Reds Review/Preview: Week 16

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Results: 6-1 win over Indians; 9-4 loss to Indians; 5-3 loss to Indians (11 innings).

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 40-49 // minus-50 // fourth, 16.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals and one game ahead of the fifth-place Brewers.

All-Star Game memories: I’ll echo the sentiments of many who spent a sizable portion of All-Star weekend in downtown Cincinnati: the city performed wonderfully as the host of the Mid-Summer Classic. All of the events were eminently walkable, and the vigor in the air was noticeable—it was easy to tell something special was happening. A few highlights: I watched the Home Run Derby at Yard House, and each time Todd Frazier stepped up the plate, the atmosphere in the place was converted from relaxed to rapturous. … I was fortunate enough to attend the main event Tuesday night, and I must say, even for a guy who typically favors restraint at live sporting events, it was impossible not to relish the living, breathing walk-through-baseball-yore that was the pregame pomp and circumstance on the field. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax were roundly cheered. Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, and Joe Morgan received thunderous applause. Pete Rose, Prince of the Queen City, was greeted like the renounced baseball titan that he is. … Cardinals players were good sports all weekend, and especially so on Tuesday. The Redbirds were booed during the red carpet parade and mercilessly jeered during player introductions inside Great American Ball Park. (Bless you and your troll-tastic sense of humor, Yadier Molina.) … Lastly, witnessing Aroldis Chapman enter the game and blow away some of the game’s best with 100 mph heater after 100 mph heater was superb theater—Chapman’s 103 mph cutter to fan the Royals’ Mike Moustakas was Tammany Hall-crooked—despite the National League’s deficit (and eventual 6-3 loss).

Notable performances/trends: Marlon Byrd racked up four hits Friday night, the second time in 2015 he’s posted more than two hits in a game. … After logging a single, double, and a home run vs. Nationals ace Max Scherzer the week leading up to the All-Star Break, Joey Votto showed out against Indians starter and 2014 American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber Saturday night, registering two singles and a double in his first three plate appearances opposite the dominant right-hander. Reds statistical authority Joel Luckhaupt tweeted this cool nugget out before Votto walked in his fourth and final PA vs. Kluber. … Sunday’s game was ludicrous for all sorts of reasons: 1) Reds pitchers walked in four runs and issued 10 free passes, six via Johnny Cueto in possibly his final home outing. 2) The Indians left the bases loaded four times and stranded 18 base runners. 3) Aroldis Chapman (292 innings) became the fastest player ever to reach 500 strikeouts. 4) Shortstop Eugenio Suarez slid over to third base, second baseman Brandon Phillips moved to shortstop for the first time since 2007, and catcher Tucker Barnhart played right field after an injury and a used-up bench forced manager Bryan Price’s hand. … Todd Frazier struck out as a pinch-hitter Sunday to extend his streak of plate appearances without an unintentional walk to 89. (Hat tip to Steve Mancuso of Redleg Nation for noticing that trend.)

Roster notes: Friday, the Reds recalled reliever Jumbo Diaz from Triple-A Louisville and optioned Carlos Contreras. … Tony Cingrani was spotted with the Reds over the weekend, so it’s likely the lefty will start one of the Reds’ two games Wednesday vs. Chicago. Cingrani has been rehabbing a shoulder injury and getting stretched out innings-wise at Louisville.

Reason for OPTIMISM/pessimism: The order for the Great Sell-off has reportedly been given, a positive turn for a team that’s spent most of the 2015 season mired in limbo. If I were running the Reds, I’d trade the free agents-to-be (Byrd, Cueto, Mike Leake, Manny Parra, and Brayan Pena), Chapman (free agent after 2016), and accept a minimal return for Brandon Phillips (owed $27 million through 2017, has to approve a trade). In return, I would target as many young, controllable impact position players as I possibly could. I would not trade Jay Bruce (signed through 2016, team option for 2017) unless I was completely overwhelmed.

Rant of the week: Reliever Nate Adcock’s delivery plateward features more moving parts than a New York City subway station—translated from Baseball Speak to English: Adcock pitches slowly—and that plodding tempo haunted the right-hander in the seventh inning Saturday night. Adcock yielded stolen bases to Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, his unhurried delivery allowing the duo of Indians to net massive leads and steal second base without a meaningful throw from Pena. Adcock also walked three and allowed three runs in his 1.2 innings of work, which made for a double dose of poor run prevention for the journeyman.

Who’s next?: The Reds continue their homestand today with the first of three games in four days against the Cubs. Following an off-day Thursday, Cincinnati hits the road Friday with a trio of contests in Colorado.

Relevant Reds video clip: Votto’s barehanded play in the sixth inning of Saturday’s tilt illustrated the first baseman’s occasional stance on foregoing fundamentals for flair, but in this case, the ploy worked.

Notes from around the National League Central: Premier Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber was recalled to the big leagues with regular catcher Miguel Montero sidelined. … Over the weekend, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday (right quad) played for the first time since June 8. … The Pirates are experiencing a defensive crisis at first base. … The Cubs designated Edwin Jackson for assignment and called up Rafael Soriano Sunday. Chicago will have to pay the remaining $15.63 million on Jackson’s contract if no other team claims him. … The Cardinals fell 3-1 to the Mets in 18 innings Sunday. … The Pirates were swept by the Brewers over the weekend, and may have lost Jordy Mercer for an extended period of time after the shortstop was carted off the field following a gnarly collision with Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez.

Notes from around Major League Baseball: Commissioner Rob Manfred is open to the idea of expansion. … FanGraphs ranked the top 50 trade assets in the game. Here’s the top 10. … The numbers look fantastic in terms of Cincinnati and ASG attendance. … Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez received a contract extension through next season. … Kluber was the recipient of some rare run support Saturday. … Dodgers starter Zack Greinke’s scoreless streak is up to 43.2 innings after the long-locked righty twirled eight scoreless frames Sunday afternoon in Washington. … Sunday, the Angels were rained out at home for the first time since 1995. … Former Reds starter Alfredo Simon is firmly on the Struggle Bus with the Tigers, yielding 39 hits and 21 earned runs over 20 innings in his last four starts, bumping his ERA up to 4.53.

Grant Freking is a Nuxhall Way and Cincinnati Magazine contributor, and also writes for Redleg Nation and The Ohioan. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.

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