Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (70-81)
2 6 1
Chicago Cubs (82-68)
8 10 0
W: Mills (1-0) L: Gausman (3-9)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The Kevin Gausman-as-a-Reds-starter era got off to a rocky start tonight after allowing two singles and a Kyle Schwarber (Middletown alert) home run to put the good guys in an early 3-0 hole. He got a 1-2-3 inning in the 2nd against the bottom of the lineup and that was that. Gausman has been pretty good from the Cincinnati bullpen in 11 games, but tonight was not his best work.

Somewhat surprisingly, Cole Hamels was even worse tonight as he allowed five walks and a hit batter in 3.1 innings. The Reds were able to put two runs up, but they definitely missed a lot of opportunities. The first inning ended after an Aquino flyout and Casali strikeout with two runners on, and the third inning ended on a Michael Lorenzen strikeout with bases loaded, a Curt Casali walk producing the only run. It was the first time Hamels allowed a bases loaded walk since 2016. The Reds second run came in the fourth inning on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Phillip Ervin. Eugenio Suarez struck out to end the inning.

After Lucas Sims threw two scoreless innings and Matt Bowman produced a scoreless fifth, Amir Garrett faced three batters and allowed a single, HBP and double. Joel Kuhnel relieved him and allowed another run on a single by Ben Zobrist, pushing the score to 5-2 (both runs credited to Garrett). Rubin Alaniz came on in the seventh and pitched well. He struck out Bryant, got Schwarber to ground out and then struck out Contreras. The eighth didn’t go as well, as he allowed a walk and a single and then hurt himself with a throwing error that scored a run. Jimmy Herget came on and gave up a walk to Lucroy and a double to Castellanos (his league leading 55th of the season) to extend to the lead to 8-2. That would be the final score.

Other game notes:

Alex Blandino hit the ball well tonight. He got unlucky in the 1st as Jason Heyward made a nice catch in centerfield on a 104.6 mph, 386 foot line drive. He also had a single that was hit at 107.3 mph.

The Reds showed good patience early against Hamels who clearly did not have it. It was only the 8th game of the year with seven or more team walks.

Aristedes Aquino has really cooled off and left some key runners on base. He is down to a 121 wRC+ on the year.

Jose Peraza was the only Reds player to collect multiple hits. He was also thrown out stealing.

The Cardinals and Brewers both won tonight as well so no games won or lost in the NL Central. The Cubs remain 2 games back and the Brewers 3 games back. With Washington losing to St. Louis, the two NL Wild Card spots are separated by just 1.5 games among three teams (Nationals, Cubs, Brewers).

32 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    Matthew, nice write-up.

    The Middletown meme is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Gausman did not have it tonight, but….

    -He was going against a Cubs team fighting for its playoff life, and some possibly for their jobs, including the manager, whose contract ends in 2 weeks.

    -He joined the Reds less than 6 weeks ago.

    If he is retained, it feels likely that the Reds feel a bump in performance coming with a full Spring Training with Derek Johnson and a more defined role with the club.

    It would basically be Tanner Roark, in terms of performance projection, but with bullpen flexibility, 3 years younger, high K% and no trading of a prospect to land.

    • VaRedsFan

      I feel the opposite.
      It was a chance for Gausman to go out and prove something against a good team (minus Baez and Rizzo), and he failed. At 9 million next year, I would pass.

      • AirborneJayJay

        VRF, that is $9.35MM this year for Gausman. His last year of arbitration next year could be in the area of $11MM to $12MM. If he is a bullpen guy that is elite money for a set up man. Elite money. Not worth it from the Reds standpoint. And it is a tick above what Sonny Gray signed for last year. Again not worth it.
        I agree with you though, pass.
        If they want to spend that kind of money in the bullpen, just go get Will Smith. What would Will Smith be worth in just the Win/Loss column?? He probably doesn’t lose 11 games like Iglesias.

  2. Sliotar

    It’s not that I am necessarily a huge fan of Gausman… though his swing-and-miss potential isn’t common.

    I think the organization has realized that free agents pitchers aren’t going to choose the Reds.

    Gray/Roark/Bauer/Castillo….all trades.

    Plus, beyond 2020, if Bauer leaves, the Reds still need established SPs to fill out the rotation until the Santillan/Greene/Lodolo wave is ready to break through.

    • Doug Gray

      “Free agent pitchers aren’t going to choose the Reds”

      While we don’t know what they’ve offered guys, the Reds largest free agent contract ever was less than $50M. And it was over a decade ago. Their second largest one ever? $24.5M to Eric Milton 15 years ago.

      Maybe it’s not the pitchers not choosing Cincinnati. Maybe it’s the owners not choosing to spend money in free agency.

      • george

        It may be that Free agent players have told their agents that if the Reds come calling just quote them a very large number. I would think that most agents know that the Reds don’t do free agency as a rule so the bigger the number the less interest the Reds will have. I would think that agents are all aware of the Reds financial approach and also realize that if their player would get a large salary from the Reds that he better to be ready as a hitter to have a .340ba, 115 rbi, and a +.725OPS. and as a pitcher to win 17-20 games, pitch +200 innings, with at least an 2.95era, and will not have any other strong pitchers on the staff with a .500 record, so wining the Series would be out of the question.
        Bad season, too many hard losses, and no future in sight. I am done in.

      • Doug Gray

        If this is the case and it means you aren’t even going to try the Reds should just fold up shop.

      • Curt

        I think the answer is equally both. They don’t want to play for the Reds and they don’t want to spend the money. Double the problem. If they did decide to spend the money, chances are good the player doesn’t want to play for them so they would have to “overpay” or (getting in to George’s point) they would have to pay whatever ridiculous amount the starting bid is, which (if you consider last years FA’s) even the wealthy teams thought too high. They’d end up being the team that payed the crazy asking price and the expectations are then astronomical etc etc. Only way around this is if by some lucky chance a FA has a connection to the club either through the team or the city itself like Griffey Jr. then they might catch a break. Good luck there.

      • Pete

        Curt, excellent points. How many quality FA’s are wanting to sign with KC, Baltimore or Detroit? The number is somewhere near zero. If a player is shown no interest in the good teams, Reds will have their opportunity but most likely overpay. Case in point: Yasiel Puig, wRC+ of 95. He’s a great fit and probably only cost $13-15M/year.

        IMO, bottom line, the Reds must develop their own talent whether it’s to cash in with the big league club or as trade bait. I don’t see anyway around it.

        Is Turner Ward working with JVM and Aquino? I did see Freddy Galvis consulting with Ward at the beginning of his slide, I was concerned at the time. I don’t want to see Ward talking to any of the players – it’s come to this. I don’t trust him. He’s probably working his magic with Barnhart too.

  3. RedNat

    Blandino is starting to grow on me a little bit. Can her play SS? He looks like he has the athleticism to play the position.

    • VaRedsFan

      Batting .240 and slugging .280 doesn’t excite me one bit
      Last year before the injury batted .244 and slugged .289.

      He does take a few walks, but that is offset by all of the 3rd strikes that he takes.

  4. RedNat

    I would rather have seen Gray tonight In the opener versus the cubs and Castillo pitching game 3 of the series. I have a feeling the FO did this for a reason although I haven’t figure it out yet. just kind of fishy that Gausman only pitched 2 innings. maybe they want to Give Castillo one more home game?

    • jim walker

      I agree. When I saw the Reds had tricked with the rotation to put Gausman and Mahle against in against the Cubs, I pretty much tuned out on them.

      I suppose if pushed on the matter the Reds would claim they were being neutral by sending the same three in the same order against the Brewers at home next week. But it is malodorous to me not to be going after the Stupid Cubs with their 2 best starters.

  5. TR

    I agree with Doug in regard to free agents considering and coming to Cincinnati. It’s a question of money. I think many ballplayers like playing and living in Cincy and the metro area. I’d call it one of the premiere big/small towns of America.

  6. VaRedsFan

    Is Amir Garrett turning into Wandy Peralta 2.0?

  7. Still a Red

    Did I miss something. Where was Joey last night? Why replace Josh Van Meter after one at bat and replace him with Dietrich? Why pitch Gausman only two innings, once through the line-up? Of course, the Reds are hobbling right now.

    Could really have used a Suarez grand slam in the 4th. He was brushed back 3 pitches in a row, one up by his chin, and the Cubs came back with a curve thrown at him, breaking over the middle, froze him. Aggressive pitching by the Cubs.

    • Chris Holbert

      If they walk Suarez, no one else rally scares them.

    • Big Ed

      Votto was ill, according to the telecast. Sounds like a stomach bug has bounced through the team.

      • Pete

        I just wonder if JV’s bug is in his upper back. We’ll know soon enough.

    • VaRedsFan

      JVM was sick, but also had to leave due to family emergency

      • Pete

        This is weird. What are the chances? One-in-a-million or not at all. Smells fishy to me.

      • Matt WI

        What’s so weird? I don’t know his situation- but maybe a parent had a heart attack, a spouse is pregnant and having problems. Car accidents. Things happen.

      • Doug Gray

        Jeeze, Pete, seriously? Not everything is some vast conspiracy theory man.

        From Josh VanMeter’s agent just now:
        “Josh and his family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support by the Reds community in light of last night’s events. His longtime girlfriend’s father, who was in attendance at the game at Wrigley field, suffered a substantial seizure and was rushed to the hospital. Josh and the Reds were advised of the situation by Cubs game personnel. Continued thoughts and prayers are sincerely appreciated.”

  8. Chris Holbert

    I am a Lorenzen guy, and like his dual status. However, he has regressed since college with hitting, because of concentrating on pitching, but is still an above average hitting pitcher. Starting him in CF, has provided steady defense and nothing else. Even with O’Grady being LH, I would venture to say he would have been on base, during the last three games. The Reds need to decide if he is going to pitch or hit. He cannot do either well enough without concentrating on one.

    • BK

      The Reds decided long ago that they preferred Lorenzen as a pitcher. I think the Reds are doing two things:

      – Lorenzen is the best defensive CF on the team and filling a need with Senzel injured.
      – working to establish Lorenzen as a “two-way” player in preparation for new roster rules in 2020. This could provide them with roster flexibility throughout the season…a potential competitive advantage.

      I doubt Lorenzen has regressed as a hitter since college, but he his facing better pitching. Never place too much weight on such a small sample size such as three consecutive starts … Lorenzen was a .292 hitter prior to those starts—we really don’t know how he would do with more at bats.

    • jim walker

      Lorenzen’s PA with the bases loaded was hands down the worst effort I’ve seen from him at the plate or on the mound. Wondering if he also was borderline ill because he looked like he didn’t even want to be at the plate; and, that’s not him.

      • BK

        The body of work suggests Lorenzen doesn’t have an “effort” problem.

      • jim walker

        @BK
        I agree totally. That’s why I was questioning what was going on with Lorenzen last night.

        In the next half inning or so there was a Cubs single into left center. ML was just sort of loafing in after it; and, Ervin came charging across to grab it and get it back in to make sure the guy didn’t go for 2B.

        As you said, that is not typical Michael Lorenzen,

  9. Big Ed

    Gausman threw the pitch on which Schwarber homered exactly at the target Casali gave him. I noticed it at the time, because he had just hit the exact target on a previous pitch. Gausman threw it, so it’s his fault that it was in the center of the plate, but Casali’s target didn’t help much.

    He did not have the velocity he had shown in his prior Reds appearances. He didn’t hit 93 mph on any of his 8 fastballs prior to Schwarber, then threw 93.8, 94, 94.5, a splitter, and then a straight-looking 95 on the homer. Maybe he was a tad hyped up for his start, or maybe it was just an off day, or maybe he was holding back in anticipation of throwing maybe 4-5 innings. He did retire the final 5 guys that he faced.

    The Reds aren’t going to judge him on the one pitch to Schwarber.

    • jim walker

      Can’t say with certainty what was going on with the pitch Schwarber blasted; but, it is not unusual when a runner is on 2B for the catcher to set up in a neutral position as described to keep from tipping planned pitch location. Typically it is then up to the pitcher to pick a target using some point on the catcher’s body.

      One thing I do think for sure was that the ball was never intended to be thrown where it was. Most likely it was supposed to start on the inner third and run in or outer third and run away. Or if Gausman ever throws a sinker or splitter it was supposed to have started a little lower and gotten a lot lower as it ran across the plate. Whatever, it ended up just flat out grooved.