Final R H E
Chicago Cubs (4-1)
8 12 1
Cincinnati Reds (1-4)
5 6 0
W: Mills (1-0) L: Reed (0-1)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The Cincinnati Reds’ bats continued their early-season slumber tonight, as the team recorded only six hits against a replacement Chicago Cubs starter and a bullpen that prior to tonight has been consistently raked over the coals. The 8-5 loss to Chicago, Cincinnati’s fourth straight, dropped the Reds to 1-4 in a 60-game season in which avoiding a bad start was seen as critical to any team’s hopes of success.

It’s very difficult for many diehard Cincinnati fans, myself included, to avoid the feeling of “here we go again.” David Bell knows that frustration is building, as was evident in his post-game meeting with the media:

TV analyst Chris Welsh mentioned after the final pitch that he believes the Reds look distracted by something. He was not specific as to what, though a good guess would be the situation with the COVID outbreak with the Miami Marlins which has resulted in 15 of the 30 members of the roster testing positive for the virus. All of the team’s games have been postponed through Sunday.

If that is indeed the case, you can certainly understand the concern. But clearly the Cubs, if also concerned, are playing as though they are blocking all of that out when they are on the field and in the batter’s box.

It is very easy to overreact to the very slow start of a team we all hoped would be a top contender. We all have very high hopes for this team, and this is certainly not the time to believe all is lost. The best starting pitching threesome in the majors will begin its second turn through the rotation Wednesday, and that, if nothing else, is a reason for hope. When you have Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer back to back to back, a three-game winning streak is possible at any time.

The Offense

Cincinnati’s first two runs came thanks to this Castellanos blast. He was the only Reds batter with more than one hit tonight.

Then, Curt Casali launched one against reliever Casey Sadler in the eighth to bring his team within 6-3:

And Freddy Galvis finished out the scoring in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run shot off Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera:

Eugenio Suarez hit a bloop double down the right field line in the ninth inning for his first hit of the season, which will hopefully help him break out of his slump.

The Cubs also pounded three homers, two by Javier Baez.

The Pitching

Tyler Mahle pitched decently in his spot start as a replacement for Anthony DeSclafani. Four innings, six hits, four strikeouts, two runs.

But the bullpen coughed up any chance the home team had at a victory by allowing at least one run in innings five through nine. Overall, Reds pitching including Mahle held the Cubs scoreless only in innings one and two. Among five relievers, only Pedro Strop was unscored upon in two-thirds of an inning.

Regarding the bullpen: There are some new faces and some players who were being counted on as crunch-time pitchers who have yet to display the skill levels that the backs of their baseball cards say they have. David Bell and Derek Johnson have to find out quickly who will perform in the clutch and who won’t. Hopefully with the “big three” starters going the next three days, Bell can rely on each of them for six or seven good innings and then maybe Amir Garrett, Strop and Raisel Iglesias to close things out.

Notes Worth Noting

The Reds are the first team in major league history to strike out at least 10 batters in each of the team’s first five games.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs vs Cincinnati Reds

Wednesday, July 29th, 6:40 pm ET

Kyle Hendricks (0.00 ERA, 1-0) vs Sonny Gray (1.50 ERA, 1-0)

44 Responses

  1. jessecuster44

    This team STINKS. It’s like they bought into the hype and are just going thru the motions.

    Releasing Lorenzen and Firing Bell would do wonders.

    • hokiebo

      Probably an overreaction….But, I am right there with you tonight. What a frustrating start. A 60 game season, need a hot start, then bullpen takes a dump the first few games, and the offense continues where it left off last year. I just want one of my teams to be worth watching for once!

    • CallowayPost

      Oh yes, releasing Lorenzen and firing the manager after 5 games of a season we all HOPE will be completed.

      Players are human beings, and understanding them as such will do you more harm than good. Same as in the normal business world, understanding your employees when they’re going through something is a way to let them know you have their backs.

      No one performs worse than someone utterly afraid of being fired, but no one performs better than an employee knowing that their manager shows confidence in them, and shows it with actions.

      How much more existent do you think that pressure is when collectively over a few hours, each day, that you get about 15 or so minutes to perform to perfection.

      • RickG

        Fire Bell because EVERY season with him is identical. Always a slow start, characterized by digging themselves into a hole that cannot be overcome is incompetence personified. Bell is lackadaisical, which translates into a lackadaisical team that acts just like Bell…… all the passion and energy of a wet blanket. Bell is not only a semi-awake most of the time, but he REFUSES to change and REFUSES to learn from his own failed decisions. How many games does Bell need to blow because he refuses to allow dominant starting pitchers to pitch and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS puts in lousy bullpen pitchers too early, which helps their opponents get back into games.

    • KELLY E WILLIAMS

      Lorenzen is a nice guy but, if he keeps it up and the new kids can do better, Then send him to the sub list real quick. Weed out the duds real quick, even if you are a Veteran.

  2. Klugo

    The distraction, I would say, is coming from the positive test in their own clubhouse, not the Marlins.

  3. Melvin

    Have to stay positive. It’s not like we have no talent and have no chance. Have to find the right chemistry. Have to coach players more than stats.

    • Seadog

      Well said… “Coach players more than stats”. When Chris Welch says this team is distracted. You better believe it. He is a “Home boy” 100%

      I hope Doug is right. Big three coming up. Go on a win streak. I just don’t see it though. David Bell has driven this team the wrong way from day 1. Please fire David Bell.

      • KELLY E WILLIAMS

        BARRY, BARRY, BARRY!!!! OR CAN WE SAY O’Neil, O’Neil, O’Neil!!!

      • Chris

        I’d be reaching out to Rolen. The guy knew how to play the game, and knew how to keep others in check.

  4. Toby

    I totally agree to be honest after watching a disaster of a team last year Bell has to go.He brings no energy to the bench, their entire team minus Gray,Castillo,Bauer, look like they’re hungover. To much talent to be playing like this and I think Moustakas is distancing himself from these losers

    • Jim Walker

      Moose and Castellanos need to step up and take this team over. I appreciate Votto is a generational talent and marches to his own drum. That’s fine for him. However, year after year, it seems the team as a whole lacks focus on individual accountability for collective goals and playing like a team. This is not a good thing.

      • Klugo

        Yes. The Reds have lacked leadership for a long long time.

  5. GreatRedLegsFan

    It looks like Bell doesn’t create enough confidence among the team, which coupled with an underperforming bullpen in a short season is a recipe for disaster. Instead of a 1-4 record, the team should be 4-1 today. Five more games (2 more against the Cubs plus 3 against the Tigers) and 1/6 of the season will be gone. So, it’s up to front office now to step-in and do what they’re suppossed to do, I believe they didn’t spend the money they did in the offseason for this.

  6. Redgoggles

    When Welsh made those comments obviously the covid things make sense, but I’m wondering how much “distraction” the players are having with the irregularities of their roles. That’s clearly Bell’s MO, but I wonder how effectively he’s communicated those expectations to the players. Both Castellanos and Shogo have intimated displeasure of being subbed out. If that is how Bell is going to play them, it seems like he should let each player know what’s expected of them. That is key on any management level. Pure speculation on my part and maybe he’s communicated just fine and they just don’t like it, but it has crossed my mind……along with confidence sapping moves like PH Colon for Winker last night. Maybe the players are “distracted” by their managers moves?

    • RojoBenjy

      I know i’m distracted by his “moves”

    • Chris

      I don’t think it matters whether Bell tells them or not. Nobody wants to be bounced in and out of the lineup on a daily basis, much less during a game, like what we are seeing from Bell. Again, advanced metrics are nice, but understanding that the players are not computers/robots is very important. Players at this level, who are true starters cannot play at a high level when they are being used like a video game.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I don’t blame David Bell at all for taking Winker down against a lefthanded pitcher. In his CAREER, Winker bats .173 against lefties. Would I like to see someone better than Colon as a righthanded pinch-hitting option? Absolutely.

      Phillip Ervin has a .232 career average against righties.

      Both players are .300 or better vs. pitchers throwing from the opposite side from which are batting. These guys are being used correctly by Bell.

      • Melvin

        Lorenzen if available would be a better option than Colon as a RH bat off the bench. If Winker can hit LH pitching he hasn’t shown it. I thought he would be able to when he first came up. From what I’ve seen it’s not just a matter of bad luck. He looks overmatched.

    • Gr8pnt

      Totally agree. I hoped the endless moves would stop with the new players. I had an image of what the lineup would be that was promoted by the reds but haven’t seen it much. I’m tired of both Ervin and Winker and was before the season. Anyone else think Galvis can play ss at that weight? Major mistake letting Iglesias leave for more than one reason. Tired of the matchup subbing.

      • Gr8pnt

        Remember the roster goes down to 28 and then 26 so hopefully fewer parts to juggle. I know he did it last year with 25 but dh could make a difference. PLAY SHOGO!

      • TR

        Yes, play Shogo. Take a chance on this guy that he could be the sparkplug the Reds need to start winning.

  7. TR

    The Reds are a good team with an outstanding starting pitching trio, but they can’t do it all without help from the offense and bullpen. Talent is one thing but it takes an intense desire to win which seems to be missing. Unless a leader steps forward such as Castellanos or Moustakas, it’s just going to be another also-ran season. Successful teams often have personal conflicts, but the desire to win often brings disparate players together, but this takes a leader stepping forward, and the development of a winning attitude and chemistry.

    • RojoBenjy

      It’s hard for Castellanos to lead when he sits on the bench

    • Chris

      @TR, much of what you said above, I agree with, but the manager has to let people do their jobs. Frankly the offense has been better than given credit for. Only one game have they scored less than 4 runs, and in fact, they’ve scored 5 or more in all but 2 games. The bullpen has been used MUCH earlier than they should have been used in all but ONE game so far. In reality the bullpen has been the only bad function so far (well, Bell has been too), and ironic enough, Bell wants to continue using it earlier and earlier each game.

  8. Jim Delaney

    David Bell is the problem. The Reds show no emotion, they are sitting on there hands. Cubs with a new manager are up on railing with every pitch, chirping and having fun. How Kyle Stephenson didnt play last night after 3 great at bats in his 1st game is a joke. Was that due to service time? Or Bell doesnt know when to give a hot player a shot?! This team reminds me of watching The Natural. Bell has the psychiatrist informing the players losing is a disease… No known roles for bullpen. Also Dick William’s and front office should have had better options for backup at 2B. Van Meter looks overmatched. If you have to play him with Moustakas out, he should be hitting 9th. He is lost at plate…

  9. Steven Ross

    I soured on Bell a year ago May after a loss in San Francisco. I couldn’t believe after the game he said: it doesn’t matter when you bat in the lineup. It was the same weekend he used David Hernandez for a night game and he was lights out. Bell then used him again 12 hours later during a day game and he imploded! He rode Hernandez into the ground. Finally, back to back years of a slow start. Not so good.

  10. Wayne Nabors

    I’ve heard alot about the reds depth, but ervin,colon,vanmeter,and davidson is not what I call depth not a good hitter in the bunch,just monday ervin swrung at ball 4 which would have tied game,these guys may be reds prospects but they aren’t major league prospects.i would guess the last real good hitter the reds had off of bench was Miguel cairo,just have no confidence in these guys,I suspected when ervin came to bat Monday it was gonna be a strikeout

    • Chris

      Great points. Bell has made a guy like Ervin an actual starter, or at least a platoon starter. All because he finally, after a bunch of years in AAA and MLB, he had a good season AGAINST lefties. Now, he’s somehow a part time starter. I loved the draft of Ervin way back when, but unfortunately he has been a 1st round bust. Ervin is a fringe MLBer at best. Where I disagree with you is on VanMeter. That kid changed his swing/approach midway through the 2018 season and has mashed ever since. Sure, he’s started out rough, but so has Suarez, and a few others.

      • Doug Gray

        Ervin’s actually been exactly what you should expect from someone taken 27th overall in the draft. A solid utility man. The average expected WAR for the #27 overall pick in the draft before they reach free agency is less than 2 WAR for those entire 6/7 years of service.

        So no, he’s not been a 1st round bust. We simply have wildly unrealistic expectations about what a draft pick should turn into compared to what history tells us we should expect from them.

  11. Chris Holbert

    Players roles on the team should be communicated to each one individually. A player, despite it being their “job”, needs to know their role and responsibility, so they can prepare accordingly. Great, winning teams, have a core 6 or so guys that are in the lineup on a daily basis. The Reds seem to have maybe 4, that know they are going to be in there everyday. Just because you are on the 30 man, does not mean you should get regular time. This goes back to everyone knowing their role, for preparation. Also, just because you hit opposite the way the current pitcher is throwing, does not mean you have a better chance than a more talented player. “Journeyman” players have that moniker for that reason. Players, like employees, need to be put in positions to be successful, and IMO, Bell has not figured out what that is or refuses to see that, and continues tho follow numbers only, and not what the eye test shows.

    • Reds Fan

      Bell has horrible managerial abilities. I sometimes think it is his goal to get every player into every game…don’t ever let a hitter bat against a pitcher who throws from the same side as the hitter. Opening day, he pulls Castellanos, admittedly with a nice lead, but I immediately thought “let’s make him mad since he can opt out of his contract at the end of the year” and that is exactly what happened. I cannot figure out the Akiyama situation. In Japan, he regularly got about 600 at bats with an OBP in the high .300s and sometimes over.400 which means he played all the time. So, Bell has already turned him into a platoon player. In the early games, when he did play, he hits 6th and Winker 1st. Another headscratcher! I realize Winker generally has a good OBP himself but he is slow with more power and Akiyama is faster with an excellent OBP. And what is the deal with Ervin leading off? I am not even going to comment on his use of the bullpen. Front office went out and got some players but Bell manages as if he had the same team as last year.

    • TR

      Analytics (David Bell) has taken over the eye test (Lou Pinella) as the center of the managerial art.

  12. SultanofSwaff

    Hate to say it but it’s getting late early. These next two games are huge. If we lose them both it’s going to be a massive lift to get back into contention as the Cubs move on to play KC and Pittsburgh next…….they could really rack up the wins and create a lot of separation.

    Sooooo frustrating watching these AAAA pitchers from the Cubs bullpen baffle our hitters. JVM looks lost and disinterested, much like half the team. But hey, it’s a ‘good’ clubhouse, and there’s ‘great chemistry’. You hear that year after losing year and yet the front office went out and hired the most vanilla guy on the planet to lead these men. Weak sauce!

  13. Hotto4Votto

    It’s really disheartening to start yet another season poorly. And of all seasons to start poorly this is not the one, especially losing to division rivals.

  14. Don

    I am beginning to question if this is a club that can handle pressure and expectations- the pressure of a much shortened season and the expectations of a being a contender. Approach by the hitters last night was pretty much horrible across the board. Patience at the plate seemed to be thrown out the window. Castellano is one of the few guys hitting well, and he took some cuts that were grossly unprofessional. Votto’s lack of patience late in the game when the Reds look to be crawling back was surprising. I am not suggesting that the Reds need to hoop and holler like the Cubs in the dugout, but it is clear to me which team has been more relaxed and which team is tight.

    Five games in and the Reds have had more than six hits just once. You might can get away with that to some degree if your pitching holds up, but you can’t have a subpar bullpen and subpar hitting and expect to go very far. One of those two areas has to improve quickly or this season is toast.

    Every game this season is worth 2.7 times what it would be normally. Extrapolated out to a 162 game season, the Reds are the equivalent of being 3-11 right now.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I believe that teams have to “learn” how to win. They have to develop inner confidence and belief that they will win. In the case of this team, they will need to win some games that they have a chance to win in the last at-bat, such as the back-to-back one-run losses to Detroit and Chicago. Votto was the person who was in a position to deliver, and I absolutely do not blame him because he smoked the ball on both occasions — just right at defenders. I think Moustakas is the guy to help develop that mindset and belief on this team.

      Regarding handling pressure and expectations, I have big questions about Mahle. Something goes wrong, and he drops his head and his body language is that of a defeatist expecting the worse. It was telling that Derek Johnson had to come out to talk to Mahle after Akiyama lost the fly ball in the sun that went for a triple.

      David Bell also has to get the bullpen figured out quickly. Lorenzen is in a big slump, and should not be brought in to critical situations until he gets things straightened out. I think Antone may slot into one of those late-game relief roles rather quickly. He’s looked very good every time we’ve seen him.

      What we’re seeing with Castellanos is what we’re going to get. He’s a free swinger who does a lot of guessing on what pitch is coming, and looks pretty terrible when he is fooled. But when the pitch is in or near the strike zone, he can do some damage.

      • jim walker

        Good stuff Tom. I recall Joe Morgan saying on more than one occasion that learning to win as a team was a whole extended process from learning to play well as an individual.

        As to Mahle. it is hard to think of a physical reason why a guy that has the high K% he has along with the relatively low BB% to go with it should have trouble getting his game together. The issue is often “between the ears” as I am sure we recall the Ol’ Lefthander saying more than a few times.

      • Melvin

        When you say “learn how to win” that says a lot. I agree 100%. That’s always a big danger in the rebuilding process in every sport. Just because you get good talented players doesn’t necessarily mean winning again. It’s not just a button to turn back on. Rebuilding is always dangerous. This team has to find that formula and chemistry. That mostly comes through a manager and some veteran players who “know how to win” but mostly the manager. Hope they can do it soon.

  15. Hotto4Votto

    The Reds have scored 25 runs in 5 games. Averaging 5 runs per game with the rotation we have should result in a much better record than 1-4. Even with the runs scored, the offense hasn’t really hit it’s stride, but I don’t think it’s the main contributor to losing. The bullpen has been brutal. Need to get guys in that can get outs.

  16. Gr8pnt

    Remember the roster goes down to 28 and then 26 so hopefully fewer parts to juggle. I know he did it last year with 25 but dh could make a difference. PLAY SHOGO!

  17. Roger Garrett

    Same guys doing the same things even with an addition or two on offense and in the pen.Offense is homer happy and can’t score unless they hit it out.Pen still is struggling because its the same guys so why should we expect any different results.So are the Reds suddenly going to become something they never have been?Not unless the players change or somebody can change them will this team suddenly become winners.

  18. TR

    That’s the reality. The last team leader I can recall, other than Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips, is Greg Vaughan.