Reds Review/Preview: Week 17




Results: 5-4 win over Cubs; 5-4 loss to Cubs (13 innings); 9-1 win over Cubs; 6-5 loss to Cubs; 6-5 loss to Rockies; 5-2 win over Rockies; 17-7 loss to Rockies.

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 43-53 // minus-51 // fourth, 19 games back of the first-place Cardinals and 1.5 games in front of the last-place Brewers.

Fare thee well, Johnny Cueto: Johnny Beisbol was finally traded Sunday, shipped to the Royals for a trio of left-handed pitching prospects. No one wanted to see Cueto go, but such is life. The move was a welcome one after Saturday night’s melodrama and the general sense of who-is-staying-and-who-is-going dread that has been attached to the Reds for months now. For Kansas City, the club now has an ace to ride for what it hopes is another deep postseason run. For the Reds, the return haul was an impressive one: three southpaws with varying ceilings and repertoires, but all three appear capable of being rotation pieces.

Notable performances/trends: Joey Votto and Todd Frazier were each picked off first base Tuesday evening. The duo rebounded by combining to score five runs and reach base seven times during the first of Cincinnati’s two games on Wednesday. … J.J. Hoover surrendered two runs in a blown save Tuesday night, the first runs the right-hander had yielded since June 30. … In what was likely the final home start of his Reds career, Mike Leake was fantastic in Wednesday’s first game, limiting the Cubs to one run over eight innings. Leake struck out six, recorded zero walks, and retired the last 16 batters he faced. … In the seventh frame of Wednesday’s first game, the Reds scored four times with two outs to break open a 5-1 game. … In the second inning of Wednesday’s nightcap, the Reds scored five runs and sent 10 batters to the plate. … Wednesday, Votto became the first player in five years to reach base on nine occasions in a single day. … Aroldis Chapman issued the first intentional walk of his career in Wednesday’s second tilt. … Frazier connected for the 100th home run of his career Saturday. … Sunday, Michael Lorenzen and Dylan Axelrod became the first two Reds pitchers to allow eight runs in the same game since 1961. … Votto is absolutely on fire through 47 post-All-Star break plate appearances, boasting a .528/.638/.833 slash with five extra-base hits and 11 runs scored.

Roster notes: Last Monday, Axelrod was called up from Triple-A Louisville to take the roster spot of reliever Manny Parra, who was put on the disabled list with a sprained left elbow. … Shortstop Zack Cozart, lost for the season after undergoing surgery to replace two torn ligaments and a tendon in his right knee on June 15, expects to be ready for spring training. (Chances are Cozart won’t able to engage in much baseball-related activity this offseason, though.) … Last week, the Reds were awarded a Round A competitive balance selection in the 2016 draft. The competitive balance Round A picks come directly after the first round of the draft. This news may sound like small potatoes, but Lorenzen was a competitive round pick in 2013. … Reliever-turned-starter Tony Cingrani was sent back to Louisville Wednesday after struggling (2.2 innings, six hits, five (earned) runs, two walks, three strikeouts) in his first major-league start since 2014. … Pitcher Jonathon Crawford, who was acquired along with Eugenio Suarez from the Tigers in the Alfredo Simon deal, is probably done for the season with a recurrence of the shoulder issue that’s plagued the 23-year-old righty for most of 2015.

Notable quote: “Why not? These guys are unbelievable, so whenever I can use their stuff, I’m going to do it.” — Lorenzen said last Monday after he rocked Cueto’s glove and Chapman’s cleats during his start.

Reason for OPTIMISM/pessimism: Trades are happening. This is good. The non-waiver trade deadline is Friday, so expect a constant stream of Reds-related trade rumors all week.

Rant of the week: The Reds lost a game on a walk-off wild pitch Friday. That is all.

Baseball nerd observation of the week: Sometimes in baseball, a few sequences can summarize a season. With the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s second game, Frazier hit a rocket up the middle that ricocheted off Cubs reliever Hector Rondon and went straight to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who snagged the ball and threw home for the force out. Jay Bruce then popped up to end the frame. In the top of the ninth, after issuing the aforementioned first intentional walk of his career, Chapman yielded a single to Taylor Teagarden that plated the eventual winning run. Teagarden was slashing .167/.167/.167 in 12 plate appearances up to that point and entered the game slashing .201/.260/.377 for his career. Yeeeep, that about sums up 2015 for the Redlegs.

Who’s next?: Beginning today, the Reds are in St. Louis for three games before flying home for a four-game series with the Pirates. The Cardinals own baseball’s best record (63-35) and run differential (plus-107), while Pittsburgh (57-41) owns the NL’s second-best record and third-best run differential (plus-52).

Relevant Reds video clip: The only choice in this section is, of course, Brandon Phillips’ behind-the-back flip to an alert Eugenio Suarez for a force out last Monday.

Notes from around the National League Central: Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (knee, leg) is out six weeks, meaning Pittsburgh will be without the left side of its normal starting infield—third baseman Josh Harrison (thumb) is also on the shelf—through most (if not all of) August. … Top Cardinals prospect Stephen Piscotty was called up to the bigs Tuesday. Piscotty could improve St. Louis’ sagging production at first base. … Cincinnati native and Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber was a pain in the Reds’ side Tuesday, tying the game with a two-run round-tripper in the ninth inning and clubbing a go-ahead solo homer in the 13th inning. In 16 at-bats at Great American Ball Park, Schwarber is slashing .438/.500/.875 with a 1.375 (!!!) OPS. Not surprisingly, Chicago is investigating ways to keep Schwarber’s stick in the lineup. … Almost 12 years to the day the Pirates sent Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs, the club re-acquired the third baseman on Thursday. Ramirez signed with the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1994. … In a bullpen-bolstering move, the Cardinals acquired former Marlins closer Steve Cishek on Friday. … Continuing his breakout 2015, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez outdueled Shelby Miller Saturday, the man Martinez replaced in St. Louis’ rotation. … A gang of Pirates fans know the “Bernie” dance? Well-played, folks. … Rizzo is struggling post-All-Star break. In 46 plate appearances, he’s slashing .154/.261/.179 with just one extra-base hit.

Notes from around Major League Baseball: Albert Pujols tallied a trio of home runs Monday to move past Mike Schmidt and into 15th on the all-time home run list. … Early last week, the Orioles signed 19-year-old Xu Guiyuan, the first prospect inked from one of MLB’s China development centers. … Tuesday, Rays starter Nathan Karns became the first American League pitcher to homer since 2011. … Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, a former Red, became the second player this season to hit for the cycle, tripling in the ninth inning of a 9-0 win over the Rockies on Tuesday … The Arizona Diamondbacks: still uppity, and still at the forefront of baseball’s outdated and dangerous frontier justice system. … It sure sounds like commissioner Rob Manfred is open to pushing back the trade deadline. … Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 Mets over seven innings Thursday to increase his shutout streak to 29 frames. … In the face of daily trade rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels pitched a no-hitter vs. the Cubs on Saturday, striking out 13 and walking two. … Two days before his 40th birthday, Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs on Saturday. … Saturday night, the Indians unveiled a statue of Larry Doby outside of Progressive Field. Doby was the American League’s first African-American player. … A baby raccoon found its way into the Mets’ weight room Sunday. … Dodgers starter Zack Greinke’s scoreless inning streak ended at 45.2 innings Sunday. … A star-studded Hall of Fame class was inducted over the weekend, with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio enshrined into Cooperstown.

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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