Turns out the Cincinnati Reds can win baseball games against first-place teams with a starting lineup that includes Dilson Herrera, Phillip Ervin, Brandon Dixon and Curt Casali. The Reds have won the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and go for the sweep tomorrow, with Luis Castillo on the mound, at 1:10 p.m. before hosting Cleveland for three games. 

Cincinnati Reds 6 (52-65) • Arizona Diamondbacks 3 (64-54)

Box Score || Win % || Statcast Hitters Report || Statcast Pitchers Report

Matt Harvey pitched seven innings for the first time in 34 starts, dating back to April 27, 2017. Harvey hasn’t gone more than 7 innings since July 2015. His fastball tonight hit 96-97 mph and Harvey’s breaking pitches were effective. He gave up a 2-run homer in the 4th inning. Harvey struck out seven and walked one. It was a nice start, but doesn’t change the dynamic of Harvey’s trade value. I agree with Matt Wilkes’ assessment in the game preview: “… based on the recent returns the Padres got for Tyson Ross and Jordan Lyles (which were nonexistent), the Reds are likely not going to get any more for Harvey than they would’ve on July 31. At this point, his starts should be going to young pitcher like Cody Reed or Lucas Sims.” I’d add Michael Lorenzen to the list.

David Hernandez gave up a home run and double in the 8th inning. Hernandez entered the game with a low 1.84 ERA, but his peripheral stats tell a different story. His xFIP (based on strikeouts and walks) was 4.17. Relievers are inconsistent. Almost all of them. Reds should have shopped Hernandez aggressively at the trade deadline instead of assuming his recent ERA success would continue. Hernandez was released/not-resigned by the Diamondbacks at the end of 2015, by the Phillies at the end of 2016, by the Giants after spring training in 2017 and the Diamondbacks again last year. 

The Reds scored in the fourth on a Phillip Ervin double down the left field line, scoring Eugenio Suarez who was on after a HBP. With two outs and two strikes, Matt Harvey recorded his first hit as a Reds, dumping a single into right field. 

The Reds took the lead in the bottom of the 8th on a pinch hit double by Tucker Barnhart, scoring Eugenio Suarez, who had been HBP again, and Curt Casali, who had walked. Barnhart drilled a two out, full-count, 96-mph fastball into the left-center gap. Billy Hamilton followed with a line drive single to center, scoring Barnhart. The Diamondbacks were silly enough to intentionally walk Jose Peraza to face Joey Votto. Votto, of course, singled on the first pitch, driving in Hamilton.

Per the TV broadcast, it was the first time since his rookie season in 2008 that an opposing team had intentionally walked a batter to face Joey Votto. Presumably it will also be the last. 

Curt Casali Credit Due The Reds front office deserves kudos for finding Curt Casali on the Tampa Bay Rays AAA roster to be the back-up catcher. The Reds acquired Casali for “cash considerations.” Casali may well stick with the Reds and deserve to do so. He has at least three more years of team control. He’s proven a worthy backstop in terms of hitting and defense. Casali had a single and walk tonight. He’s batting .294/.400/.456. 

Hamilton Moves Up Stolen Base List Billy swiped one in the seventh inning, 28th of the season. Passed ED on the Reds’ all-time list. 

Billy also made a terrific defensive play in the first inning on a long drive by Paul Goldschmidt to deep left center. According to Statcast, Hamilton traveled 123 feet to make the catch. 

Votto’s Knee Joey Votto didn’t start. Still having knee issues from being hit by a pitch by Ryan Madson in the Nationals series. He did pinch hit in the 7th inning and entered the game after that. 

Less Than Great Planning Dilson Herrera made his first start in LF. It was good to see the Reds trying position switches to get Herrera more at bats. But the move also exposed the Reds had never had Herrera play the OF before, at any level. This tweet represents the pure distillation of the Reds rebuild. 

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 34 Comments

  1. I can’t figure this team out.

  2. Nice win.

    I understand Matt and Steve’s (and others) sentiment regarding Harvey not getting more starts, but now the optics of that are bad. Harvey pitched 7 innings tonight, and pitched well, in a win, before a big (for this season) crowd.

    The solution was to not bring him in. Opporunity cost and avoiding this very outcome.
    Second-best solution was to literally pay someone to take him at the trade deadline.

    Harvey will keep pitching under the illusion he can be dealt before the waiver deadline, so the front office saves face.

    Herrera? Playing out of place so Scooter plays every night. Does anyone doubt that he is another “owner’s favorite” and will be getting a contract extension at some point? #RedsWay

    • Agree on Harvey. Terrified the answer to your last question is yes.

      • Scooter’s definitely getting an extension. Would be shocked otherwise — he and Billy will play 150+ games for the Reds next year, managed by Riggleman. Bob C. won’t have it any other way. I’ve resigned myself to these facts, have given up hoping for coherent leadership that optimizes opportunities to find more reliable starting pitching by trading players at peak value. Next year we’ll have 9 unproven starters in training camp and have all the same conversations we did this year about ‘The sorting’ as we aspire to win 80 games.

        • The biggest part of ability is availability. Vertigo is no joke….ask Nick Esasky. Scooter is signed for next year. There is no law against bringing him back and seeing how Senzel looks and then acting accordingly. Same with Dilson….he’s been hurt more then he’s played.

          • Scooter is currently slashing .313/.362/491 for 2018. It seemed to me he has cooled down a fair bit lately, so I checked the stats per mlb.com. He had a HUGE May (.398/418/.720), and a very good June (.309/.361/.474). At June 30 he was at .332/.372/526 for 2018. July numbers were somewhat lower (.259/354/.435) and for August (9 full games and 1 PH appearance) he is slashing .273/.294/.303. His last 30 games he is slashing .248/.331/.367. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes. I like Scooter, and I hope he has more months closer to May and June. But I wouldn’t be doing an extension just yet if I were the Reds.

          • Schebler shows signs of being injury prone too. Even if he makes it back this time next week, that’s a month he will have missed with the shoulder this year on top of the 3 weeks or so he missed earlier this year with the elbow. Last year he had the issue with his other shoulder where he tried to keep playing before finally sitting out. From start to when he was somewhat back to normal was in the 6 week to 2 month range also.

        • Unfortunately Keith I can’t argue that you’ll be proven wrong. That makes me sad. I am starting to be resigned to those same facts. Based on Scooter’s recent comments it appears he’s heading into the offseason expecting an extension to get done and would be shocked if one isn’t reached. Big Bob has spoken. Hope Senzel can play the OF…I guess.

          The really unfortunate thing about the Spring Training “competition” is that the Reds will likely use the inconsistent, irrelevant, and extremely small sample size of ST innings as a barometer to determine which guys have “earned” a starting spot instead of using actual innings against a standard level of competition to determine an pitcher’s effectiveness.

    • They’re 9-7 in Harvey’s starts. They obviously don’t believe in BobSteve or Reed so they didn’t consider Harvey to be blocking anyone. I don’t know what the Reds were asking for Harvey but to say that he couldn’t help any of the contenders is crazy? Felix just got demoted in Seattle. Mike Leake has given up 162 hits in 146 ip. Harvey could easily pull of low 4s era or a little better in a pitchers park like that. Oakland is going with Edwin Jackson? He’s been everywhere and they all let him walk for a reason. I don’t know?

      As for Scooter…..I think he was at .322 and .885 ops vs righties coming into tonite. Thats not chopped liver? Nobody says he has to play everyday? He’s a smallish guy and Billy is slight of build. They probably shouldn’t play 150 games a year? To just assume Senzel or Dilson could come in and duplicate that is not wise imo. They’ll get Mesoraco’s $ off the books and they can pay Scooter with that. I think they can buyout Homer for 2020 so thats the cash they can pay a decent starting pitcher. They should save Billy’s money too. I don’t see where keeping a quality hitter like Scooter is a gross mismanagement of resources?

      • It’s not a question of Scooter being a good hitter right now. It’s a judgment call of will Scooter be better than Senzel or even Herrera over the next 4-5 at 20-30 times the cost. If not and your not going to extend him, then you should be trying to extract as value out of him on the trade market. That’s what good baseball organizations do when they aren’t winning, it’s what this organization has not done during the rebuild.

        If they decided that Scooter will be as good or better than the kids over the next 4-5 years fine. Then extend him, get the shoulder fixed, and use the kids to go get a starter or two. Either way they need to act and I have little faith left that they will.

        • Your last statement said the most. You’re not getting a top line starter for veterans. You keep the all star who has crushed it for 2 straight seasons, and trade the unproven prospects that teams covet so much, for a young controllable starter (Latos-like deal).

          • I’d first like to see if Scooter continues to crush it, going back to July through September.

        • Good stuff SABRCHRIS. That is exactly the kind of things I would hope the Reds are weighing and it’s what good organizations do.

    • The Reds may believe that they can sign Harvey at the end of the season, which would account for his continuing to get starts. With Bailey, that makes two veteran pitchers and four young pitchers in the 6-man rotation.

      • According to interviews they have inquired on what it would take and Harvey has actually said he likes it in Cincinnati. This could be an extended look before making an offer. I think it is more of a situation where they didn’t get a good offer so now they have to go with him and hope for the best. At the end of the season if the Reds want to be the highest bidder and his results for the rest of the season are good, he may be the veteran free agent acquisition.

        • Bill, I’m not saying the Reds won’t consider trying to bring Harvey back.

          My question is what does bringing Harvey back accomplish? Is he the top of the rotation pitcher the Reds need to put them in the conversation of competing in 2019? I don’t think so. At this point in Harvey’s career he’s a #4/5 type pitcher. Nothing wrong with that, but is paying him on the FA market a better use of resources than allowing one of Romano, Stephenson, Reed, or Sims be the 5th starter?

          The Reds appear stuck with Bailey. They will have Disco as well if both are healthy that’s two rotation spots spoken for by veterans, neither of whom should be counted on for being a top of the rotation guy at this point. Why bring in a third veteran who doesn’t tip the scales from basement dwellers to wild card challengers?

          • Harvey, like every other pitcher the Reds have, is a work in progress, in his case because he’s coming back from surgery. He has, unlike Stephenson et al, a pretty strong background of MLB success, though, and is showing signs of recovering his velocity and command, so it might be worth gambling a little that he could, again, be a top of the rotation starter or, at least, a very solid middle rotation guy who keeps them in games. The Reds might have an advantage in dealing with him that they wouldn’t with other FA starters. And, anyway, are there any pitchers entering free-agency who look to be sure-thing aces?

          • That’s a pretty optimistic view of Harvey. It’s been over two years since he’s had thoracic outlet surgery. At the time the Mets and Boras both expected a 4-6 month recovery and that he’d be ready to rejoin the rotation in the spring of 2017. He hasn’t been good since 2015, and though he’s shown signs of returning to form every once and a while he’s also been very inconsistent as well. Before last night he’d had given up 15 earned runs in 12.2 innings over three previous starts. That’s not a guy that seems like he’s about to turn a corner. I mean Bailey has strung together a couple of good starts as well here and there. I don’t expect him to be a difference maker next season though, because he hasn’t been good since 2014.

            If we’re going to base next season on wishing and hoping, I’d rather wish and hope a guy with stuff like Stephenson can figure it out rather, and pitch like he has in AAA over the past few months than hoping Harvey can recapture his production that he hasn’t shown in four seasons.

          • It doesn’t have to be either/or. There’s room in the rotation for wishing/hoping for both Harvey and Stephenson. If the Reds actually acquire a couple of good FA starters, that would change thiongs, obviously.

  3. Despite the team’s record not being much different this year than the last two, this is the first year of the rebuild where you can see progress being made. With players like Herrera, Blandino, Dixon, Ervin, Casali and probably some others not coming to mind, the Reds have legitimate depth with their backups. It was only a few years ago that the Reds had the historically worst bench in baseball.

    The offense is getting close to being where it needs to be with more help on the way. Starting pitching remains elusive and looks to be pretty far off still.

    My brother told me the Reds announcer said the Reds are 38-4 this year when the other team scores less than 4 runs. If that is accurate, imagine what they could do with a couple of top notch pitchers on the staff.

    • 4 or less….and I think it was since June 1st (or May 1st) or something? Your point remains the same though!

    • I heard that, too, and it’s the best record in MLB. Seems like proof that pitching is the issue.

    • Agree on the depth. Casali has been incredible. In some situations, he would be pushing for everyday status. I’m not too sure he isn’t the 1A choice versus LH starting pitching even as things are with the Reds. That’s not a knock on Barnhart; it’s a kudos to Casali. If Ervin continues to play like he has since he came up at the ASB, I don’t think he will be considered depth in the long run.

      • He would be on my team but the Reds (and many other MLB teams) seem to prefer a schedule for their catchers versus a platoon based on L/R splits.

  4. Looked to me like Herrera passed the LF test tonight. Especially with Dixon struggling, no reason he shouldn’t be cleared for spot duty everywhere but CF and C since he apparently played some SS in minors. The guy looks like a player; and, the Reds need to get him PT if for no other reason than to try and build some market value for him.

    • I agree. He does need some reps out there, but he should be fine. He even made a nice, accurate throw, at least on a short throw to second.

  5. I’d trade Gennett, keep Hamilton and let Harvey finish 2018 with the team, also, I’d DFA Bailey at the end of the season.

  6. I agree with you 100%. Let me throw in one more you left out:

    Harvey went 7 innings, allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts. Does anyone really think Reed, Stephenson or Sims can top that? I don’t. Every position player has confidence in Harvey. I seriously doubt they do with Reed or Stephenson right now.

    • I think most would be in agreement that Harvey is better than the guys in AAA, if the goal is to win as many games as possible. The argument is that Harvey will not be part of the team in the future so now is the time to give those guys experience. A few more wins does nothing for this team this year. The Reds should have traded him at the deadline, and now they are dependent on him making it through waivers to a team legitimately interested in him. There is a good chance he remains on the team, but that is because they failed to trade him at the deadline, not because he gives the Reds the best opportunity to win games

      • If Harvey isn’t part of the team next year, the argument is correct, but it seems possible that they think he might sign with them, in which case this makes more sense.

      • Its important to ownership and the FO to create as much distance as possible from 68-94 last year and (3) consecutive 90 loss seasons. If Harvey and others help them finish win 75 games in 2018 , that’s a ” big improvement” – as they need this off-season to build the narrative they’ve turned the corner. Playing and pitching the young guys and risking 71-91 is not acceptable to BC.

        The Reds are not above manufacturing their own news. They are in deep trouble with an apathetic fan base. Attendance is poor. The NFL is starting. School is starting. They need positive news to end the season.

        Keeping scooter, keeping Riggleman, showcasing Hamilton in CF and overpaying for Harvey in FA would all be moves for 2019 that would feed off a ” winning” 2018 season if you just ignore the 3-18 to start the season.

  7. Lester got lit up again last night. In his last 5 starts, he’s 1-4 , giving up 36 hits in 22.2 innings. He’s allowed 26 ER with 9 HR, walking 11 & striking out 17. Quintana isn’t much better, in his last 3 starts he’s 1-2, allowing 12 ER in 15.1 innings. Chatwood has allowed 8 ER in his last 10.1 innings (4 appearances) allowing 12 hits plus walking 11. He’s now in the bullpen. Darvish hasn’t pitched since May. Trading for Harvey is a no-brainer to me. But I hope the Cubs don’t. It’ll be fun watching Harvey vs Cubs later this month.

  8. Did MLB tighten up the rules with September call ups? I know there was some talk over the winter about limiting the number of call ups to 5 or 6 the each team can bring up. The complaints about the fairness of the call ups were getting louder.
    I know they are still limited to players on the 40 man roster.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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