The Reds (50-65) will undoubtedly be glad to return home this evening after a rough nine-game road trip that saw them go 2-7. Optimism has dwindled lately in Redsland after riding into the All-Star break on a high note, particularly when it comes to the starting rotation. The group made some strides from May onward but has scuffled of late — Luis Castillo and Sal Romano notwithstanding — with a 5.67 ERA in the second half. These next two months will be a critical time of evaluation for the pitching staff as the organization determines whether it should go after an established starter in free agency and whether competing in 2019 is a serious possibility.

The competition won’t get easier for the Reds this weekend after facing the lowly Mets earlier in the week. The NL West-leading Diamondbacks (64-52) are rolling into town for Cincinnati’s first of two straight series against first-place clubs. Fortunately, the Reds have performed well against division-leading teams recently. They’ll need that good fortune to continue after the first pitch is unleashed tonight at 7:10 p.m.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Clay Buchholz 57.0 2.68 3.97 21.9% 6.0%
Anthony DeSclafani 59.2 4.98 4.44 19.8% 7.1%

Although he’s only made 10 starts, Clay Buchholz has had somewhat of a career resurgence in the desert. After an ugly end to his Red Sox career in 2016 and a lost season with the Phillies in 2017 due to a forearm injury, the 33-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Royals in the offseason. He couldn’t break through in even the woeful Kansas City rotation and eventually used his opt-out clause on May 1. He was released and scooped up by the D-Backs four days later. After making two starts in Triple-A, he was recalled when Shelby Miller was placed on the disabled list. As has been the story of his career, Buchholz has dealt with an injury again — missing nearly a month with an oblique strain — but when healthy, he’s had his first bit of sustained success in three seasons.

The right-hander has been a valuable commodity at the back end of the Diamondbacks’ rotation, especially with the inconsistencies of Robbie Ray and Zack Godley. Buchholz is missing bats at his best rate (10.4 SwStr%) since 2015 and the second-highest rate since his rookie season in 2007. His walk rate is also the second-best of his career, and he has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his 10 outings this season. While his strand rate (84.9%) is unsustainably high and his velocity is at a career low, his peripherals indicate his performance, while not quite as impressive as his ERA indicates, is still pretty darn good.

Scouting report: Buchholz is averaging just 90.4 mph on his fastball this season, but his secondary stuff is still sharp. His cutter is missing bats at a career-high percentage, trailing only James Paxton and Trevor Bauer’s cutters in whiff rate according to Statcast data. His changeup is no slouch, either, coming in at a 17.9% whiff rate and holding hitters to a .227 slugging percentage. Buchholz also mixes in a solid sinker (55.6% groundball rate, .318 SLG) and a curveball that has been rather terrible this season (.394/.400/.697 against). He mixes in all five pitches fairly consistently, throwing each at least 15% of the time.


Following three consecutive rough starts, Anthony DeSclafani finally righted the ship in his last trip to the mound, firing seven innings of one-run baseball against the Nationals. He’s still trying to shake off the rust from a year-and-a-half away from major-league competition, so the rest of this year is essentially a way for him to reacclimate and get ready for 2019.

The home run ball has been Disco’s biggest nemesis this season, and his last outing broke a streak of eight straight starts with a round-tripper allowed. The good news is that number figures to keep coming down, as his 20.5% home run-to-flyball ratio is ridiculously high (league average is 12.7%, 13.1% for starters). Ideally, though, he’ll get back to being a better groundball pitcher the way he was in 2015 and ’16 to help limit the long ball. His current 37.6% is well below his 42.2% mark.

Lineups

Diamondbacks

1. David Peralta (LF)
2. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
3. A.J. Pollock (CF)
4. Eduardo Escobar (3B)
5. Steven Souza Jr. (RF)
6. Ketel Marte (2B)
7. Nick Ahmed (SS)
8. Alex Avila (C)
9. Clay Buchholz (P)

Reds

1. Jose Peraza (SS)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
4. Scooter Gennett (2B)
5. Phillip Ervin (LF)
6. Mason Williams (RF)
7. Tucker Barnhart (C)
8. Anthony DeSclafani (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)

  • Joey Votto is back in the lineup after a two-game absence due to a knee injury. He looked very uncomfortable the last time he played on Monday, so he’s worth keeping an eye on tonight.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Promising news on Scott Schebler and his injured right shoulder:

ICYMI, next weekend is Players’ Weekend around MLB. Here are the nicknames Reds players will be wearing on the backs of their uniforms throughout the weekend:

It’s already been eight years since the Reds and Cardinals duked it out in Great American Ball Park:

Grant Freking wrote about the bizarre roster decisions the Reds have made throughout the course of the rebuild:

Stat of the Day

Red Sox outfielder and AL MVP contender Mookie Betts hit the first cycle of the season last night. It’s been a loooong time since a Reds hitter has accomplished the feat. Eric Davis was the last player to do so back on June 2, 1989. Since that time, the Reds have had six players hit for the cycle against them (Gary Redus, Chad Moeller, Randy Winn, Jose Reyes, Michael Cuddyer, and Freddie Freeman).

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! 16 Comments

  1. Losing Winker and Schebler just took the offensive wind out of our sails it seems. That plus the Pirates kicked our collective arses right out of the gate. They had swept the Brewers right before the ASG and kept right on going. At least through Cincy. Though the Red’s replacement OFers haven’t been awful, it just seemed like we had a good thing going.

    Also our pitching seems to have taken a decided turn for the worse. Oh well… time to complete this rebuild soon anyway. Or so I hope.

    Reply
  2. Oh boy. Billy batting 9th again. No Dilson. Consistency-that’s what Reds got.

    Reply
  3. Here is what I already Mr. Vottois referencing

    https://m.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/flanders-fields

    Reply
  4. Ouch! Into the 13th season of his reign I have found that anything BC likes has not been good for the team.

    “Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman’s chances of winning the full-time job look to be increasing, as team owner Bob Castellini is reportedly “a big fan” of the veteran skipper. Cincinnati has posted a 47-50 record since Riggleman took over from Bryan Price, who was fired after the Reds stumbled out of the gate with a 3-15 start to the season.” ~Mark Pilishuk, MLBTR

    Reply
    • Here my conspiracy laden take. Riggleman is really into sabermetrics but he knows BC is the guy who ultimately calls the shots. Thus his penchant for bunting and playing Hamilton on days ending in “y” is really just his way of earning BC’s approval and once he is a full time manager he will start making sabermetric based decisions. One can only hope.

      But seriously I am glad he is giving Stephenson a chance to pitch in the rotation for the rest of the year.

      Reply
  5. I thought Billy’s nickname was “Bob’s Kid”?

    Reply
  6. Big crowd!! Everybody gets a foul ball.

    Reply
  7. Scooter just improved on a .322 average & .884 ops vs righties. Seems a little better then average to me?

    Reply
  8. Disco is really pitching well.

    Reply
  9. Joey with a key hit there, but its painful to watch him right now. His swing is all arms and no stride/drive with his legs at all? His knees or something…just no drive at all right now?

    Reply
  10. BHam OPS has slipped below 600

    Reply
  11. Hamilton bunt leads to 2 runs.

    That play just sealed it….Riggleman is the manager next year.

    I wish I could write /sarc to the above and feel confident that I am joking about this.

    Reply
  12. That’s the AD I’m talking about. Great effort.

    Reply
  13. The Reds offense has stepped forward this year but they’ve also been showcased as a bunting team.

    Reply

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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.

Category

2018 Reds, Game Thread

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