Reds Review/Preview: Week 18




Results: 4-1 loss to Cardinals; 4-0 win over Cardinals; 1-0 win over Cardinals; 15-5 win over Pirates; 5-4 loss to Pirates; 4-3 win over Pirates; 3-0 loss to Pirates.

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 47-56 // minus-42 // fourth, 19 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

Reds trade deadline reaction: Roughly 48 hours after Mike Leake blanked the Cardinals over eight innings, the right-hander was sent west to San Francisco early Friday morning. The swap looks to have worked out for both parties: the Reds netted the Giants’ top prospect plus a corner infielder/outfielder with some gusto in his bat; the Giants received a veteran starter in a groove—over his last four starts as a Red covering 30 innings, Leake yielded two earned runs and struck out 21—to insert into their pitcher-friendly home ballpark. … Somewhat surprisingly, the Reds failed to trade Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce (phew!) prior to Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, and that’s fine. General manager Walt Jocketty should settle for nothing short of a monster haul for Chapman, and with the closer market a bit lethargic, it appears as if Jocketty couldn’t obtain the return he desired. Trading Chapman should be an offseason priority, though. … Moving Bruce now was a bad idea—especially since the Reds are keen on keeping Todd Frazier (under team control through 2017) and appear to be pursuing relevance in 2016—so that was a bullet dodged. … Overall, it appears Jocketty did well in collecting additional young pitching, especially since not a single prized hitting prospect was traded before the deadline.

Joey Votto appreciation section: After a 3-for-3 performance in Tuesday’s game, Votto had reached base in 37 times in his last 50 plate appearances, a feat that spawned the latest humorous Votto Vine. (Votto jokingly referring to himself as a bad Mother Lover back in April still ranks as the top Votto-related six-second soundbite of the year.) … Votto’s 2015 season could rank right alongside his MVP season in 2010. … Should someone on Nuxhall Way pen an article about how Votto is the greatest clutch hitter ever? (Half-kidding). … Votto’s home run on Tuesday night was just incredible.

Notable performances/trends: Wednesday, Anthony DeSclafani notched seven scoreless innings to register his first shutout outing since April … The Reds took two out of three vs. the Cardinals to win a series in St. Louis for the first time since 2011, ending a nine-series losing streak in Looie. Cincinnati pitching blanked the hosts over the final 22 innings of the series. … Triple-A left-hander David Holmberg started in place of Cueto Thursday and was very solid, allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. Holmberg walked three and fanned four. … Reds hitters logged a season-best 19 hits Thursday. … Keyvius Sampson made his first start as a big leaguer Sunday in Leake’s stead, yielding three runs over five innings while striking out six and walking one. … Todd Frazier is slashing .180/.250/.344 since the All-Star break.

Roster notes: Double-A Pensacola catcher Kyle Skipworth—who was not-so-subtly ejected from a Pensacola game recently—was recalled Monday to take Cueto’s place on the roster. … Skipworth was sent back to Pensacola Thursday to make room for Holmberg. … Reliever Nate Adcock, who has a UCL tear in his right elbow and needs Tommy John surgery, was put on the disabled list, which necessitated Sampson’s promotion from Triple-A Louisville. … Louisville outfielder Kyle Waldrop was promoted to take Leake’s place on the squad.

Notable quote, Part I: “Every time I go out there and work, I learn something new. I learn a lot every day I pitch. You realize, at this level, that you cannot commit a mistake. Every time you make one mistake, things happenreally fast. I’m learning every day.”rookie pitcher Raisel Iglesias after a poorly-placed pitch resulted in a grand slam and soured an otherwise commendable outing last Monday.

Notable quote, Part II: “Last night they threw at my head—and they missed. The line is whenever you go above somebody’s shoulder—that’s where it is, that’s the line.” — Marlon Byrd offering an explanation for the bench-clearing hullabaloo that broke out after Pirates reliever Tony Watson intentionally hit Brandon Phillips in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game, re-opening old wounds between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The essentials: the Pirates are tired of seeing their star Andrew McCutchen get hit while the Reds (and other teams) are sick of being thumped by Pirate pitching.

Notable quote, Part III: “I plead the fizzifth on that question.” — Phillips (who else?) declining to answer a question about Sunday’s shoving match.

Reason for optimism/PESSIMISM: Sampson’s start was the fifth straight by a Reds rookie, the first time that’s happened to Cincinnati since 1935, per STATS LLC. (I hope Bryan Price is stocked up on Tums.)

Rant of the week: There’s a portion of me that feels Votto is occasionally too selective in certain situations/loses track of just how good he is. For example, with a runner on first, one out, and the Reds trailing 4-1 in top of the fifth inning last Monday, Votto bunted Billy Hamilton over to second…and about caused me to suffer a coronary. (Votto appeared to be bunting for a hit, but that’s not the point.) A hitter of Votto’s caliber should never bunt—especially when he’s hotter than Yuma in July at the dish—whether he’s bunting for a hit or in a sacrifice situation.

Baseball nerd observation of the week: As Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday attempted to beat out a potential double play in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, he pulled up lame and failed to touch first base, peeling off to the right and hobbling into the dugout. Since Holliday never made contact with first base, the Reds appealed and were granted the out to end the inning. (Holliday was later put on the disabled list with a quad strain.)

Who’s next?: The Reds are off today. The Cardinals are in town for three games beginning Tuesday, and then the Reds head west to begin a three-city, 10-game, 10-day road trip in Arizona.

Random movie scene of the week: For me, the “Three Wise Men” scene from Training Day is the preeminent clip in Antoine Fuqua’s masterpiece, narrowly edging Ethan Hawke shooting Denzel Washington in the rear end and “You’re in the office, baby.”

Relevant Reds video clip: Thursday, Phillips became the first player since 1920 to record two stolen bases, two home runs, four hits, and seven RBI during a single game. Impressive, indeed.

Notable moves from trade deadline week: Major trades started going down early last week, with Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (and reliever LaTroy Hawkins) traded north of the border to the Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Jose Reyes and prospects. Reyes has now been traded twice since inking a six-year, $106 million deal with the Marlins in December 2011. … Days after securing Johnny Cueto, the Royals acquired infielder/outfielder/on-base magnate Ben Zobrist from the Athletics. In return, Kansas City shipped minor league pitchers Sean Manaea—once rumored to be the headlining piece in potential package for Cueto—and Aaron Brooks (not the hoopster). … Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was traded to the Nationals, bolstering the back end of Washington’s bullpen. … Former Reds starter Mat Latos was traded to the Dodgers in a 13-player, 3-team deal that featured big money Cuban import Hector Olivera ($62.5 million) being re-routed to the Braves before he ever suited up for Los Angeles. Oh, and Bronson Arroyo, who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, was randomly traded for the second time this season. … Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez was sent to the Mets for pitcher Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores…until he wasn’t. Flores caught wind of the supposed swap mid-game and was visibly heartbroken. Gomez, along with starter Mike Fiers, was eventually traded to the Astros in exchange for what looks to be a solid return. (I badly wanted the Reds to get a deal done with the Astros so Brett Maverick Phillips could create a decade’s worth of Top Gun references in Cincinnati. … Tigers ace David Price joined the completely-all-in Blue Jays in a stunning trade Thursday. … The Phillies finally moved Cole Hamels, trading the stud southpaw to the Rangers. … The Tigers completed their sell-off Friday by moving outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets.

Notes from around the National League Central: Brewers skipper Craig Counsell was ejected for the first time in 17 years as a player or manager on Monday…. Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was activated from the disabled list and started Tuesday against the Reds. Garcia allowed three runs over six innings. … Cubs starter Jon Lester struck out 14 Rockies over eight innings Wednesday. … The Cardinals inked a brand-new billion-dollar TV deal with Fox Sports Midwest. … With Holliday out for awhile, the Cardinals acquired first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss from the Indians Thursday. The price wasn’t cheap, as St. Louis had to part with touted left-handed pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky, a first-round pick in 2013. … The Pirates fortified their bullpen by bringing in Tigers closer Joakim Soria. … Friday, the Cardinals acquired former Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton and the Brewers flipped outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Orioles. … In an effort to solidify the back end of their rotation, the Cubs traded for Marlins starter Dan Haren. … Chicago swept Milwaukee over the weekend to extend its winning streak to five.

Notes from around Major League Baseball: The Yankees recorded 10 walks and 19 hits—eight of the extra-base variety—in a 21-5 victory over the Rangers Tuesday. New York scored 11 times in the second inning alone. … The Angels have lost six straight. … The Reds and Pirates weren’t the only clubs with temper issues Sunday. (To be fair, the umpires bungled that situation.)

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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