The Reds play game two of a four-game road set against the Washington Nationals today at 1:05 Eastern time at Nationals Park. It’s the first half of a day-night doubleheader prompted by Friday night’s rainout. The Reds hope to break a three-game losing streak that has come on the heels of three straight wins against the first-place Phillies. Speaking of losing streaks, the Reds have lost 12 straight to the Nats and 14 of the last 15 dating back to the 2016 season. (CORRECTION: The Reds had lost eight straight and 13 of 15 dating back to 2016.)

Meanwhile at Class AAA Louisville, a very interesting story is unfolding.

Robert Stephenson in April 2016 start

Stephenson has been touted as a top pitching prospect for literally years after being selected in the first round in 2011. Once he reached Louisville, he was generally mediocre, due primarily to a lack of control. When he got his chances with the big-league team he also struggled mightily, with the exception of an impressive stretch of starts late last year.

He was criticized via the media by the Louisville manager in 2016:

“This is what we’ve been going through with this kid for the last three or four years,” DeShields said, referring to Stephenson’s control issues. “Until he makes an adjustment, it’s going to continue. It’s not going to get better. It’s on him. He’s been told what he needs to do and what he needs to work on by numerous coaches and staff members. It’s up to him to make those adjustments. If I was him, I’d be embarrassed.”

Maybe, as they say, Stephenson has “figured it out.” I have always been an advocate of the idea that positions on the big league roster should be earned. Stephenson had a chance in spring training this year to earn a spot in the starting rotation, but didn’t take advantage of it. Sal Romano outperformed him and won the roster spot. But to Stephenson’s credit, he went to Louisville and instead of sulking, he did what he needed to do.

Cody Reed

While Stephenson has been on a hot streak, so has one of his teammates who has also been disappointing to date in major league auditions. Since June 5, lefthander Cody Reed has pitched 64.2 innings while striking out 69 and walking only 14. In his last three starts, he has allowed three earned runs in 19.1 innings.

Many are wondering why one or both of these pitchers has not been promoted yet. Redleg Nation regular Shichi Cossack pointed this out in a comment yesterday:

Stephenson has 167 days of accumulated MLB service time. If Stephenson pitches at the MLB level at all during the 2018 season, he will exceed 1.0 years of service time, leaving just 5 seasons of team control after the 2018 season, making him a FA after the 2023 season. If Stephenson doesn’t pitch at the MLB level at all, including when rosters expand in September, then the Reds will maintain 6 seasons of team control after the 2018 season, making Stephenson a FA after the 2024 season. Stephenson will be out of options after the 2018 season and must stick on the 25-man roster or be lost on waivers. Interestingly, Cody Reed is in the same situation with 166 days of accumulated MLB service time.

Interesting indeed. However, it would be hard to imagine not seeing both Stephenson and Reed up with the big league team at some point this month or next. Their progress speaks to the benefit of patience, something the Reds have not been known for in developing pitchers. Luis Castillo was promoted from Class AA last year, skipping AAA altogether. I have always believed that promoting a minor league pitcher who has mediocre performance metrics in the minors and expecting him to pitch effectively in the majors is daft. If Stephenson and Reed continue their current performance trends in Louisville, it will be very interesting to see how that translates to the majors with the Reds. It would seem likely they would bring the confidence with them that perhaps was lacking before.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Anthony DeSclafani 52.2 5.47 4.28 21.3% 7.6%
Gio Gonzalez 114.1 3.78 4.31 20.7% 11.5%

Like Mahle, DeSclafani is in the midst of a streak of subpar starts. In his last three starts, DeSclafani has pitched 12 innings and surrendered 12 earned runs. The streak almost identically mirrors Mahle’s in terms of when it started. Hopefully, DeSclafani can break the trend that Mahle continued in Thursday’s game.

Gonzalez is having some struggles of his own. He’s lost five consecutive decisions, though that is primarily due to lack of run support from his teammates. He got the win in the second game of the year against the Reds, a 6-5 Nationals victory. This lefthander is a guy you can pretty much count on a quality start from each time out. It’s another tough challenge for the Reds tonight.

Bullpen

After an off-day due to Friday’s rainout, all members of the pen should be ready when called upon this evening. The one exception is Keury Mella, who pitched 4.1 innings in relief Thursday night.

Starting Lineups

Reds Nationals
SS Jose Peraza RF Adam Eaton
LF Phillip Ervin SS Trea Turner
1B Joey Votto 3B Anthony Rendon
3B Eugenio Suarez CF Bryce Harper
RF Brandon Dixon LF Juan Soto
C Curt Casali 2B Daniel Murphy
2B Dilson Herrera 1B Ryan Zimmerman
P Anthony DeSclafani C Matt Wieters
CF Billy Hamilton P Gio Gonzalez

The only change in either team’s lineup from last night’s posted lineups is Herrera starting at second base.

News and Notes

Minor league review and update …

Hunter Greene suffered his UCL sprain in a bullpen throwing session, according to General Manager Nick Krall …

68 Responses

  1. J

    The “service time” rule is one of MLB’s many self-inflicted wounds. What a stupid reason for young major league caliber players to remain in the minors.

    • Bill

      It is definitely an advantage to the owners and potentially takes away money from a small group of players. Since it affects so few people I am not sure it is something that will easily be changed. I don’t know what the alternative would be, short of giving a set number of years after the player signs their first contract, which doesn’t seem like something owners would ever agree to.

      • J

        I’m not quite following your point. The fact that it affects so few people should make it easier to change, not harder. And why wouldn’t the owners agree to a rule that says every player is under team control for X seasons after being drafted, which could be adjusted based on the player’s age when he’s drafted? Why is that worse for the owners than having to worry about this stupid service time issue?

  2. Bill j

    One other change, Votto was batting 2nd last night.

  3. WVRedlegs

    Was there a sighting of Robert Stephenson in the Reds hotel lobby this morning?
    If not, maybe in NY in a few days.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      I don’t think Stephenson (or Reed) comes up unless one of the current 5 starters is traded, injured, or demoted.

  4. Scott Gennett

    When is Schebler coming back? Peraza has struggled mightly leading-off, I’d rather have Williams or Ervin there.

  5. seat101

    Have the Reds brought up a pitcher from Louisville for the doubleheader?

    • Old-school

      John fay tweeted Austin Brice is 26th player for game 2.

      • seat101

        Thank you. I’m worried that we won’t have anybody left for tomorrow’s game the way our pitching has been going

    • Jim Walker

      With the early cancellation of yesterday’s game in this era of cell phones and air travel, it would have offered the perfect chance to wave off Stephenson’s appearance at AAA last night and fly him in to start a game today!

  6. Jim Walker

    RS will be 25 years 7 months or thereabouts at the end of the 2018 MLB season; Reed is just a couple of months younger. Heaven help the Reds FO if they are looking to add the “extra” year of control to a power pitcher at that age.

    Especially when the Reds are talking about spending big bucks and/ or talent on pitching in the off season, they should be more interested in seeing how the latest version of RS and Reed play at the big league level.

    The team has already painted itself into a corner where both these players project as almost certain super 2 arb guys if they stick in MLB. If they are called up by the end of the first week of Sept. they project as borderline super 2 at the end of next season, if not, after the 2020 or 2021 season depending whether or not they would be called up later this Sept. At the service times they are at, it is just a matter of when not if they become super 2 assuming they stick at the MLB level.

    • roger garrett

      I agree Jim.Service time of 5 years vs 6 to me is reserved for can’t miss superstars.Bryant for the Cubs comes to mind but I hear that so much as a reason for waiting to bring up a guy.Unless you have all of the money you can only keep so many core guys anyway from year to year and that is defined by their talent and their contract.

      • Jim Walker

        If RS was doing what he is doing at age 22/23 at AAA, the extra year ploy might make sense; but now that he has thrown those extra 3 years of innings, regardless of level, that’s wear and tear that history tells us will bite him at some point probably no later that 30-32, al la Bailey and now Cueto just to name 2.

    • Scott C

      I agree. Service time should not be a consideration at all. If they come on strong for two years they could possibly buy out a couple years past their arbitration years. To me it is a no brainer to get them up and see what they can do.

  7. Joel

    Herrera is starting. I guess the rebuild is complete. Phew.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Yup, except in pregame comments Riggleman said he didn’t expect Scooter to get any more games off the rest of the season. 🤦🏼‍♂️

  8. Old-school

    Peraza picked off. Yet another mental error by him. Gonzalez not sharp at all. Gotta get the good ones early with a crooked number. Lost opportunity that doesnt show up on the status of sheet.

    • seat101

      He wasn’t kicked off. He made a mistake, yes. He misread the pitcher. I think we can safely say that if you are attempting to steal your “head is in the game”.

      • roger garrett

        Good point maybe he doesn’t need a day off.

  9. roger garrett

    Peraza just needs some time off to get his brain working again.It happens and no reason at all not to give it to him.

  10. docproctor

    Somebody asked about Schebler. Looks like we won’t see him soon, according to John Fay:

    Scott Schebler (right shoulder sprain) has been returned from rehab with Triple-A Louisville.
    Schebler had been with Louisville for seven days, but he only played one game in the outfield.
    “Throwing in games is not what it needs to be.” general manager Nick Krall said.
    Schebler will be shut down from throwing for seven days and then be re-evaluated.

  11. Steelerfan

    That was a nice at bat by Peraza. More of that please…

  12. Steelerfan

    I know he has had a rough couple series in the field, but I am looking forward to seeing what Ervin can do with some consistent playing time. Small silver lining to the injuries.

  13. roger garrett

    Nice at bat by Ervin as well.

  14. seat101

    I am on a roll… I predicted that last nights game would not be postponed and I agreed that Jose Peraza needs a day off.

  15. Indy Red Man

    Bad news with Hunter Greene and Schebler. I don’t think Schebler is ever going to pan out? He’s always hurt. Good news is that Winker and Ervin can really hit! If they ever make a hole for Senzel then the offense could be really scary!

    • Old-school

      Schebler plays with intensity and runs into walls and so is injury prone. His greatest problem though is his stubborn refusal to admit he’s hurt and be honest with trainers.He did it last year and now did it this year. Clearly he’s afraid to give up his spot so he’s willing to do anything to stay in the game. That mentality is what fueled the PED epidemic.

      He’s a solid hitter though.

    • Jazzmanbbfan

      You could say the same about Winker always being hurt. His shoulder has been an issue for years. As Old School notes, Schebler plays hard. I’m not so sure I agree that this yesr he hasn’t been honest with the trainers. Riggleman said pre-game that Schebler made the call to hold up the rehab window because his shoulder wasn’t coming around.

      • Old-school

        Yes. I don’t know that. It just seems for 2 weeks everyone says he can’t throw. I don’t understand why you continue to play if you ran into a wall and got hurt and can’t throw. Monday morning QB.
        Schebler plays hard and is a good player.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        I like Schebler, especially how hard he hits the ball. Hopefully he finds fewer walls to run into in the future.

  16. Steelerfan

    So torn on Peraza. Days like this (although Gonzalez clearly does not have his best stuff) it feels like he can do just enough with the bat to make a slightly plus player overall? Being out of market, I just don’t feel like I see him enough to have a sense of whether the overall package works.

  17. SF Reds Fan

    Nothing better than getting into the pen in the 4th inning when you have a doubleheader and another one tomorrow!!

  18. Indy Red Man

    One thing I will say for Riggleman….no way he would’ve let Gio pitch to Suarez there if he was the Nats manager. He would’ve probably yanked him at 4-1! Myself…I like the quick hook with these 12 man staffs and a couple of interchangeable guys at AAA.

  19. WVRedlegs

    I think the rainout benefited DeSclafani greatly today. Wet, damp, humid conditions on a dreary night to a bright, sunny, warm day. DeSclafani looks good. If he can go 7 or 8 innings today that helps the bullpen big time. Yesterday off and hopefully most get today off until tonight. A nice little break. With 2 games today and 1 tomorrow afternoon, that will be important.

  20. roger garrett

    The double play ball to end the 4th was huge with runners on the corners.So far he is making good pitches.Would love for him to go deep and see what Peralta or Garrett can do with these lefties.

    • Jack

      Offensively I like what he has done since being called back up. Would love for him to start every game the rest of the way.

      • roger garrett

        Why not?Now is the time to commit to some guys and let them play.

  21. J

    The top of the 6th was a rare instance of the Reds scoring a run by doing everything the right way. Hamilton hits the ball on the ground and reaches on an infield hit. Without wasting any time, he steals second. Peraza is NOT asked to bunt, hits the ball pretty well and advances Hamilton to third. With a 2-2 count, Ervin takes a nice quick swing and hits a pitch on the outside part of the plate to right field, easily driving in the run. All Reds players should be required to watch a video of that sequence prior to every game.

  22. roger garrett

    Disco keeping it in the park and is through 6 innings at 80 pitches.

  23. Tom Mitsoff

    It’s interesting that Dixon was moved to second base to replace Herrera. It’s my impression that they really, really like his athleticism and defense. To get moved to an infield position late in a game when they are ahead implies they like Dixon better defensively than Herrera.

    • J

      I’m not willing to give Riggleman that much credit. Sometimes he just seems to be making late inning substitutions for the sake of making late inning substitutions.

    • Jim Walker

      Same thing caught my eye too. Somebody in the org like Dixon. He is getting every opportunity; but then the 25th man needs to play just about everywhere.

      • roger garrett

        I don’t know enough about Dixon,Herrera or Williams to say that was the right thing to do or not.Got to depend on somebody else for that.I seem to remember however that Dixon has played a lot of different positions.

      • Jim Walker

        I believe the purpose of the move was to get a better defensive OF in right by bringing in Williams.

        But why did they bring Dixon in to 2B and remove Herrera instead of just having Williams replace Dixon with him leaving the game?

        Maybe somebody will aske Riggleman after the game.

    • Jack

      I honestly have no idea what the Reds have in mind anymore. The sorting for the past 2 years is half a$$ed and will continue into next year. They haven’t really figured out anything on Reed and Stephenson. Yeah they are getting hitters out in AAA with a big strike zone but next year they have to be on the opening day roster. So are they going to give them a month in September to see if the success in AAA Carries over into the majors? We also can go back and forth with position players as well. Its August and we know what Billy brings so why not play William’s and Ervin every day along with Dixon or even Herrera out there. The Cards traded Pham because they wanted to take a long look at a couple of young guys. The Reds fans have been confused for years with this organization.

  24. SF Reds Fan

    I hope he sends Disco back out in the 8th and let’s him pitch until someone gets on (or he hits ~115 PC). Safe environment to let him go a bit longer (and save the pen).

  25. Tom Mitsoff

    Someone mentioned above that Austin Brice was added as the 26th man for the doubleheader. I have no idea — is he only available for the second game? Because this would be the perfect spot for him, up by 6. Shame to waste Hernandez with another game still to play.

    • Jack

      Not a big fan of Brice but I agree with you. Its 6 runs, bring him in.

  26. VaRedsFan

    Ervin needs the NL to adopt the DH fast.

    • Jack

      He nonchalants everything. Someone needs to tell him he isn’t Willie Mays.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Yep. We’re seeing enough of him to perhaps categorize him as a righthanded batting version of Jesse Winker, in terms of strong offensively and below-average defensively.

      • roger garrett

        Hope he is willing to work on his defense.Seems to be a good enough athlete.

      • Jim Walker

        I’m going to mildly defend Ervin on the Harper double. Caveat: we don’t see the critical 1st read and couple of steps on the TV. However from what I saw that ball was a real top spin slicer cutting in on him and diving short simultaneously. He makes a sliding effort to catch it at shin level and has it go off his glove. To me his play totally defendable to that point. However he was much too slow or nonchalant to regroup and get the ball back to the infield.

      • Jack

        Agree on all. Tough catch but his urgency on a lot of stuff is non existant.

  27. Jack

    Kind of a crappy crowd for a Saturday afternoon game and only what 5? games out of first. Almost thought the Reds were home team.

    • VaRedsFan

      This was the makeup for the rainout I believe.

  28. Tom Mitsoff

    In the “how interesting” category, Dave Martinez is managing this ninth inning as if the game was close. Not sure why you’d bring in a lefthander (or any other pitcher) when you’re down by 6 and have another game still to play.

    • Jack

      Just keeping up with the other managers decisions. Perfect place for Brice and Reyes

  29. Jack

    Now he uses Lorenzen with a 7-1 lead. What lead to small for Reyes?

  30. roger garrett

    I often think, which I do should less of, that sometimes managers just have to show their in the game.I saw no reason why Riggs or Martinez did what they did.Its not like you are gathering info to use again.The Reds aren’t going anywhere and although the Nats look good on paper I don’t think they will either.

  31. Jeff Reed

    Lorenzen. An ok pitcher but inconsistent in getting the ball over the plate.