Can the Reds (52-65) just play first-place teams the rest of the season? The team pulled off a come-from-behind victory last night on the heels of another strong pitching performance to win the series over the Diamondbacks (64-54). Per Nick Kirby, Cincinnati is now 22-12 against teams atop their respective divisions since May 10. The Reds will try to make it 23-12 and complete the sweep today at 1:10 p.m. ET.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Zack Godley 130.1 4.35 3.93 23.7% 10.4%
Luis Castillo 121.0 4.91 3.96 21.9% 7.6%

Zack Godley was quietly one of the strongest middle-of-the-rotation arms in baseball in 2017, posting a 3.37 ERA (3.32 xFIP) and 3.5 fWAR in his first full season as a major-league starter. With his strikeout and walk rates both heading in the wrong direction, however, he hasn’t recaptured that success this year. For Diamondbacks fans, Godley has been frustratingly inconsistent all season. He’s not missing bats at the same pace he did last season, with his swinging strike rate falling from 13.3% to 12.0%. While that’s still a solid mark, that drop combined with a walk rate that ranks seventh-worst in baseball has spelled trouble at times. Godley has also seen a dip in his groundball rate (from 55.3% to 50.5%) and an uptick in hard-hit percentage (32.2% to 36.0%), which has led to more hits finding holes as well.

All that said, the 28-year-old is coming off a pair of outstanding starts. In his last two outings against the Rangers and Phillies, he has combined to allow just two runs and seven hits in 14 1/3 innings. He’s also struck out 17 and walked only two batters. When the Reds faced him on May 29, he threw six innings of two-run baseball in an Arizona victory.

Scouting report: Godley is yet another hurler who has found success by “pitching backwards.” He throws his curveball at a usage rate of nearly 41% and gets a swing and miss nearly 20% of the time. Per FanGraphs pitch value, it is the second-best curveball among all qualified pitchers, behind only Corey Kluber. Hitters are slugging just .296 when putting the curve into play, and 103 of his strikeouts have ended on the pitch. Godley’s other offerings have not been effective this season. He throws both a sinker (31%) and a cutter (23%) along with a seldom-used changeup (5%). His average sinker velocity has dropped from 91.6 to 90.1 mph, which — along with a significant drop in groundball rate — has likely played at least some role in his inconsistent performance. Godley is also getting fewer whiffs on his cutter, with hitters improving their contact rate from 73.1% to 80.3%.


Luis Castillo is finally pitching the way everyone expected coming into the 2018 season. Over his last four starts, he’s pitched to a 1.99 ERA (3.66 xFIP) in 22 2/3 innings. The right-hander has struck out 19 and walked only four during this run, which has seen him bring his season ERA from 5.58 to 4.91. Castillo’s command has been much sharper of late, as he’s painting the corner of the plate with his fastball instead of leaving it over the middle. Castillo has also not been as reliant on his four-seamer during this run, increasing his slider and changeup usage instead. If he can continue this momentum for the rest of the year, it would give the Reds at least one pitcher they can feel really good about heading into next season.

Lineups

Diamondbacks

1. Jon Jay (RF)
2. Paul Goldschmidt (1B)
3. David Peralta (LF)
4. A.J. Pollock (CF)
5. Daniel Descalso (3B)
6. Ketel Marte (2B)
7. Nick Ahmed (SS)
8. Alex Avila (C)
9. Zack Godley (P)

Reds

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

  • Joey Votto (knee) is back in the lineup today after making a pinch-hit appearance in last night’s ballgame.
  • Preston Tucker is also making his return to the lineup. He was hit in the foot by a Noah Syndergaard fastball on Monday and had missed the last four games.

News, Notes, & Pre-Game Reading

Stat of the Day

For the first time since 2013, the Reds pitching staff is not on pace to join the company of the worst in the league when it comes to walking batters. Between 2014 and 2017, the team’s walk rate was among the three highest in baseball in each season. In 2016, the team’s walk rate (10.0%) was the worst in baseball. This year, the team has the 11th-highest walk rate in the game at 8.8%. While that’s still not at a desirable level, it represents a marked improvement over the last two years, when the team had a walk rate above 10% in both seasons. Amir Garrett has had the biggest improvement from last year, improving from 12.5% to 8.8%.

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! 38 Comments

  1. Can someone post where Votto ranks on the WARWIC (wins above replacement when it counts) list?

    Reply
    • Keep in mind, this isn’t really a thing because batting “when it counts” isn’t any more of a separate skill that batting on Wednesday, but here are the wOBA in “high leverage” situations according to FanGraphs, along with MLB ranking out of 160 qualified batters:

      Winker .470 #8
      Suarez .404 #25
      Votto .388 #30
      Gennett .364 #43
      Barnhart .325 #68
      Schebler .288 #97
      Peraza .261 #115
      Hamilton .187 #156

      Reply
      • Marty and Tracy have a daily segment on all things baseball on 700 WLW. Last week they had a segment on clutch hitting and 2 out RBI guys. At the end…Marty said” I got another guy who was clutch…..Albert Pujols !!!”.

        When was Pujols not good???- arguably one of the top 5 RH hitters of all time.

        Reply
      • It must be real. I read the comments here religiously and I have discovered Votto never hits when it counts, has no power, walks too much, can’t play defense, can’t run, and watches pitches go by for no apparent reason

        Reply
      • Driving runs in might not be a ‘skill’ per se, but the value of the ‘skill’ of getting on base is dependent upon getting driven in by somebody, to convert getting on base into runs.

        The team that hits 2 for 6 w/RISP probably succeeds more often than not compared to the team that hits 1 for 8 w/RISP.

        Do you care about tracking individual glory or the reasons for team success?

        While Votto isn’t driving runs in at a superior level anymore he’s still getting on base. His value is more and more dependent upon the guys behind him getting it done when it counts to score runs.

        Can’t value getting on base more than getting those guys on base home. Each is dependent upon the other to have value.

        Reply
        • You’re absolutely right. Both scoring runs and driving in runs largely depend on teammates (other than home runs). That’s why we should look at contributions to run creation as a better measuring stick than either of those numbers. For example, suppose batter 1 singles, batter 2 doubles, moving batter 1 to third base. Then batter 3 hits a routine fly ball out, but the runner on third is able to score. Batter 2 had the biggest impact on scoring the run. Without his contribution, the other two parts are meaningless. Yet, batter 1 gets credit with a run scored and batter 3 gets credit with an RBI.

          But if you devise a system that calculates how much each at bat outcome (single, double, sacrifice fly) contributes to a run being scored, you’d have a much more accurate way to measure and evaluate a player’s contribution to run production.

          Reply
  2. Dilson got a start plus 3 PA last night. Riggleman will probably give him a few days off to recover.

    Reply
    • Starting 28-year old, AAAA level, Preston Tucker is another sign of how thin the near-term MLB pipeline is for the Reds.

      Howdy to all the Premier League soccer fans on this site (you know who you are). Manchester City just tonked Arsenal, 🙁 …. but City are going to do that to a lot of teams this season.

      Go Redlegs.

      Reply
      • Go Red Devils! But City is actually my 2nd favorite team. Go figure. I’m also pulling for the Wolves since they are back in. They had become my sentimental faves before they were relegated.

        Reply
      • Yeah, tough start to the schedule for Arsenal. Was hoping for a draw.

        The Reds do have other, younger options that could be playing in the outfield. They just refuse to use them.

        Reply
  3. Man, 3-0 early.

    Reply
  4. Castillo? 0-2 pitch right down the middle? How many times has he done that this year? He has got to be better then that! He gives up crooked number bombs too….not limiting damage with solo shots.

    Reply
  5. Barnhart has to let that pitch hit him. Adam Eaton would have stood in there like a champ just to get on. It’s all about keeping the line moving . Instead he goes down swinging.

    Reply
  6. Scooter and Billy are definitely headed for contract extensions. Maybe they can make Senzel into a super sub next year and get him 4-5 ABs a week.

    Reply
  7. Did anyone see the Reds signed an outfielder out of an independent league.

    Reply
  8. 13 in a row for Castillo….he is rolling! If he could back that 98 mph heater then he’s a top 5 NL pitcher! Even at 95-96 he can still be very good!

    Reply
  9. I have little use for this Preston Tucker dude. Throw out the lefty/righty thing and play Ervin every day.

    Reply
    • +1000

      Ervin and Dilson need to play as much as possible…but its beating a dead horse. Billy gets a few hits now and then and makes some nice grabs. Never mind that the Reds have been outhomered 35 at home in 2/3 of a season. Thats a negative 50+ pace for the season.

      Ervin in particular really swings it well the other way. He can run and hits it line to line with some power. Plus he’ll take a walk. Why not see what he can do?

      Minor league update….been keeping track of Jose Siri a little at AA. He’s only hitting .236 (.310 obp) but .827 ops with 7 triples, 10 Hrs, and 11 steals in 174 atbats. You can’t teach bat speed and foot speed. He’s interesting!

      Reply
      • Getting out homered at home can’t happen.Reds must realize where they play and build the team to the park.

        Reply
  10. Joey Votto’s slugging percentage is closer to Peraza’s than Gennet’s. On trying to figure out what this means. Definitely a down year for Votto’s power.

    Reply
    • Votto turns 35 next month.

      With many aging curves published on MLB players, age 35 usually starts a significant down leg on production.

      https://mglbaseball.com/2016/12/21/a-new-method-of-constructing-more-accurate-aging-curves/

      Not a shock if Votto’s power is declining for good. He will change his approach.

      The hope would seem to be that a healthy Winker or Senzel picks up the power slack, starting next season.

      Still need more HRs, even if one of those guys offsets Votto.

      Reply
      • I agree. Thats why I don’t want to lose Scooter. He’s always trying to lift the ball. He’s not going good now, but he drove one to the wall today. He’s just missed several long balls lately. Scheber would be big if he can throw?

        Joey to me is a little frustrating. He doesn’t try to drive the ball usually? He just fights off good pitches til he can walk like a leadoff hitter….except he’s a turtle on the bases. I think if he comes back healthier and more aggressive then he could still hit 18-20.

        Bottom line though….they’ve been outhomered 37 at home now.

        Reply
  11. I’m not so sure Preston Tucker is the best roster option right now.

    Reply
    • 28 years old and basically was a throw in , in the trade. AAA lifer, called up when they need a 4th or 5th outfielder. Should play once a week only

      Reply
  12. They have to find more at bats for Herrera. 2-3 starts a week at 2B shouldn’t be that difficult to do.

    Reply
  13. So I guess they have relegated Mella to the bullpen officially. Kind of weird since he was the 2nd or 3rd best starter in the whole minor league system this year, but maybe the addition of Sims has pushed him into the pen for good.

    Reply
  14. Mella has a lot to prove in the MLB. He’s a good 1.5 to 2 ft off the mit. Guys have bad days, but this is what you do day-in and day-out. If you can’t locate a pitch you don’t deserve to be on an mlb roster.

    This is where the Reds have to demand pitching and not throwing throughout the system.

    Reply
    • Of course he cleans things up after my post. Still, he’s got to prove he can locate which is a problem with a lot of this team’s pitching prospects.

      Reply
  15. They should DL Joey….he’s not right? 2 extra basehits since the AS break? His swing is all arms and no drive with his legs at all? Similar to the one year he hit .255 or whatever with a bad knee. It might make him upset, but they need to see other guys more then they need him to go John Wayne out there when he’s not helping the team?

    Reply
  16. No need at this point to play anybody that is hurt.Joey hasn’t driven the ball in a long time and he surely won’t now with a bad knee.Serves no purpose at all for him to be out there.

    Reply
  17. Got to be able to outslug the other team in today’s game.Yes a lot of being out homered by probably 50 + at home this year is on our staff,we start 3 guys that won’t hit 20 all together and play 145+ games.Throw in Joey’s power decline along with the pitcher and we are in trouble every game.Today’s game is a reminder of what needs to be done in the off season.

    Reply
    • Obviously the more home runs the better since a HR always scores at least a run. That doesn’t mean the Reds need eight Adam Dunns in the lineup. They need a balance of power and on base skills. Suarez, Gennett, and Schebler can all provide power. Winker and possibly Votto can provide some power and high OBP. Suarez and Schebler were also getting on base. Replace Hamilton with Schebler and put one of the 2B in RF and you have probably improved the power and have one of the top run scoring teams in the league.

      Run scoring is not the problem, although more is always better. Giving up too many runs has been the issue this year

      Reply
      • Consistent run scoring has been an issue. In April when every bat but Suarez (injured) stunk the Reds got off to the historically bad start. After the all star break they couldn’t score any runs either. Scooter goes hot and cold, Schebler has streaky tendencies. Peraza is the same. BH is very streaky mostly to the negative side.

        Giving up runs also comes from terrible defense. These Reds pitchers too often contend with getting 29 or 30 outs because of the defensive liabilities of every spot except for center field. Left field was pretty solid too until Duvall was traded away. Don’t blame it all on the pitching.

        Reply
        • I didn’t blame anything on the pitching. I stated giving up too many runs is the issue . The pitching has not been good and the poor defense only makes it look worse. I am in full agreement that the defense must improve, which is why I am all for trading Gennett, getting Senzel in the infield, leaving Winker in LF, and getting a real CF to replace Hamilton.

          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.

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2018 Reds, Game Thread

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