After 3 runs in the first inning, the starting pitchers settled down and produced the duel we were all expecting. The Reds took an early lead as Yasiel Puig homered off of Clayton Kershaw in his first at-bat as an opponent in Los Angeles. Luis Castillo battled against a potent Dodgers offense and the Reds bullpen pitched beautifully until the 9th inning as Joc Pederson crushed a Raisel Iglesias hanging breaking ball to steal a victory from the good guys.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (5-10) 3 7 1
Los Angeles Dodgers (10-8) 4 5 0
W: Jansen (1-0) L: Iglesias (0-3)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Statcast

Key Plays

Pitching

Castillo was working hard straight from the get-go. He went to 3-0 counts against Joc Pederson (walk) and Justin Turner (single) before giving up a double to Cody Bellinger to put the Dodgers on the board. He did come back and strike out A.J. Pollock and Max Muncy to end the inning, so good job by Luis to limit the damage.

Castillo ran into more trouble in the third after issuing a walk to Justin Turner and then hitting Bellinger square in the knee with a 95-mph fastball. It was very similar to Ryan Madson’s pitch that hit Joey Votto last year. Castillo was noticeably upset at himself for potentially injuring Bellinger, who stayed in the game at the time (he was removed after the inning). Castillo then struck out Pollock and Muncy back-to-back for the second time in a row to end the inning.

After a 1-2-3 4th inning for Castillo, he ran into his biggest jam of the night in the 5th after singles by Pederson and Turner and a walk to Alex Verdugo to load the bases. Castillo then walked Pollock to tie the score at 2-2, but got out of the jam with Max Muncy’s third strikeout and a Kike Hernandez flyout. More damage control in a key situation to keep the Reds in the game.

Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta pitched the 6th, allowing one runner on an error by Kyle Farmer. Peralta threw two very nice sliders to strike out Corey Seager after falling behind 3-1. Robert Stephenson came on to pitch the 7th and 8th and retired all six batters he faced, including two strikeouts to end the 8th, accumulating 0.182 WPA, good for his 4th best game ever.

Raisel Iglesias continued his free fall that began last year. After walking the leadoff hitter, pinch hitter David Freese, a Joc Pederson no-doubter gave Iglesias his third loss of the year.

Hitting

The Reds offense went quiet after the first inning fireworks. Kershaw did not allow a baserunner again until a Matt Kemp single in the 4th. Jose Peraza grounded into a fielder’s choice and was then picked off stealing second. A leadoff single by Jose Iglesias in the 5th was squandered by a Scott Schebler double play.

The Reds were retired in order in the 6th via three strikeouts. Puig led off the 7th inning with a very hard hit single (107 mph exit velocity), but the Reds were retired in order after that. Kershaw was pulled after 84 pitches with a final line of 7.0 IP, 5H, 2ER, 0BB, 6K. Strong game from the future Hall-of-Famer.

After a 1-2-3 8th, Curt Casali popped a double to the right field gap off of Kenley Jansen to start the 9th inning. After a Suarez strikeout and a Puig flyout to advance the runner, former-Dodger Matt Kemp delivered the goods with a bloop single to right to give the Reds the lead.

Key Players

It is no secret that Yasiel Puig has struggled the being the year, but the first inning blast off of Kershaw back in L.A. was a great moment in this young season. Puig has now homered in back-to-back games, and while his wRC+ is still a mere 56, a hot steak on this road trip would help Reds fans forget all about his slow start.

Luis Castillo had his swing-and-miss stuff tonight with a swinging strike rate (15.3%) just under his performance so far this year (16.7%), led by his changeup and a good outing for his slider as well. On the other hand, he also allowed five walks and hit a batter, bringing his BB/9 up to 4.74 this year, well above league average of 3.53. Some credit is due to the Dodgers strong plate discipline (11.3% walk-rate, 3rd in MLB), but Castillo could have been sharper. Still, a solid overall performance that should continue to encourage Reds fans about his future.

Robert Stephenson looks like a completely different pitcher so far this year. I agree with those in Reds Country calling for Stephenson to pitch in higher leverage situations. He delivered nicely tonight and now has 12 Ks and 1 BB in 9.1 innings so far this year.

Who else but the other former Dodger to punch home the go-ahead run off of Jansen in the 9th inning. Matt Kemp has had an even rougher start to the season than Puig (current wRC+ is up to 17). It will be interesting to see what happens to his playing time when Nick Senzel returns.

I know it is early, but Raisel’s current FIP/xFIP is 6.90/5.22, continuing a downward trend that lasted nearly all of 2018. He is allowing more hard contact and more home runs than he ever did during 2015-2017. I am not sure what the root problem is, but Iglesias clearly is not the same pitcher we are used to seeing.

Game Notes:

  • Dodger fans gave Puig a nice ovation before his first at-bat. Reactions were a bit more mixed after the home run
  • Per the Reds broadcast, Bellinger’s first inning double was the first extra base hit against Castillo this year. Pretty good run for the young pitcher to start 2019
  • Also per the broadcast, tonight was the first time the Reds scored in the 9th inning of a game this season
  • Curt Casali’s wRC+ is up to 141 on the year. That is turning into a real nice pickup by the Reds
  • Derek Dietrich entered the game in the 7th inning, replacing Kyle Farmer. Nice to see him back after a tough HBP on the ankle in Mexico.
  • Castillo unofficially got a hit off Kershaw in the second inning after a broken bat bloop to right field. Castillo lost track of the ball, appearing distracted by the cracked bat and did not leave the batter’s box for a few seconds, getting thrown out easily. According to Statcast, it had a 95% hit probability

Random Thoughts:

Pretty cool words from Puig regarding Joey Votto

In honor of Castillo’s bizarre play, another baseball play that I had never seen before

Up Next:

The Reds and Dodgers are back at it for more #latenightbaseball tomorrow at 10:10pm EST. Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda are the probable starting pitchers.

45 Responses

  1. Aaron B.

    This is West Coast baseball… these hitters are more patient, looking for something they can drive a long, long way in the cold night air… as such Reds pitching needs to attack more, as Roark mentioned after his trade, and nibble less. And when you do decide to give in and leave something in the zone it shouldn’t be a breaking ball in Joc Pedersen’s wheel house. If Iglesias didn’t intentionally throw that game he mine as well have, that was not a winning formula. So discouraging. The Reds had every opportunity for trading this guy last off season.

  2. Ed

    Anybody think that maybe Raisel Iglesias is just upset because there is another Iglesias on the team?

    • ToBeDetermined

      Ed
      That’s the kind of outside the box thinking that we need more of. 🙂

      • matt hendley

        Interesting theory but I think it is a little deeper than that. I think that it was a mistake to lock in the Salary for Iglesias. Last night aside he has seemed to perform better in traditional save situations than in ‘unique pitching’ scenario. Now without a motivation, he truly has begun to show dangerous signs. Truly though there was not a single pitch thrown in that game where the reds were losing.

  3. Jim Walker

    I do not share the enthusiasm for Castillo’s effort tonight. Coming into the game his K rate was an unsustainable 35.2% for the year with a BB rate of 11.3%. Tonight he walked 5 and hit a batter while striking out 7 He required 98 pitches to record 15 outs (~6.5 per out).

    Yes his stuff is filthy right now; but, I think it is also fair to suggest he can’t continue to succeed and grow unless he leashes it better. The 1st run scored off him reached on a BB. The second run was pushed home from 2B by consecutive walks. The piper is eventually going to be paid for all the walks when his K rate regresses toward a normal (career 25.3%) and his HR/9 progresses toward its career norm (1.26) unless his BB rate also gets down toward its career level (7.8%).

    • SultanofSwaff

      Yes Jim, I wasn’t enamored of his outing either. His fastball location was really lacking. What concerns me moving forward is the pitch sequencing. As good as it is, the over-reliance on the changeup is stunting his development in my opinion. He has a good not great slider, but using it more often (even as a waste pitch) will keep hitters guessing. Right now in most counts they have a 50/50 chance of being right.

      • ohiojimw

        Castillo is closing in on the equivalent of 2 full seasons in an MLB rotation (50 starts to date). He continues to be hyped as a future ace the Reds could build their staff around. However, I just don’t see the growth. What I see is the same unbridled potential as when he burst upon the scene.

        His career FIP is hovering just under 4 (3.97). He walks just under 3 guys per 9 innings and allows about 1.24 HRs per 9. On average he does not make it thru 6 inning per start (5.2) That’s not ace production.

        To those who say he is still young, look at what Mario Soto and Johnny Cueto had done by the same age. This is Castillo’s age 26 season. At the end of their age 26 season’s Soto had 19.5 bWAR (career 28.6); Cueto 13.5, (career to date 34.5). Castillo had 5.7 bWAR to start the season and is projected by ZIPS to earn just over 2 this season.

        And yes Castillo was late to arrive at MLB compared to Soto and Cueto; but, that doesn’t guarantee him greater productive longevity on the backside of his career. The additional time in the minors wears on an arm the same as pitching in MLB does.

        In Castillo I see a guy who is as likely to be a useful mid rotation piece as an ace. Keep giving him the ball and riding the roller coaster with him. However start looking elsewhere for the man who is going to be a long term anchor for a winning rotation.

      • ToBeDetermined

        OhioJim & JimWalker (your twin)

        Interesting, thanks for your comments. I hadn’t seen anyone putting the breaks on the performances of Castillo. So I guess your saying that eventhough the traditional #s such as W-L ERA SO have been good. Looking beyond that there is reason for concern. And that he may eventually revert to a higher mean.

        But, then again if he is able to overcome some of these deficiencies that he still has room for significant growth

  4. jreis

    for the 5th year in a row, (or 6th? I can’t remember) our reds are still playing spring training ball, jester ball, clown ball, minstrel baseball, whatever you want to call it. That Castillo ground out to the right fielder could have changed the complexion of the game if he reaches, you never know. that is the frustrating thing to me. this has not been a rebuild it has been more of an exhibition on how to be entertaining while still losing. the quality of play from 2014 to 2019 has if anything worsened, certainly from a fundamentals standpoint.

    That is why I am not sold on Bell as a manager yet. yes he creates intriguing lineups and defensive shifts but is he the guy that can change the culture in to a team that just takes the game more seriously?

    • Matthew Habel

      Understand the frustration but Kershaw was in control after the first inning. Don’t think that base runner would have mattered, but I agree it was a little annoying seeing Castillo laugh about it in the dugout.

      • jreis

        exactly! the laughing and giggling in the dugout is what hurt me the most in this game after that play. even more thane the loss. I mean next year we will likely be by far the youngest team in baseball with the likes of Trammel, Senzel, Siri and India on the team and we want them playing hard nosed baseball not the lackadaisical brand we have been used to recently. I think it is going to be harder to change the mentality on this club than people think

  5. Reddawg12

    It would appear that the bullpen is going to be a problem. Not good.

  6. TR

    Since last season, it’s obvious that something has changed with Raisel Iglesias. Giving up a walk, which often occurs, is not the way to shut the opposition down.

    • Doc

      With a WHIP of 1.95, it is much more than just giving up a walk. No one can survive at this level putting two men on base every inning, which explains an 0-3 record.

  7. FreeHouse

    Iggy the 2019 version of Coco Cordero!

  8. matt hendley

    The Reds took on one of the best pitchers in baseball and stood toe to toe with them. Castillo needs to get his control under control. Verge of Acedom is correct. He can still go either way. However, with the creme de la creme of umpires (Angel Hernandez) behind the plate, I am not quite sure I would view all his walks as his. I got the non-hit into RF. If it happens again it needs to be punished. I am fed up with Peraza. The guy is taking up space. Jose I. is making more plays at the 2b position than him. Needs to sit against RHP to see what Derek D can do, Extend Scooter, which should have been done last year. Puig is about to go nuts at the plate, that will be a ESPN moment for the rest of the month. Kemp coming though clutch as well. good job by both Peralta and Bobsteve. would start using them in similar situations along with situations AKA holds. Really hope Rasiel can get things under control before a more permanent situation has to be found. Another winnable game. Mahle v Meada tonight. Expect a more traditional lineup. meada is not Kershaw and i expect more runs tonight

    • doofus

      We think you want Scooter extended?

    • Reaganspad

      To quote jreis above, we are about to see Senzel, Trammell, Siri and India reach the big club. Not sure why we would extend Scooter.

      When he gets zero offers next year, you can sign him for peanuts and cracker jacks to fill out the bench if need be just like they got Dietrich this year

      • matthew hendley

        Senzel will be up this year. Trammell maybe late this year but could be as late as next year. India and Siri will not be up next year, maybe not the year after that. One has a swing and miss problem and the other is in A ball. Scooter is going to get offers reasonable ones as well. We will be stuck with nothing, except a arbitration eligible garbage heap that has no plate discipline, poor defense and limited power. (peraza) Senzel will be in center.

      • Old-school

        I don’t think it’s fair to compare Peraza for what he did at age 21-23 in MLB with what Gennett did at 27/28. Peraza is still just 24. I do share concerns about his defense at SS and his lack of walks/plate discipline. He’s now at Zero walks in 49 PA.

        Gennett at 21 was in high A ball. In Gennett’s age 25 season with the Brewers, he put up a wRC + of 78 and every year has had poor defensive numbers per Fangraphs x 2018. Both players have (1) career season above WAR of 2.2.

        Mike moustakis hit 37 HR in 2017 in his age 28 season- breaking the KC single season record. He signed a 1 year deal in 2018 for 6 million and another 1 year deal in 2019 for 10 million in his age 30 season. Front offices aren’t paying like they use to. I do hope scooter comes back and injects some offense to a team that really needs it.

  9. WVRedlegs

    Five walks by Castillo wasn’t very characteristic of his 2019 season so far. Iglesias blowing another game has been characteristic of his 2019 season. I expect Iglesias to go on the IL very soon. Bob Steve and Romano to close out games.

    • ohiojimw

      His 2019 walk rate was in the 11% range before last night. Last night pushed him up to 13.5% He’s got big time control issues right now.

      • Matt WI

        Yup. I give him due credit for limiting the damage, but getting to see him pitch… there were times he didn’t seem to know where the ball was going. He wasn’t “nibbling”… the ball was flying away from the strike-zone and the Dodgers were too smart to chase.

  10. SultanofSwaff

    Derek Johnson has yet to assert a positive influence on Iglesias so far, but something has to change because he’s the same guy as last year—too many walks and too many homers for an ‘elite’ closer. Here’s my 2 cents: stop throwing 4 different pitches from 3 different arm slots. If he wants to be that guy then he should’ve stayed a starter. I’ll say the same thing I said last year—he needs to pare down his repertoire.

    Instead, do 2 things really really well—locate the fastball and slider from one arm slot. The walks and home runs will go down. Sure, mix in the change when necessary, but he’s simply being clever for clever’s sake and it’s hurting the team.

    • VaRedsFan

      Agree with this. Could also be applied to Lorenzen too.

    • ToBeDetermined

      Sultan

      Great assessment.
      The guy considered the greatest relief pitcher of all time, in the hall of fame.
      And another guy pretty good (Bruce Sutter).
      Both of those guys basically threw 1 pitch.

  11. Shchi Cossack

    Analytics are excellent tools to use in order to tip the scales, but talent will dominate analytics EVERY SINGLE TIME! I’m a huge advocate for the use of analytics, but blind adherence to anything is counter productive.

    One constant in baseball every single season in every single era is that bullpens are fickle. No manager or pitching coach knows exactly what to expect from a reliever entering the game. If a pitcher is absolutely dominating a game (not to mention dominating every game) with no reason question his ability to continue that domination, you don’t pull him with a lead going into the 9th inning. That’s just sheer idiocy.

    With 2 outs, a tortoise-slow runner on 1B and the Reds leading by 1 run in the bottom of 9th inning, DB pulls Stephenson for a pinch hitter. Stephenson had thrown just 22 pitches over 2 dominating innings, retiring all 6 batters he faced and finishing with a ground out, ground out, ground out, strike out and strike out.

    His replacement comes out of the bullpen with a walk & walkoff HR.

    Robert Stephenson (9.1 IP):
    1.97 SIERRA; 249 xFIP; 0.89 FIP; 0.96 ERA
    37.5% K%; 3.1% BB%; 12.00 K/BB; 0.0 HR/9

    • Roger Garrett

      Good point on Bob Steve and you really had to see it coming in regards to Iggy.Three losses and he has given up at least 1 run in 4 of 6 appearances.I have noticed he seems to be trying to be cute rather then fastball/slider mix and well what’s the purpose of a hanging curve which is his third best pitch and maybe his fourth.Most if not all closers appear to be laid back to begin with but he seems to be more so even bordering on the whatever look.Castillo battled and I am not worried because this is his year and he will,just like all the rest have a stinker of a game here and there over the course of his 30+ starts.This was not a stinker just had a high pitch count but Hernandez is the worse ball/strike umpire in the game and the Dodgers are very very disciplined.Iggy got extended to be our closer and he isn’t getting it done so far.Maybe a change coming.

      • Joey

        I don’t know, he looked pretty ticked when he gave up that leadoff walk.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Roger

        Are we still calling him BobSteve ?
        This is a different pitcher we are seeing this year.
        I think his name is Robert Stephenson.
        🙂

      • matthew hendley

        whoa now, he has done real good for half a month…. needs to sustain it to get a name change. Lets take a look May 1st. Maybe we will just call him Robert

      • ToBeDetermined

        Matthew
        Fair enough.
        So right now maybe we can call him Rob.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      One aspect of Bell’s managing I have liked so far is that no player is beyond reproach. For example, Votto sitting last night against Kershaw. Some questioned it, but with the way Votto is currently (not) hitting, I saw the logic in getting a righthanded bat in there. I hope that this mindset will carry over to Raisel Iglesias. If he isn’t closing with regular success, give someone else a shot. As Cossack said above, Stephenson’s stuff and location are looking filthy. Amir Garrett has been impressive, as has Lorenzen. I’d try Iglesias in the seventh and eighth for awhile until he rights himself, and make the ninth inning a bullpen by committee of the others listed above, based on matchups.

      We can say the bullpen has been a weakness so far, but a bullpen ERA of 3.64 ranks tied for ninth in the majors with Tampa Bay. The biggest weakness of this team so far is the inability to score runs consistently.

      • Matthew Habel

        Win Probability Added by group:

        Position players: -2.21
        Starters: 0.95
        Relievers: -1.24

      • Roger Garrett

        You are correct Tom.We can talk about Iggy and the pen and Disco etc etc but if they had scored more when it counted(they all count) they easily could be10-5 rather then 5-10.Got to turn up the offense some how and some way.Bell seems to be a manager that won’t give guys a pass when they don’t perform and I like that because it should be all about now rather then last week or last year.

  12. MARK MOORE

    Frustration again. Hard to take even in April.

    • ToBeDetermined

      Mark
      But, still a very competitive game against a very good team.

  13. ohiojimw

    Another key leverage at bat by Curt Casali is getting lost in the backwash of Iggy’s meltdown.

    Casali needs to be playing more. However the dots need to be connected to make it happen, it needs to happen.

    Maybe a 60/40 split would help Barnhart avoid the doldrums he seems to experience over the course of the season??

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I agree. Casali has looked good both at bat and defensively since they acquired him last year. There are so few lefthanded starters in the NL Central that if it’s a straight platoon, Casali won’t see much time except for day games after night games.

      • ohiojimw

        Only because I used to have a soft spot for logical conspiracy theories, I sometimes wonder if Barnhart is being quietly shopped around.

        His team friendly contract could be the sweetener to help move Kemp in a mini blockbuster.

        Aside from Farmer, they still have Juan Graterol, a classic “3rd catcher” at AAA. So, they are plenty deep to consider moving TB.

  14. CFD3000

    Positives / Negatives:

    Plus: Puig, Casali, Kemp’s key opposite field hit, Castillo’s results, Lorenzen, Peralta, Stephenson.

    Minus: Castillo’s control / pitch count, Iglesias (again)
    Of these the only one that’s truly troubling is Iglesias. Runs allowed in 4 of 6 outings is really really bad. Most closers are good for something like an 85% save rate. Raisel’s results won’t translate to more than about a 50% save rate. That’s potentially disastrous. He either needs to right the ship or step aside very soon.

    Like you said, Matt – a fun game until it wasn’t.

  15. matthew hendley

    slightly good news. Belinger is not permanently damaged, but he will be day to day and unlikely to play tonight or tomorrow

  16. BartInLA

    I was at this game last night and a few thoughts:
    Jackie Robinson Day, many notables in the house, Scully, Robinson Family even jazz great Herbie Hancock spoke. All this and the stadium was nearly full despite a cold (for LA) Monday night in April.
    The ex-dodgers/now Reds were given a big screen tribute and standing ovations from all. I was sitting in Puig country up the RF line and the love for this guy was impressive, “we love you Puig” was a constant yell all through the game. Decision to start them paid off, as it was Puig and Kemp offensively who won the game for us. The game was ours until Inglesias gave it back with a walk and a bomb. The game was ours.
    Watching Puig make his way back to the dugout at the end was painful, he was so bummed. Walking slowly, head bowed, even with fans yelling appreciation. There was no one else left on the field and he was still just passing first base. I think he wanted so badly to win that game for his new team and old fans. Such a passionate dude, the wild horse. Reds are lucky to have this kid.
    With all the shifts, and outside the box thinking happening in baseball, why is the idea of “closer” still being clung to so tightly. Dodgers are in a similar situation with Jansen who has been in decline since last year and blew the hold last night before Iggy blew the save. Yet, they keep getting run out there even when you know what’s probably going to happen. Head scratching.
    Peraza is failing in every way. Lame at bats. Picked off at first and caught stealing. The other Inglesias should be starting at SS for his glove alone. Dietrich at second.
    Schebler is also doing much of nothing.
    Castillo not realizing he hit the ball was a joke, the whole stadium was nonplussed. No one seemed to be screaming at him to run, run!!! Yeah, he’s a pitcher but gets paid too much to brain fart like that.

    This was a game that we absolutely should have won and could have been a huge shot in the arm for the team and the new guys, as well as deflating for an old rival. Instead, Kershaw is hero again and Jansen’s blown hold is forgotten. Puig and Kemp denied a triumphant return.

    And so it goes…next game