In defense of the Reds’ defense

When this season started, the expectations for the Cincinnati Reds defense were not high. The loss of a perennial Gold-Glove contender, center fielder Billy Hamilton, appeared to leave this team’s defense significantly weaker up the middle, where neither shortstop Jose Peraza nor second baseman Scooter Gennett are known as standouts at those respective positions.

The first approximately quarter of the 2019 season has produced many surprises for this team, both positive and negative. The performance of the defense would have to be classified as a positive surprise.

For example, in rankings among the major league teams, the Reds are:

  • tied for 6th in fewest errors committed with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks (20)
  • 6th overall in double plays turned (42)
  • tied for 15th in stolen base percentage allowed (.724)
  • tied for 5th in fewest passed balls (2)
  • 1st overall in fewest wild pitches (7; presumably this is listed as a defensive statistic to measure how effectively catchers block pitches in the dirt)
  • tied for 3rd in fielding percentage (.988, a number matched by four other teams)
  • 17th in defensive efficiency ratio (.696)

Defensive Efficiency Ratio is a statistic used to evaluate team defense by finding out the rate of times batters reach base on balls put in play. The formula for Defensive Efficiency Ratio is: 1 – ((H + ROE – HR) / (PA – BB – SO – HBP – HR)). Depending on who you ask, that might be the most telling statistic of the bunch. But based on what the expectations were for this defense prior to the season, rating in the middle of the pack is a very pleasant surprise.

The insertion of Jose Iglesias as the everyday shortstop has made a big difference, as has the stablization of center field — a position at which Jesse Winker (he of the -4 Outs Above Average metric for outfield defense) was at times being asked to defend. Now Nick Senzel has stepped in as the everyday starter in center. Honestly, he has looked average at best defensively, but he has the potential to grow into the position and develop. He’s certainly a better center fielder in all phases of the game than anyone else on the major league roster at the moment.

Winners of five of their last seven, the Reds open a three-game home series against the team with the best record in the National League, the Dodgers (29-16), tonight at Great American Ball Park. Winning two of three from the first-place Cubs provides some hope for the fan base and hopefully some confidence for the team. Taking at least two of three from the Dodgers would keep the positive momentum growing. Game time is 7:10 p.m. Eastern time.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Rich Hill 15 4.20 4.59 21.2% 4.6%
Anthony DeSclafani 41 4.17 4.25 26.4% 8.1%

Statistically speaking, this looks like a very even pitching matchup. Hill is a lefthander, one of two the Reds will face in the three-game series (neither of whom is named Kershaw, by the way). Hill has a history of pitching effectively when healthy, but the healthy part has been a challenge for him over his 14-year career. Hill began this season on the injured list, and has started only three games in 2019 as a result. In DeSclafani’s last two starts, both against San Francisco, he allowed seven earned runs in 10 innings, so he’ll be looking to right the ship tonight.

Bullpen

It has become clear that the bullpen is going to be counted on to pitch at least three to four innings per game for the Reds on a daily basis. Manager David Bell has a clear strategy of not allowing his starting pitcher to get too far into the third time through the opposing batting order — unless of course that pitcher is dominating. To help with this high level of bullpen use, Cincinnati has for the second time this month recalled lefthander Cody Reed from Louisville:

Six of the 13 position players on the Los Angeles roster bat lefthanded, so it makes sense that having four lefthanders in the bullpen could be useful in this particular series.

VanMeter started two games during his two weeks with the team, while primarily pinch-hitting and being used in double-switches. But he showed no signs of the hot bat he had at Louisville, probably due to lack of use.

We may not see Raisel Iglesias tonight, after 1.2 and 1 inning outings the past two nights. David Hernandez and Amir Garrett have both also pitched back-to-back nights, with an asterisk by Garrett’s name because he only threw one pitch Wednesday evening. Reed will certainly be the man called upon if long relief is needed tonight.

Starting Lineups

Dodgers Reds
LF Joc Pederson CF Nick Senzel
1B Max Muncy 1B Joey Votto
3B Justin Turner 3B Eugenio Suarez
RF Cody Bellinger RF Yasiel Puig
SS Corey Seager SS Jose Iglesias
CF Alex Verdugo 2B Kyle Farmer
2B Enrique Hernandez C Curt Casali
C Austin Barnes LF Jose Peraza
P Rich Hill P Anthony DeSclafani

It appears that, at least for the moment, Winker is a platoon player. Against lefties this year, Winker is 2-for-18 (.111) with three walks and no extra-base hits. He also struggled last year vs. lefthanders, 12-for-57 (.211).

Without VanMeter, the Reds are down to a three-position-player bench: Winker, Derek Dietrich and Tucker Barnhart.

Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at BaseballSavant.com.

News and Notes

Jonathan India getting hot in Dayton …

From the “It’s time to break this streak” file …

For your pre-game viewing pleasure …

and for EVEN MORE, check this out.

92 Responses

  1. Old-school

    5-9 hitters are Iglesias, farmer, Casali, Peraza,P. Once Disco needs pinch hit, there goes Dietrich. Barnhart wont play unless extra innings which means Winker gets 1 at bat all game for the bench to help win a situation and a lefty will surely arrive then from the bullpen. A few pitching changes in the 6-8th innings allows the Dodgers bullpen to exhaust any advantage from this 3 man bench and all righty lineup. Then Kenley Jansen is set up to face a weak righty lineup 5-8 if the game is close. Better score 5-6 early.

    Reply
  2. Sliotar

    Funny you mention “score 5-6 early”, Old-School.

    Courtesy of Rotogrinders, the over/under on runs tonight is 10 (high for any non-Coors Field game).

    Expected runs:
    LA – 5.34
    Cin- 4.66

    “Even pitching match-up” looks like evenly bad, based on those numbers.

    Go Redlegs.

    Reply
  3. Sliotar

    Tom wrote (nice set-up, by the way)… “It appears that, at least for the moment, Winker is a platoon player.”

    It is situations like this that have me shake my head, write things about the botched re-build, and get called by some a “troll.”

    Virtually every commentor here over the last 4 years agreed that Winker-Senzel was the foundation of the Next Good Reds Team in the early 2020s.

    Winker could finish 2019 with only 4 years of control left, as of now, and not even being playing everyday.

    Instead, Puig…with the wRC+ of 62 and the -0.2 WAR can’t miss a start.

    Why? So the 2019 Reds, with some old guys on expiring deals, can avoid losing 90 games for the fifth straight season?

    I would like this club to be well-run… good processes usually lead to good outcomes.
    Not sure we are seeing anything other than a short-term, day-by-day, scramble.

    Reply
    • Pete

      Winker can’t hit the broadside of a barn right now. If Jesse can’t hit left-handed pitching, he will be in a platoon and it will be the smart move. We are not there yet but the early returns are not favorable.

      Reply
      • matthew hendley

        Agreed, The days of giving away at bats to substandard hitters (whether totally, or in a platoon fashion) need to stop. Prove you can hit when you get chances. Winker looked lost against the LHP relievers. Maybe its just a day off. This team was supposed to be completive in 2018. Its 2019. Reds fandom will not tolerate the ‘forever rebuild’. If you need to give a player AB to ‘help them develop’ then those at bats need to be with the Bats.
        Really glad we get to skip Kershaw.

      • Old-school

        So you are saying Jose Peraza in LF deserves to start over Jesse Winker?

      • matthew hendley

        Perhaps a better hitting RHB in LF is also needed. Kemp 18 stats. (do not read this as asking to bring kemp back, just someone equivalent to his first 2 months). Peraza is the best option available at this time.

    • Roger Garrett

      Good points and let me throw in that it appears he is now platooning with Peraza.Who is now in year 4 with over 1500 at bats vs Winker and his 500 at bats.Yet we still are trying to figure out if Peraza can or has turned the corner.Seems to me like we had another fast guy that hung around for 5 years while we waited to see if he had turned the corner.I like Peraza but he should be at second against lefties and spell Iggy at short and not take at bats away from Winker. If his hitting picks up then let him man second base.Just silly because while I hope he has a great game it should not be in the place of Winker at any time.

      Reply
      • Pete

        For the moment, Jesse is on auto out. I don’t think the platoon is long term and I expect to see him back in there tomorrow against the right hander. As long as Jose keeps up his current hot streak, I see no reason to take him away from the platoon at this time. Winning game should be the only goal at this point. If and when the Reds are out of reasonable contention, then we can play for the future.

  4. JB WV

    Hump game. Another chance to get 3 under. Sounds like a modest achievement but needs to be done. Go Reds!!!

    Reply
      • WVRedlegs

        Armed Forces Day is Saturday. That would be my guess but I haven’t heard.

      • matthew hendley

        might be right…. I think there is another Old Uniforms day tomorrow, 1919 if I remember correctly.

      • Scott C

        Thanks! That is probably the reason. At least she is satisfied.

  5. Indy Red Man

    Had to pull the trigger and get the kid on my fantasy team to join Castillo and Puig.

    Traded Trea Turner for Senzel and SP-Chris Bassitt (1.93 era). TT is going to run alot more then Nick, but Nick should hit more HRs.

    Reply
  6. VaRedsFan

    Any flyball between the pitcher’s mound and the warning track…..
    Thom: “Straight up in the air”

    Reply
  7. Seat101

    Do the advanced shifting techniques have any affect on defensive ratings? If one team is better than another at figuring out the proper shift will that show up in defensive metrics?

    Reply
  8. Indy Red Man

    I think if you put Disco in SF or Oakland then he’d have a 3.30 era. As a flyball pitcher how many times does he get burned by cheap HRs in gabp? He’s got B+ stuff

    Reply
  9. VaRedsFan

    Please stop throwing low fastballs to these lefties

    Reply
    • Indy Red Man

      This is a blog. For sports fans. Complaining about complainers = watching the Kardashians and complaining about narcissists.

      Reply
      • Seat101

        It’s just you are so happy to complain. It’s like you don’t understand baseball iad a game where both teams score more often than not. And the players are not perfect.

        It’s like you’re here to complain and you’re not really baseball fans.

        Thanks for responding, though

    • Indy Red Man

      I give compliments. I’m positive at times. Its the best I can do when they lose 90 every year and then start off 1-8

      Reply
  10. VaRedsFan

    3 in a row…low fastballs…
    I’ll stop with these obvious comments at the risk of sounding redundant.

    Reply
    • Indy Red Man

      To be fair the HR was a hanging breaking ball down-n-in.

      Reply
  11. matthew hendley

    I thought we took the Dodgers hitting coach so we would hit and they wouldn’t?

    Reply
      • Curt

        I’m pretty sure at this point whatever Turner Ward is telling them, they’re not listening.

      • matthew hendley

        The Question is, not if but when the reds fire Turner Ward. Examples need to be made

  12. Seat101

    More than 25% of the pitches to Reds batters went to JI.

    Reply
  13. matthew hendley

    Cody Reed should be in shortly, Hindsight being 20/20 and all but perhaps a spot start might have been in order

    Reply
  14. VaRedsFan

    Welp….they are hitting anything and everything out of the yard

    Reply
  15. Indy Red Man

    Wow. Its like that night in Comiskey when they trashed Disco. I’ll say it again….put Lorenzen in the rotation. He keeps the ball in the park. He’s got better stuff then Disco, Mahle, and Roark. Probably Gray too, but they’ve paid Gray already.

    Reply
  16. Old-school

    Dodgers are very good. Disco needs sorting for a second contract. I don’t think he’s anything but a cheap #5.

    They need a top lefty starter to pair with Castillo ..

    The Bell right lineup with Votto at .130 isn’t working.

    Reply
    • matthew hendley

      You know there is this good pitcher that fits your description…. his name is Alex Wood…..

      Reply
      • Old-school

        Yup. A shame he can’t pitch in his one year $10 million year.

      • matthew hendley

        yea…. that’s why we should try a 1 year 5/15 contract extension. (that’s 5 Mil guaranteed with 15 total with incentives. To prevent paying for innings we don’t get)

    • Indy Red Man

      Homer was struggling then got his $100 mil partly because he dumped his hanging curve for a splitter vs lefties. A pitcher needs big hands to throw the split so maybe thats not an option for Disco? I don’t know, but if he could neutralize lefties better then he might be a decent #3 or #4….maybe a 3.95 era type?

      Reply
  17. Pete

    Can’t sweep the Dodgers unless we win the first game. Time to start clawing our way back into it.

    Reply
  18. VaRedsFan

    Reed is warming….I’d rather go ahead and waste Duke in this game.
    I guess DB thinks 4-0 is not insurmountable at this time

    Reply
      • VaRedsFan

        4-0 is still winnable…agree. I’d really like to see it

  19. Indy Red Man

    Something tells me if Tampa played the Dodgers and Snell wasn’t available, then they’d start a couple of lefty relievers for 1-2 innings. In theory the RHP comes in against the bottom of the lineup and gets warmed up a little before the LH thunder rolls around again. It really is ingenius imo

    Reply
  20. matthew hendley

    Joey breaks up Perfect game, no hitter. 6 game hitting streak. Suarez right behind him. Maybe Hill delivery to the plate is so weird that they all needed to see him first.

    Reply
  21. Indy Red Man

    What in the world? Puig completely smoked by 91-92? He’s got to be better then this?

    Reply
    • Pete

      Can’t hit a high fastball to save his life, either lay off them or shorten his stroke.

      Reply
      • VaRedsFan

        High fastballs need to be driven the other way.

      • Indy Red Man

        2 of them were strikes in the upper part of the zone. Thats a problem

  22. VaRedsFan

    New contest….if you strike out twice in a game, you have to dye your hair back to original color

    Reply
  23. Pete

    A journey of a 1000 miles starts with one step. Okay, Hill is hitable.

    Reply
  24. Roger Garrett

    Major league hitters at every spot in the line up.Reds don’t have that so its tough.One day we will have that which is a must in GABP.Just have to build the team to outscore the other guys.

    Reply
  25. Indy Red Man

    Pull Reed now and start him tomorrow night for 1-2 innings. Garrett starts Sunday.

    I like to follow teams like Tampa or Minnesota and see what they’re doing and how the Reds could incorporate some of that.

    For example….lefty Martin Perez w/the Twins is 5-1 with a 3.16 era (46 Ks in 46 ip). Last year he had a 6.22 era in 85 ip with 52 Ks. All just a mechanical change that increased his velocity. Perez is 28. Lefties do take longer to develop. I don’t think Alex Wood is hanging around next year? They need to find a lefty starter somewhere for a series like this. Maybe Reed could be a decent long man/spot starter?

    Reply
  26. VaRedsFan

    Suarez yanks the Dodger cap off the kid in the stands

    Reply
  27. matthew hendley

    OK well, can we at least salvage a 4 game Pizza streak? 6 so far.

    Reply
  28. WVRedlegs

    Correct my math if I am wrong. Please. They say that 1.0 WAR is worth about $8MM or so. 25% of the season is in the books. Yasiel Puig makes $1.6MM per month, or $9.7MM for the season. So after 11/2 months that is about $2.4MM paid to date. And to date Yasiel Puig has produced a -0.2 fWAR, or about a -$1.6MM. Between what Puig has been paid and what he has produced, it appears to be a negative $3.8MM value given the Reds for 1/4 of a season. So Puig is on pace to produce a negative $15.2MM value to the Reds this year. Awesome.

    Reply
    • Indy Red Man

      Well Puig is not a April/May performer….sub .700 ops. Hopefully he’ll get it going, but he doesn’t look good? I’m 52 and I look better then Rich Hill. He looks like he’s worked in a coal mine and still threw 3 heaters right past Puig?

      Reply
  29. VaRedsFan

    2 good innings by Reed despite the run scoring…nothing hard hit at all

    Reply
  30. Roger Garrett

    Not a fair fight against the Dodgers if we don’t hit.Might be best just to put Duke in and see how many they could score.Waive the white flag and move on to tomorrow.

    Reply
  31. Indy Red Man

    12 hits last night. Its like coming home to a woman thats in a good mood. Enjoy it because it won’t happen often. See you tomorrow

    Reply
  32. Pete

    I realize many folks around here don’t care for Marty B. but he would never utter, “Tucker Branhart is struggling a little bit”. 2 for his last 41 AB’s. Marty’s aire apparent Tommy Thrall said this last inning. God, I’d hate to see what regular struggling looks like let alone really struggling.

    Reply
  33. Roger Garrett

    Duke is in and the flag of surrender has been waved.Its ok we may get far enough behind to get some cookies to hit and actually score.

    Reply
  34. Old-school

    It’s time to realize the Reds are not going to beat good teams. The Cubs series was good but they are struggling with $300 million in over pays to 2 players and a all star injured at 1b.

    The Dodgers are good. Puig is fun but not getting it done . Votto is a 1.7 WAR player. Both make $35 million.
    It’s embarrassing for Bell to start this lineup. If Winker sits behind Peraza in LF… Well… This rebuild is stick in the muck.

    David bell thinks he can analyze a win over the dodgers with this lineup tonight??? Count me out.

    Reply
    • Roger Garrett

      I agree especially on Winker.That is a joke.Quit messing with Winker and let him play.All ready being platooned with Peraza.Thought that silly stuff went out the door when Kemp was released.

      Reply
  35. Pete

    It’s getting late time to put some hits together and get a rally going. Hill is out of there!

    Reply
  36. Roger Garrett

    Please give Duke another inning.We just have to get some cookies.

    Reply
  37. Pete

    Is Bellinger the second coming of Ted Williams? Can’t recall a better start to a season than what he’s doing.

    Reply
  38. Hanawi

    How many flyouts to the LF does Votto have in the past week? Seems like every other at-bat has ended that way. Really think he’s been pushing to improve on the 12 HRs and is going to far the other way. Maybe Ward and his launch angle teaching having an impact as well?

    Reply
  39. Burtgummer

    If this holds it’ll be shutout number 7 last year they were shutout 6 at the all star break
    Hearing Bell say you have to rip your cap to the opposing pitcher has gotten old quickly

    Reply
  40. Old-school

    Late innings and David bell failed with all righty starting lineup now facing dodgers bullpen righties.
    Who woulda thunk AAAA bench players couldn’t hit dodgers lefty starter or Dodgers bullpen righties?

    Winker and Dietrich sitting the bench. Votto hitting .125 against lefties yet starting. This lineup couldn’t beat the dodgers 1 time in 10 games.

    Reply
  41. matthew hendley

    disgusting swing by peraza, looked like he was trying to get into the PGA championship rather then in a baseball game. Looks like yesterdays HR was a fluke.

    Reply
      • matthew hendley

        any and every excuse not to option him.

      • Old-school

        Wait a minute …you’ve said all year long he was “trash” abd every other awful name calling… But tonight you said he deserved to start in LF over Winker. Which one is it?

      • matthew hendley

        I said best option avalible. News flash, Winker is sucking against LHP. At minimum he needs a day (with RHP tomorrow its just a day) to reset himself. We have no other options after that. Peraza is obviously not an OF, and is only there cause of his handedness. Once Winker corrects, the statement will no longer be accurate.
        I am so glad we dumped the 14 million dollar matt kemp so we could have 3 weeks of a superstar AAA player that got us *checks notes* 2 hits and a walk.
        Unless I have missed something and he is out of options, Peraza needs some time in AAA.

      • PhP

        Kemp was playing terrible. No one has picked him up yet correct? You were wrong about Kemp. It’s ok to be wrong.

      • matthew hendley

        1. Kemp has broken ribs, That’s why no one has picked him up. CLV was talking with Cincinnati about getting him before he was released.
        2. I am not talking about retaining kemp. When released, DW said, ‘we had a plan and Matt (kemp) wasn’t a part of it.’ I am positive that plan wasn’t peraza in LF. Therefore DW had no plan. That’s what I am upset about.

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