty said Riggleman got both in the dugout after that inning and talked to them the whole time they were away for commercials.
    Don’t exactly know where Marty stands on fundamentals. But this team has exceedingly lacked proper fundamentals since the day Riggleman took over. They went from not so good to exceedingly bad in a short amount of time under Riggleman.
    A very tough schedule in August is going to doom any hopes of Riggleman getting the manager’s job permanently. Marty’s lobbying, and the Cincy media too, for Riggleman to get the managers job will be a moot point.
    I might add one thing to the bad column, Wandy Peralta is back to being the Wandy Peralta of 2018, not 2017. One batter, one hit and hit the showers. Lorenzen wasn’t much better and Garrett was horrible, again. Hernandez did a nice job a cleaning up the mess, but then gave up a meaningless run in the 8th.
    A 4 game meat grinder awaits the Reds in The Swamp in Washington. Looking forward to the games Castillo and Harvey will pitch in that series. Not looking forward to the ones DeSclafani and Mahle will start. Some grizzly carnage could ensue.

    • Colorado Red

      washington just DFA’d Shawn Kelley.
      3.34 ERA, WHIP .949
      Looks like a pickup, then DFA Wanda.
      PUt Shawn Kelley through waivers, and make a trade.

    • Jeff Reed

      I hope you’re right that Riggleman will not get the manager’s job without the interim attached. But with the principal owner making the call, we could be surprised.

    • greenmtred

      To be fair, some of the blunders have been made by players who weren’t here before Riggleman. Disconcerting anyway you look at it, though.

    • Matt WI

      WV, I’m pretty sure we know where Marty stands on fundamentals 😉

  5. TomN

    I thought the games against the Indians, Cubs, Cards and Phillies were going to be meat grinders. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Hopefully the Reds can wake up and rise to the occasion again. And hopefully Schebler is back much sooner than later. They need his bat in the top of the order. Just too bad Winker is out for the year.

  6. TomN

    And sure would be nice to give Bob Steve a chance once more. Damn. He must have pissed on Riggleman’s couch at some point or something. Either give Mahle a break or put BobS in the BP. He needs another shot.

    • VaRedsFan

      Riggleman has nothing to do with Bob Steve not being in Cincy

  7. doofus

    “Reds lose game, forget how to play sport.” Enough said.

  8. Seat101

    I just don’t understand not covering second.Any idea who is supposed to have cover second?

    • Colorado Red

      cannot do that
      Physical errors happen, but not mental ones.

    • Broseph

      Generally, it’s the player opposite the batter.
      Second base covers right handers, short stop covers lefties.

      It was a righty at bat so should’ve been Scooter unless Reds have intel that the batter is primarily an opposite field hitter which is doubtful.

      • Mike C

        FWIW Suarez appeared to reply to Riggleman that it was his cover when asked in the dugout. Either way they were both late and out of position.

    • Indy Red Man

      Normally the infielder on the pull side stays home while the other guy covers the bag. Last week a Pirate stole 2nd with a RH hitter and nobody covered. THey said later that Peraza was supposed to cover because the guy hit the other way more often. You could tell because Scooter never budged and Peraza went over at the last second. Not to blame it all on Peraza though….Ervin didn’t have his head in these 2 games. Votto. Suarez. Its almost everyone with this team. Dog days maybe? I hope they could be more alert if they were in the playoff hunt?

  9. DCJ

    Interesting how certain members of the Cincinnati media push that Riggleman is the reason the Reds win when they play well but when this happens they say nothing. Either he affects the way they play or he doesn’t. Can’t have it one way when they play well and the other when they play poorly.

    • DCJ

      Also! I have been a longtime reader but have never commented before. Redleg Nation is the best! Keep up the great work, I always look forward to game previews and recaps.

    • greenmtred

      The opposite is true, as well, at least here: When they play well and win, it has nothing to do with him. When they lose, it’s his fault.

      • Wesley Jenkins

        Welcome to Redleg Nation: The contrarians of Reds Country 🙂

  10. sezwhom

    Funny how many took Duvall’s defense for granted. Remind me how Ervin did in this series?

    • Dewey Roberts

      I agree. Before Duvall the Reds struggled for stability in LF. Now we are back thee again.

      • Bill

        Winker is the LF for the next few years. Ervin is a back up. Winker will never be accused of being a gold glove caliber, and Duvall defense will be missed, but LF won’t be an issue. If Winker can’t handle it there are multiple other options, Gennett, Winker, Herrera, plus Trammell, Siri, Friedl as potential options in the future

      • Jim Walker

        Winker may be a starting corner outfielder; or, Ervin or somebody else may displace him. It needs to be based on performance not just who was there first.

        But first things first, Winker needs to get recovered from his shoulder issue which apparently turned out to be a torn labrum. So hardly a minor nick. Let’s just hope for a quick and complete recovery with some of his lost power potential restored then go from there.

      • Bill

        Winker has earned it. His shoulder injury will most likely impact his performance next year, but there is no way Ervin has done anything to prove he deserves it over Winker. Winker took the spot from Duvall based on performance. If it was who was there first, Duvall wouldn’t be wearing a Braves uniform

      • Jim Walker

        My point was nobody, personalities aside should “own” a position. They only fill it till somebody else comes down the road who better fits the team’s need at that spot. The Reds need to avoid the mindset of we’ve got Jack, or Jesse, or Adam or Phil etc for that which limits their strategic thinking. And why would it be so surprising if indeed Phil Ervin unseated Winker given a shot? He was after all chosen 22 overall picks higher in his draft class than Winker in his.

      • roger garrett

        I agree Jim 100%.It should always be about performance.So tired off this unwritten rule about well we have this guy or that guy and he has a 4 year or a 6 year deal and he is blocking such and such.The best players should play period.The Cards parted ways with the great Albert and continue to move players at will if they don’t perform or can get a bundle for them.They just traded Pham which I would take in a heart beat but they got 3 very very good young players

      • Dewey Roberts

        I agree about competition and the best player wins. But defense is also important. The Reds lose a lot of games on defense—like yesterday.

    • Indy Red Man

      Nobody and I mean nobody defended Duvall on here like me his first 2 years as a Reds, BUT Ervin had 4 hits in the last 2 games. It took Adam a week to get 4 hits and thats if he’s running good! Ervin should improve if he pays attention and listens to his coaches. I don’t think Adam is going to become a better hitter anytime soon.

      • Jim Walker

        Winker got some help, did some work and managed for the most part to shed his clown’s suit on defense and the base paths. Ervin looks to have much better raw tools in those areas; so, hopefully the same will happen with him.

    • Jim Walker

      He got 4 hits (2 doubles) scored a couple of runs, made a couple of base running mistakes (one very costly), did not make the bad play the TV team originally called him out for Tuesday but made a very poor and even lackadaisical throw today which cost them a run.

      We know from experiences with guys like BHam that you can’t teach a guy to hit if he doesn’t have the skills. But why in the world aren’t guys like Ervin who apparently can hit and Winker who’ve seen enough of to know for sure can hit being taught in the minors where to throw the ball and how to run the bases?!?

      • Jim Walker

        And I made an error myself above. Ervin’s 2 extra base hits in the series were a double and a triple, not 2 doubles.

      • greenmtred

        Jim: I really doubt that hitting can’t be taught. If that were true, all hitters would be “who they are” from day one, which clearly they’re not. They learn. Learning implies teaching, to some extent. Some people are more teachable than others, for sure, and some lack a fundamental ingredient of hitting, like good eyesight or hand-to-eye-coordination, but even Billy is surely abetter hitter than he was in his first at-bat.

      • Jim Walker

        I can agree you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The hand/ eye and quick twitch response and control are there or not. And if reports are to believed in BHam’s case apparently they’ve tried to muscle him up some and that didn’t work for his body type either.

        So we probably agree that you can only do a limited amount based on the tool floor and ceiling of a guy versus flat out being able to do nothing.

  11. Seat101

    It’s early days yet.

  12. Indy Red Man

    Sal Romano, despite the loss and 4 ER, had a nice day at the ballpark

    No….tired of hearing that after Romano’s starts. Bill Parcells said it best “You are what your record says you are”. Period! Romano is a mediocre to bad pitcher with a 5.12 era. He also has a career 4.31 in the minors with a 1.41 and .278 batting average allowed.

    If Harvey leaves then he’s 7th behind the other current 4 and BobSteve and Sims. I expect Mahle to get destroyed tomorrow night. They need to make up some injury and DL him to limit his innings and give him a chance to regroup. Romano needs to go back to AAA. Bob Steve and Sims then take over.
    Sims with two 7ip, 2hit, 0 er starts at AAA in July. Thats all I need to know to see that hes better then Romano. Not sure why he gets so much slack?

    • Jim Walker

      Thinking much the same. When guys at AAA are knocking loudly at the door, at some point it ceases to be a matter of gradual improvement/ long term ceiling and becomes an issue of current competence. That’s where Romano and Mahle are; and, Castillo is still only slightly ahead of being in the same boat with them.

      The next really good Reds team is not going to be populated by 3 or 4 SP who average 5.1/5.2 IP per start. It is time to make longevity a major point in evaluating the candidates.

    • Reaganspad

      Or send him to AAA to work on things and stop his service clock

    • Wesley Jenkins

      Well two of the runs attributed to Sal were kind of BS is what I was saying there. The second run should not have scored on that double, and the run Wandy gave up was just not Sal’s fault even if the scoreline says it was.

  13. bouwills

    Somebody at this site the other day said that Ervin was as good a LF as Adam Duvall. They need to take that statement back. Ervin looks more like Dunn than Duvall in left field.

    • greenmtred

      I’m a Duvall fan, but I’m not ready to close the book on Ervin after a few games.

  14. Shchi Cossack

    DW’s proclamation in defense of the Reds handling of Stephenson was based on the Reds having ample information because Stephenson had pitched 120 innings at the MLB level. What DW carefully omitted was that 24 of those innings were bullpen appearances over a span of 2 months in April and May of 2017. DW also carefully omitted that 60 of those innings were starts during the 2nd half of 2017 with a 3.30 ERA. DW also carefully omitted that 12 of those innings were starts during April 2016 with a 3.00 ERA. The remaining 25 innings were after the September roster expansion in 2016. The most consecutive starts afforded Stephenson at the MLB level totalled 60 innings and produced good results.

    Comparatively, Romano has been afforded 79 consecutive innings in the 2nd half of 2017 with a 4.44 ERA and 113 consecutive innings during the 2018 season with a 5.23 ERA, Mahle has been afforded 20.0 consecutive innings in the 2nd half of 2017 with a 2.70 ERA and 107 consecutive innings during 2018 with a 4.53 ERA and Castillo has been afforded 89 consecutive innings in the 2nd half of 2017 with a 3.12 ERA and 115 consecutive innings during 2018 with a 4.98 ERA.

    Even with inconsistent, sporadic opportunities at the MLB level, Stephenson has averaged a 60.5% strike rate with 8.65 SO/9, 1.55 HR/9 & 1.59 WHIP. With consistent, consecutive opportunities at the MLB level, Romano has averaged a 62.8% strike rate with 6.87 SO/9, 1.33 HR/9 & 1.44 WHIP. With consistent , consecutive opportunities at the MLB level, Mahle has averaged a 64.0% strike rate with 8.34 SO/9, 1.48 HR/9 & 1.52 WHIP. With consistent, consecutive opportunities at the MLB level, Castillo has averaged a 64.0% strike rate with 9.13 SO/9, 1.32 HR/9 and 1.21 WHIP.

    Only Castillo has arguably outperformed Stephenson, yet Stephenson is the only one of the four prospects singled out for limiting his MLB opportunities. The notion that the Reds have a ‘plan’ for Stephenson and the statement that Stephenson ‘will’ pitch at the MLB level this season are unsupported and contradicted by actions. Starting Stephenson for a limited number of opportunities after rosters are again expanded does not come close to a real opportunity, just window dressing and the only ‘plan’ appears to involve allowing Stephenson’s options to expire and then simply proclaim that Stephenson never ‘seized’ the opportunities he was given. We can all speculate about reasons, but there is definitely a negative double standard the Reds have applied to Stephenson’s opportunities, compared to other starting pitching prospects.

    • Jim Walker

      Amen Cossack. Reds say they want an ace or at least a solid 2+. Stephenson, the guy in their whole stable who has the stuff, whiff and K rates to suggest this potential they won’t give the ball to and get out of his way to see what happens.

      If finding and developing an ace wasn’t a high risk/ high reward proposition, everybody would have several.

      Barring injury, Stephenson will eventually be at the least an MLB average starter for somebody. With each day that passes I think there is less and less chance it will be for the Reds.

    • WVRedlegs

      Yes sirree. I was very unimpressed with Dick Williams on that answer. I called it double speak in the game thread. Thank you for spelling out the double speak. I would imagine there was a plan on what Stephenson needed to work on, but I doubt there was much of a plan to get him up to the Reds. Maybe one of the crack media contingent will actually ask Williams what exactly is their plan. Stephenson has seemed to have done his part.

      • Jim Walker

        Guessing nobody believed RS would perform to the level he has this year at AAA.

        Obviously in 11 starts last year he was a borderline league average starter which Romano was not in 18 or however many starts he got in 2017. Yet while Homer and Castillo got free passes to “get in their spring work” on the minor league back 40, RS was thrown into a competition he was probably meant to (and did) lose. Then he went down to Louisville and threw a wrench into things by pitching lights out.

      • RedInIND

        Cossack, VA, WV, and Jim: Excellent comments, all. I think it was during Sunday’s game that Thom and Chris got into a short discussion about those wanting to see Stephenson brought up. Both of their trains of thought centered around how the Reds had given him opportunities time and time and time again and all he did was fail and fail and fail. I’d love to rub their noses in Cossack’s post.

    • Matt WI

      Great post on Stephenson. I’m wondering if this doesn’t illuminate some of the failure of “soft skills” on both sides of the divide (player and management). Stephenson’s early performance and behaviors, right or wrong, created a narrative of a guy too stubborn for his own good.

      He may be suffering a bad case of being in the dog house in general, with mgmt being less inclined to demonstrate flexibility and new chances because of personality clashes. If true, shame on management for not having the leadership capability to work on developing their guy and having the emotional IQ to make things successful for everyone. It appears Stephenson has gone to work on his directives, and management should either give him a chance to be successful or ship him out if there is a grudge that’s going to continue to be held.

      Pure speculation to all of this, I know we don’t know a lot of the inner dynamics. Just reading from the tea leaves of the comments and reactions of broadcasters and management.

  15. Shchi Cossack

    I’m not sure where the narrative that Ervin was a good defensive OF became gospel, but it has never been supported by his on-field performance as a professional. When Ervin was drafted, his reputation was a good defensive OF with speed to play CF. It appears that a lot of fans latched onto that initial reputation and refuse to let it go. Ervin’s performance since he was drafted completely refutes that reputation. Ervin should be a good defensive OF. He certainly has the ‘tools’ to be a good defensive OF, but he is not a good defensive OF. His recent defensive performance at the MLB level is not an outlier.

    With Winker out for the season and Schebler on the DL, Ervin needs playing time to demonstrate if his bat will play at the MLB level, but his defense will always be an issue. Right now, Ervin is competing with Dixon and Tucker for a role on the 25-man roster next spring. Quite frankly, Herrera should be included in that group to determine if his bat will play at the MLB level, but Herrera is not competing with Ervin, Dixon and Tucker, just splitting playing time to prove his ability to hit MLB pitching.

    • Jim Walker

      Ervin has the advantage of being the only true OF who is a RH hitter. Let’s hope he grabs it and runs (in the right direction at the right time) with it.

      I think it ism likely between the 2 LH hitters, Tucker and Williams for the last OF spot when Schebler returns.

    • Still a Red

      What about Williams? He seems to be performing pretty well. Also, its possible Ervin could improve defensively.

      • Jim Walker

        One of my takeaways from watching Williams and Ervin play (offensively) the last week is that the Reds shouldn’t be too quick to lock in on any specific persons in the OF because here are two guys up from AAA both younger than Schebler (Williams 11 months; Ervin 21 months) who look like given the exposure might be as good or better than he is.

        Then of course Ervin had the series from hades on the bases and with his throwing but still. But Williams has yet to expose any fundamental weaknesses.

        Still hopefully they and Preston Tucker can get a lot of PT over the next 2 months to help the Reds make informed decisions in the off season.

  16. Sliotar


    Starting with Indy’s rant about Romano to here….kudos to all who posted. Top notch discussion on BobSteve.

    Shchi’s point is well taken that it sure feels there is a lot more to the BobSteve story.

    And, Romano…dunno. Maybe he has champions in the organization that are already sold on him, but if Sims’ 10Ks per 9 in AAA comes close to translating to the MLB level, I think few would care if Romano is replaced in rotation.

  17. Rich H

    I don’t necessarily disagree with Cossack and Walker, but I feel like something very important needs to be pointed out in regards to the Stephenson/Castillo/Mahle/Romano comparisons being made.
    Starts there, ends there.
    I agree that Robert Stephenson has nastier stuff than any of the other pitchers mentioned, excepting perhaps Castillo. I agree that he has been pitching mostly lights out in Louisville for several months. I agree he is VERY hopefully part of the Reds future rotation. But this is the argument as to why he should’ve been in AAA most of this year:

    2017 MLB Stats

    Sal Romano: 87 IP, 37 W

    Luis Castillo: 89.1 IP, 32 W

    Tyler Mahle: 20 IP, 11 W
    (Minors, 144 IP, 30 W)

    Robert Stephenson: 84.2 IP, 53 W

    The *one* thing a promising pitcher should be in AAA for after dominating the minors with his stuff is command/control/walks. Everything else that particularly Mahle and Castillo are working on can only be accomplished at the major league level, they conan their pitches and ruin minor leaguers with them. There’s a good argument Romano should be down there working on another pitch, that’s a good thing to do at AAA. But a *better* thing to work on there is commanding the pitches you already have. And Robert Stephenson has been getting better at that for large stretches of this year (excepting his most recent start), but let’s be honest: his stuff will play at the MLB level. He doesn’t reasy need to find out what his stuff plays like in the bigs. What won’t play (because NO successful starting pitcher does it) is a 5.7W/9IP rate.

    Sorry for the long post, figured the serious and insightful guys (and I sincerely mean that Jim and Cossack) will power through it.

    • Jim Walker

      Here is my take on Stephenson and walks. Last year in his 11 start MLB trial at the end of the season despite having a walk rate of 14% he had an ERA of 3.30 and a FIP of 4.22. That ERA is well better than league average. The FIP right at league average (actually around 4% better). He got away with the walks because his K rate was 22.5% and his HR/9 was 0.75 (think about that. A guy pitching with GABP as his home park and a HR/9 less than 1) .

      So would the roof have fallen in over his next x number of starts? We don’t know because they won’t give him the ball and find out.

      What he has done at AAA in the last two months was approaching other worldly until he had that BB blip last time out. Even counting his latest start, since June his K rate is 28% and BB rate is 10.8. HR/9 is 0.84. His WHIP is 1.11. Batting average against .190. For that game where he walked 5, he allowed only 1 hit, a solo HR, and had an in game WHIP of .86.

      There is truly nothing more for him to learn or do at AAA. The only question is how close can he come to matching this performance versus MLB hitters with MLB umps.

      • Rich H

        I understand your point, but if nobody successful has a BB/9 that high, what are we trying to find out here? Robert Stephenson might be good, but he’s not good enough to be anything more than a back of the rotation, maybe mid rotation guy with that walk rate. Nobody really is. And if the only thing holding back a guy with top-of-the rotation stuff is his command, why not let him figure it out for an extra month or two at a level he’s not going to be scrutinized? Are 4-6 MLB starts really going to improve him more than better command would? He wasn’t knocking down the door before a month ago, and the deadline just passed. I just don’t see anything wrong with the Reds having kept him down there this season, and although I hope he’s up soon, I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. Yet. Guess we’ll see what the next 2-3 weeks bear out.

      • Jim Walker

        I think BBs carry the same sort of psychological stigma in regards to pitchers as K’s to batters. In the end, from the pitcher’s point of view, a BB is no worse than a single and in some cases better than a single because a BB only advances an existing runner 1 base and never 2.

        If a pitcher has a low WHIP, BA against and HR rate and a very high K rate and reasonable FIP, he is going to succeed regardless of BBs because BBs are accounted for in the WHIP (and FIP).

        So, yes, fewer BBs are always a goal; but some guys can support a higher BB rate and be more successful than many pitchers with lower BB rates if they miss more bats and give up fewer hits, especially HRs.

        Nolan Ryan for example had a career BB rate >12% but offset it with a K rate >25% to go along with an HR/9 of 0.54. I’m not for a minute suggesting RS has the top end to become a Ryan; but, if RS gets his BB rate down to around 10%, he is likely to match or even supersede Ryans’s K%-BB% differential; and, if he keeps his HR/9 around 1 or lower, there you have an entire package for above average success.

      • WVRedlegs

        I think you just about nailed it on Stephenson.
        FWIW, he has 19 starts on the season. In his last 10 starts since 05/31/2018 he is 6-2, 58.1 IP, 39 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 5 HR, 27 BB, 66 K. BB’s can still be an issue as he has 4 games with 4+ BB’s in the last 10. Only 2 games he has give up 3+ runs in the last 10. He has gone 7.0 IP in each of his last 3 games. If Mahle lays another egg in his next start, it should be time to switch these two out. Stephenson up and Mahle down. Hope that won’t interfere with Dick Williams’s plan for Stephenson. Whatever that might be.
        Stephenson’s game log for 2018 on Fangraphs is an interesting read.

      • Jim Walker

        I went to and dredged up the game log for his last start, the one with the 5 BBs. He walked 1 guy in each of the first 3 innings. The BB in the 3rd burned him because the next guy hit a HR, the only hit he would allow all day. From that point he sat down 12 straight batters to get to 1 out in the 7th. Then he walked 2 of the next 3 but then got out of the inning unscathed.
        The game was tied at 2 when he worked from the 4th through 7th inning on the 12 consecutive out streak. That’s some high leverage pitching.

      • CP

        There are only three starting pitchers in the top 50 by fWAR with a 4+ BB/9. I think if the Reds thought he was a guy like Gio Gonzales who hovered between 3.50 and 4.50 BB/9 every year, they might be able to live with it.

        The problem with Stephenson is that he still looks a guy that could hover between 4.50 and 5.50 BB/9. Guys like Stephenson are why statistics like FIP and xFIP were created. And I disagree with your opinion that giving up walks is a stigma. If non-outs are good from a batter perspective, they’re bad from a pitcher perspective. Sure, not all walks are equal, but if Robert Stephenson can’t control his pitchers in AAA, he isn’t going to do it any better versus better, more selective MLB hitters.

        I don’t like to compare any player to aberrations like Nolan Ryan. One, it is unfair to the player. Two, there is a pretty good chance Nolan Ryan can’t perform like he did in modern baseball.

      • Jim Walker

        A walk is never worse than a single. That doesn’t mean it is a good thing; but it is how an individual walk impacts the game situation. By themselves 5 walks are no worse than 5 singles. If a pitcher gives up fewer hits, especially extra base hits, he can allow more walks without necessarily allowing more runs.

        Last year as an MLB starter RS allowed 5.55BB/9 yet pitched to an ERA of 3,.30. which was approaching 25% netter than league average. That happened.; it is real.

        Switch the stat to FIP where the walks are weighed for normal damage; and, and he goes up to 4.22 which was a FIP 4% better than league average.

      • Bill

        Personally, I think the walks will prevent him from being a top of the rotation guy, but if he can throw 7 no hitters and strike out over 5,700 I would be extremely happy

      • Rich H

        Stephenson himself has said essentially the same thing in regards to BB/K ratio, or overall WHIP. Which could be part of the reason he’s still down there. And I feel the same way, generally speaking. Adam Dunn’s career OBP was .380 for the Reds, which I care about more than his K ratio. But almost no MLB pitcher carries a walk rate that high and enjoys high levels success. As you pointed out, RS isn’t Nolan Ryan, not really anybody is. And if the only thing holding him back is control, he can work on that just as effectively at AAA as opposed to MLB. That’s my main point, and why I think the Reds were right to keep him down until now.

        I’m ready glad he’s been pitching well for the last two months, but as evidenced by the first two months of this year, where he had a BB/9 of 5.5, a WHIP around 1.4, and an ERA near 4 in Louisville, that many walks caps your effectiveness. If you’re starting off with a .6+ WHIP before a single hit allowed, things can get real ugly, real quick. And given his career 5.1 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 121.2 IP at MLB, he’s not immune to that either. Ariel Hernandez had fantastic stuff, Tanner Rainey is unhittable at times (RP vs SP, I know) but their walks killed them at the big league level. That’s what’s killed Stephenson in the bigs. I hope they give Mahle a rest and/or Romano goes down to learn a new pitch, and Harvey goes on a waiver trade and Stephenson comes up and stays up. But I don’t think the Reds are foolish enough to let BobSteve go for nothing next year, and keeping him down to iron out mechanics and control issues is a legitimate reason to be in Louisville til the deadline. Not necessarily an organizational bias. And we can cherry pick successive strings of starts, or months, or whatever else, but given those MLB numbers (100/121 innings as a SP) and Stephenson’s lack of intent or ability to consistently improve the one thing they asked him to improve over the past two years (barring perhaps these last 2 months) says that keeping him down might have been the right call anyway.

      • big5ed

        I agree that there is now nothing more for Stephenson to learn at AAA. But that wasn’t true until a few weeks ago, because he’s used the year at AAA to iron out his problems. The point of AAA baseball is to do just that.

        If he had taken Romano’s spot in the rotation this year, then he would have been eligible for free agency in 2023 instead of 2024. The Reds, then, used AAA to gain a potential All-Star season from Stephenson in 2023 at the expense of a struggling 2018, which I think is the right move. The idea that management has it in for Stephenson is, in my view, silly.

        Romano does not have Stephenson’s upside, and he needs another pitch. But I think he has a lot of sack, and can develop into a solid innings-eater, or maybe a good set-up man. If anything, the difference in these two guys’ ceilings explains why they have given Romano more MLB time this year – because they want to preserve Stephenson’s “ceiling” years, which they anticipate being worth more than Romano’s ceiling years.

    • Rich H

      Also sorry for using W instead of BB lol. Few too many beers.

  18. Rich H

    Sorry for the autocorrects, should be “command” and “really” in the obvious places.

    • Jim Walker

      Auto correct is changing the world. I write my longer comments on a Win10 device and it has even invaded that world recently. Just give me the red or blue line under something which seems non standard and let me decide. 🙂

  19. roger garrett

    Bob has 19 starts in the big leagues.That number alone tells the story in that he wasn’t given even the smallest of chances and I believe of those 19 he had 11 at the end of 2017 when he performed better then league average.Its more then the walks of course but nobody wants to man up to what it really is that has caused him to be thrown under the bus,run over and forgot about.Just another in a long list of inconsistent handling of players on this team.We could look back over the last 4 or 5 years and talk for days about players performance on the field and ask why they weren’t given more of a chance or why did it or why has it taken so many games and so many at bats or so many starts to part ways with them.In some cases the players are still here and still performing lousy.Long comment I know but Bob will start some games but more then likely it will be for somebody else.

  20. jreis

    I am starting to loose my faith in Ervin. And I had real high hopes for him this year. could have been a right handed version of Griffey Sr. His mind just doesn’t seem to be in the game. I Say give him another series in Washington and if he keeps messing up we give up on him. let Dixon play out in left the rest of the year. at least the guy tries.

    • Indy Red Man

      2 games? Cmon? I once saw Adam Dunn get turned around and throw the ball from the leftfield warning track to the centerfield warning track:) He was just running around out there without a plan, but guys going 2-4 get more chances!

      • jreis

        ok maybe give him the mets series too lol

      • roger garrett

        Your right and he will but 5 years worth of games and at bats really is well a long time.