Reds Review/Preview: Week 20
Results: 2-1 loss to Padres; 11-6 loss to Padres; 7-3 win over Padres; 10-3 win over Dodgers; 5-3 loss to Dodgers; 8-3 loss to Dodgers; 2-1 loss to Dodgers.
Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 51-65 // minus-48 // fourth, 23.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals and 1.5 games ahead of the last-place Brewers.
Notable performances/trends: Manager Bryan Price slotted Eugenio Suarez into the No. 2 hole for the second time as a Red last Monday night. Suarez went on to bat second the rest of the week, with the exception of an off-day on Tuesday. … Monday night, Jay Bruce clubbed the 200th home run of his career and Brayan Pena stole his first base of the season. Pena has five stolen bases in 601 career games. … The Reds managed just one run last Monday despite six walks in five innings by Padres starter Ian Kennedy. … 2012 first-round pick Nick Travieso was dominant in two starts last week for High-A Daytona after missing nearly two months with a wrist contusion. The right-handed Travieso fired five no-hit innings Tuesday and surrendered just two base knocks in five frames on Sunday. … After fanning eight in his start Wednesday, Raisel Iglesias—who was the subject of a compelling Enquirer feature last week—now has three outings in which he has struck out eight batters. … The Reds knocked around former Red Mat Latos to the tune of five runs (four earned) and seven hits over 4.2 innings on Thursday. Reds hitters registered 15 total hits, with every starting position player aside from Marlon Byrd notching at least one. … In his first start since being demoted to Triple-A Louisville (see: Roster notes), Michael Lorenzen fired a complete-game shutout, striking out one and walking one while scattering four hits over 93 pitches. … Bruce is slumping big-time in August, tallying a .153/.180/.305 slash line with 20 strikeouts and just two walks in 59 at-bats this month. … On the opposite end of the spectrum, outfielder Jesse Winker, the Reds’ top hitting prospect, has homered in five straight games for Double-A Pensacola. The 21-year-old is slashing .400/.458/.782 in 15 games in August.
Roster notes: Price said Suarez will see time at third base, second base, left field—and of course, shortstop—in spring training. Suarez last played the outfield or third base on semi-regular basis during rookie ball in 2010. I think it’s an inspired move to add some versatility to a player whose skills at the plate merit regular playing time. … Lorenzen (5.74 FIP in 90.2 innings) was sent down to Louisville Thursday. John Lamb, one of the three lefties acquired in the Johnny Cueto swap with the Royals, made his major-league debut Friday. In an interesting/eerie move, Lamb will wear No. 47 with the Reds, Cueto’s old digits. Lamb was also the sixth pitcher to debut for the Reds this season. … Reds top prospect Robert Stephenson left his start Wednesday with cramping in his right wrist, but he is expected to be fine. (That sound you hear is the Reds’ front office collectively exhaling.) … Tucker Barnhart (.270/.350/.384 career slash batting left-handed; .122/.182/.122 career slash batting right-handed) is contemplating giving up switch-hitting.
Notable quote: “This is the dream right here, living the dream—all of this. Taking it in, I’m trying to embrace it. I did hear Vin (Scully) talking a little about myself and I heard him bring up John, my grandfather. I never had the chance to meet him, but it was definitely neat to hear Vin Scully and see him up on the JumboTron talking about not only myself, but also my grandpa. It was neat. It was a surreal moment. I felt like I was dreaming in a way.” — Lamb after his first major league start Friday, where he allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings, along with seven strikeouts. Lamb’s grandfather was the Dodgers’ public address announcer from 1962-82.
Reason for OPTIMISM and PESSIMISM: Billy Hamilton’s showing in four plate appearances Thursday: two ground ball singles, one fly ball single, one home run, four runs scored, and one stolen base. Pretty please, Billy, more of the ground ball/line drive stuff. I don’t mind if he occasionally attempts to crank out a round-tripper, but there is no good reason for Hamilton hitting the ball in the air on nearly 39 percent of his batted balls. That is the path to the Dark Side—also known as the highway to becoming Willy Taveras 2.0.
Baseball nerd observation of the week: With the season lost, Price seems intent on permitting his young hurlers to learn on the fly. (I approve of this strategy). Monday night, Price very easily could have pulled 24-year-old starter David Holmberg in favor of a more experienced bullpen arm when the Padres put runners on first and second with two outs. But Price was keen to let it roll. Holmberg induced a grounder, but had the ball deflect off of his glove for an infield single. With the bases now loaded, Price pulled Holmberg, but instead of bringing in J.J. Hoover, put in Pedro Villarreal, who is typically used for multiple-inning mop-up duty. Villarreal got the job done by causing a pop-up to end the inning.
Who’s next?: Following an off-day today, the Reds begin a 10-game homestand Tuesday with a pair of games against the Royals. (No, Cueto isn’t scheduled to pitch.) The Diamondbacks are in town for four games starting Thursday.
Relevant Reds video clip: This nifty double play Thursday is exactly why patience is a virtue when it comes to Suarez and his occasionally frustrating brand of defense at shortstop. (Suarez has committed 11 errors in 53 games at short.) During that same game on Thursday, Suarez went 3-for-5 at the dish with two doubles and a three-run home run in the sixth inning that broke the game open.
Random Reds video clip: That time in April 1994 when Reggie Sanders initiated a brawl in Montreal after Expos starter Pedro Martinez—who was working on a perfect game—hit him in the side with a pitch, the third time Martinez had tried to move Sanders off the plate by throwing inside.
Random movie scene of the week: Old-school reporter-editor interactions like this one between Jason Robards, Robert Redford, and Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men make me wish I could have been a political writer in the 1970s, when newsrooms were the size of aircraft carriers and ‘political scandals’ were legitimate political scandals. (I can’t do the reporting for my reporters, which means I have to trust them. And I hate trusting anybody.)
Notes from around the National League Central: Former Reds (and Cubs) manager Dusty Baker stopped by Cincinnati’s clubhouse prior to Tuesday’s game. … Brewers general manager Doug Melvin will transition to an advisory role with Milwaukee once the club hires a new GM. … Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo flashed some guile and impressive balance Wednesday when he leapt onto a Wrigley Field tarp to make a catch. … The Cubs walloped five home runs in a 9-2 beating of the Brewers on Thursday. … With Addison Russell taking over at shortstop, slumping Starlin Castro made his first career start at second base Friday. … What a difference Queen City native Kyle Schwarber has made in the Cubs lineup. … The Pirates took three from Mets over the weekend, completing their first sweep in Queens since 2004. … The Brewers polished off a three-game brooming and a season sweep (7-0) of the Phillies on Sunday. … The Cubs’ nine-game winning streak was halted by White Sox starter Chris Sale and his 15 punchouts Sunday. … Brewers prospect David Denson became the first active player in Major League Baseball and its affiliates to publicly say that he is gay. … The Cardinals (75-42), Pirates (69-46), and Cubs (67-49) own the National League’s top three records and three of the four best records in baseball. (The Royals are 71-46.)
Notes from around Major League Baseball: Johnny Cueto delivered a tour-de-force performance in his home debut for the Royals Monday, drawing vitality from the Kauffman Stadium crowd to notch a complete-game shutout. Cueto allowed four hits, issued zero walks, and fanned eight Tigers. (Full marks to whoever snapped this post-Gatorade shower pic of Cueto.) … Andruw Jones, one of my all-time favorite players, wants another shot at the big leagues despite not playing in the majors since 2012. … Trayce Thompson, the brother of NBA star Klay Thompson, notched his first big league home run Tuesday for the White Sox, and in turn received the obligatory rookie greeting in the Chicago dugout. … Also on Tuesday, the Indians topped the Yankees in 16 innings, and for the first time in MLB history, all 15 home teams prevailed. … Wednesday, Mariners’ starter Hisashi Iwakuma became the first AL pitcher in almost three years to toss a no-hitter. (The last AL pitcher to complete a no-no was Iwakuma teammate’s, Felix Hernandez, who completed a perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012.) … Think Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso gets a little fired up whenever he goes up against the Reds? Alonso, who was the Reds first-round pick in 2008 and advanced to the big leagues in 2010, went 4-for-9 in three games against the Reds this week, bumping his career numbers vs. Cincinnati to a .333/.385/.464 slash with an OPS of .849. Alonso was never going to usurp Votto at first base and was shipped to the Padres in the Mat Latos deal. … Red Sox manager John Farrell will miss the remainder of the season while undergoing treatment for lymphoma. … A pinch-hit three-run blast by the Yankees’ Carlos Beltran ended the Blue Jays’ 11-game winning streak Friday evening. … After being Bumgarner’d Sunday, the Nationals have lost six straight to fall a game under .500 (58-59) and 4.5 games back of the first-place Mets in the NL East. … The Red Sox took two out of three from the Mariners over the weekend, scoring 45 runs—including 22 on Saturday—during the three-game set.
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.