Luis Castillo out-pitched Jon Lester in what could have been a three-game win streak against the Cubs. A seventh inning meltdown changed the narrative of this series quite a bit and brings back memories, though not nearly as painful, of the 7-run blown lead vs the Cardinals. Still a long way to go (46 games) so anything can happen, but it is shaping up to be a season of “what-ifs” for the Redlegs.

Pitching

Castillo went 6.2 innings and allowed seven hits. He was responsible for three earned runs, though the third came via a home run allowed by Michael Lorenzen. Castillo only allowed three base runners in the first five innings, one of which was a hit by Jon Lester. The Cubs strung two singles and a double together in the sixth to plate the first run, and David Bell sent his ace back out in the seventh with a very manageable pitch count and the bottom of the order coming up. After a leadoff double, two groundouts plated a run but set up bases empty with two outs for Castillo to finish the inning. A single to Jason Heyward was the last action Castillo would see in this one.

Michael Lorenzen only got to face two batters and allowed a single to Castellanos and a home run to Kris Bryant, making the score 5-3 Cubs. Amir Garrett closed out the inning against Rizzo but allowed another insurance run in the 8th on an Ian Happ home run. The Reds should probably trade for Happ because if he had 81 games at GABP he would probably have better numbers than Mike Trout.

Hitting

The offense got going in the 3rd inning, though hindsight really hurts looking back on a missed opportunity to score more. Senzel walked, stole second, and scored on a Votto double. Votto then scored on an Aquino single (really disappointing he couldn’t hit a home run. The Reds should probably send him down to AAA now). The inning ended on a well-hit ball by Peraza that was caught in right by a diving Castellanos. The ball had a 91% hit probability, and if it had fallen would have plated two more runs.

Eugenio Suarez collected his 33rd home run of the year with a 108 mph, 412 foot bomb to right center. He has been playing much better lately after a bit of a prolonged drought. Unfortunately, three runs is all the Reds could muster, with David Phelps, Rowan Wick and Pedro Strop combining for 4 innings of one hit, one walk, six strikeout baseball.

Other Notes

Kyle Farmer made a nice defensive play up the middle to get a speedy Javier Baez out at first. His offense has dropped below average after a hot start but it is hard to not love his defensive versatility.

Aristedes Aquino went 1-4 with an RBI single, a walk and a strikeout. That dropped his wRC+ from a 332 to a 309. Gonna be tough to sustain those numbers…

Ian Happ’s double in the seventh inning hit off the top of the yellow padding on the wall and bounced back into play, making that a live ball and not a home run. I did not know that so it was nice to learn something new today.

Up Next

The Reds head to our nation’s capital for a quick three game road trip against the second-place Nationals. The Nats just finished a nine game road trip where they went 5-4. Monday’s probables are Erick Fedde and Anthony Desclafani.

23 Responses

  1. MARK MOORE

    I had to Clete the game after the HR. Made me too #$@& sad.

    • Sliotar

      In this series, the Reds starting no. 1 and no. 2 hitters, Winker/Senzel and Votto ….

      4 for 30, 12 Ks

      The offense has been the problem consistently throughout the season…way worse the current struggles of the bullpen.

      If the Suarez and Aquino early-in-game HRs don’t show up, it will be a struggle to win, especially on the road.

      • Pete

        Sliotar I commend you in bringing good data to the table but occasionally you step on it and this is one of those times. I’m know Rosy Red, if they’re bad – than I have no problem saying they’re bad. The offense has been lousy for most of the season but not since June 26:

        MLB leaderboard:
        wRC+ = 6
        OPS = 5
        Runs = 10

        This is not a problem, this is an advantage. The “new” team is hitting and hitting well and I expect it to get better. Joey batting 2nd is officially an issue in my eyes, he is less than average on a team that has several above average hitters and he is one on the slowest men in MLB. It’s not a weak hitting team who needs a wRC+ of 96 batting second out of necessity. We need to have this discussion and we need it to be objective: no Joey love, no Joey hate.

      • Mason Red

        Despite your stats I think most person would call the offense of this team inconsistent at best.

      • Pete

        Converseley, BP numbers since June 26:

        xFIP: 25th
        ERA: 29th
        R: 24th
        HR: 27th
        BB: 22nd
        WHIP: 27th
        BA: 25th

        In one word: terrible. Two words: really terrible.

      • Pete

        Mason, “those” people are not using objective data, they are trusting their eyes. I don’t know about you but I don’t trust mine. Trust the data.

      • Don

        Pete,

        Agree with your analysis and numbers.

        Offense for last 2 months has been much above average. The starting pitching has gotten better but the all the innings of relief in very tight critical situations in the 1st half has a lot of dead arms in the bullpen.
        Front office is trying to make changes in the last week.

        Send down Peralta, DFA Hernandez.
        Sign Guasman and bring up Romano.

        Lorenzen was great against Trout early in the week in tight situations, he had two tough outings vs Cubs.
        He is not a lost cause. He will show up again at a big time and have success.

        Hopefully Mahle and Reed are close to healed and can add some arms to the bullpen that should be able to handle high leverage situations.

        Sims needs to step up.

        If either Reed or Mahle are ready, I could see FO, DFA Hughes.

      • Pete

        Don, I agree with your assessment. ML is still throwing as high as 99 mph. I certainly am not giving up on him. I see reinforcements coming up soon, hopefully sooner than later. I truly believe the FO will do everything they can to rectify the situation. The good news is RI has been very solid closing the door in the 9th. Fingers crossed, in my opinion everything else is in place to make a serious run.

      • Seadog

        I could not agree with Pete more. No hate for Joey. But, he has to be moved out of the 2 hole. It is obvious “Bell” has said. Joey this is your team. Just look at him giving the “umps” Hell today. David and Freddie listened/watched Votto. Bell has to get Votto under control for this team to go further/grow. I know Votto makes 10 times what Bell does. Does not matter. Move him down in the lineup. You are the “manager” not Votto. Take control

      • Steven Ross

        Joe Morgan mentioned it very early in the season when he was in the booth with Thom and Chris when asked about Votto’s struggles:

        where has he done the best hitting in his career? Batting 3rd. No way he should be batting 2nd.

        I agree. It’s time to move him down. Maybe even lower to 6th or 7th. He’s not the same this year.

  2. Klugo

    Thom had the right call on Lorenzen’s HR: “Unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE!”
    This bullpen is a mess. At some point you have to believe that it would be better to kick the stats and stick with your ace(s) a third or fourth time through, than hand it over to this bullpen.

  3. Jeff Morris

    Always hold your breath…when bullpen comes in now. Just like the Reds emphasize the starting pitching, and are bold in picking up free agents and trading to get starting pitchers, they need to do the same with the relief pitching AND a big bat in the outfield. Someone like Ryan Ludwick provided for them some years back. Until the Reds management realizes they need to be consistent and strong in not only starting pitching and relief pitching, and also get someone with a big bat in the outfield, and get someone with a big bat and/or high on base percentage at short stop, they will always always be behind the Cubs and Cardinals, and probably the Brewers.

    • Mason Red

      I agree 100%. Improving one area but ignoring others will keep the Reds near the bottom of the division.

    • Slicc50

      I think the front office realizes everything you just said. Let’s give them some time. To me, this front office is making much better decisions right now. It’s hard to take a team that was a train wreck the last 4-5 seasons and make them contenders over night. I think they have done as good of a job as any Reds fan could have hoped this year. I believe they will improve the bullpen and the lineup over the off-season. Next year, barring crazy injuries, the Reds will be a serious contender.

  4. Sidney

    With so many guys that can play multiple positions, I think they should send O’Grady down and and another pen arm for a little while. Maybe somebody can add a spark. Let’s face it – O’Grady is highly unlikely to see much playing time anyway unless it’s an extra innings situation.

    • Sliotar

      @Pete,

      Why use “since June 26” as the starting point?

      You do know that “since June 26″…. the Reds have played 25 home games and 13 road games, right?

      And, that entering today, GABP was the 6th-friendly park in MLB for Runs and HRs.

      http://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

      Coors Field East, indeed.

      • Don

        June 26th is date Ervin was called up this time and was used as a turning point for the outfields offense numbers.

        Puig finally starting hitting after taking most of the first 3 months off and Winker started hitting better as well since they had someone pushing them.

        Infield offense other than Suarez and Iglesias (up to June 24th when he was hitting 300) has pretty much been non existence as well.

      • Pete

        Okay road games only since June 26:

        wRC+: 7
        OPS: 6
        AVG: 5

        Runs don’t help in evaluation because of the inequity of away games from team-to-team in this time frame.

        Road series during the time frame:

        Angels (2)
        Rockies (3)
        Cubs (3)
        Brewers (3)
        Braves (3)

        Just want to make sure I’m firing at the right target. The offense could be better but since late June they have been well above league average, even on the road. Now I will say this: if your #2 hitter has a wRC+ of 96 and you find yourself batting a wRC+ of 66 in the fifth spot, you’re probably not maximizing production. The worst possible player to bat after AA is Peraza and they did it today. Inexplicable. But other hitters , far better hitters, were available to hit in that spot.

        I submit with the current bullpen staff, you can’t get enough hitting to offset its poor performance. I listed the numbers above for your review. Don’t use outdated tactics to fight the last war, this is a new one and it is fierce.

        FYI, today the Reds signed RP Junichi Tazawa as a free agent, he has spent parts of 9 seasons in MLB, he has been assigned to AA Chattanooga. The FO is trying and I’ll be shocked if we don’t see some new arms shortly.

        Good discussion and debate.

  5. Aaron B.

    Lorenzen’s problem is his ability to locate. I keep saying this and I will continue, those big burly arms are not typical of a pitcher. I believe it gives him the power to throw 99mph but he has sacrificed accuracy for strength. The other day you know he didn’t want to walk those two guys with a lead, but he couldn’t locate. Today he gets ahead and threw right over the heart of the plate. If a pitcher can’t locate he is really useless late in the game. Right now he is a middle/long reliever at best and his strength is his ability to play CF if Senzel needs a rest and being an extra PH in a slug fest type of game. It is disappointing. I think he should be traded in the off season if they aren’t going to use his bat more than they are.

    • VaRedsFan

      IMO Lorenzen’s problem is that he has so many secondary pitches that he keeps trying to force into his repertoire. Stick with the fastball, slider, and change up.

      I can’t confirm nor deny this, but it looks like he is tipping his offspeed pitches. He is max effort when firing the fastball (oftentimes grunting), and anything offspeed just looks different (not max effort.)…I will observe more closely going forward.