Reds Review/Preview: Week 5




Results: 9-6 win over Brewers; 4-2 win over Brewers; 8-3 loss to Brewers; 5-1 win over Braves; 4-3 loss to Braves; 8-4 win over Braves; 5-0 loss to Braves.

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 12-13 // minus-8 // tied for third, 6.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

Notable performances/trends: Reds hitters walked more than they struck out Monday, a very rare occurrence. … With Homer Bailey out for the season due to impending Tommy John surgery, hard-throwing right-hander Michael Lorenzen has taken Bailey’s place in the rotation. The 23-year-old Lorenzen, ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect by Baseball Prospectus and No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, tossed five innings of three-run ball Wednesday in his big-league debut vs. the Brewers. Lorenzen allowed eight hits and one walk while striking out three. … Marlon Byrd drew his first base on balls of the season Thursday, but the left fielder is still among the worst hitting regulars in the National League. … Also on Thursday, Mike Leake tossed eight scoreless innings and smacked a solo home run. … The Reds are 0-4 in Sunday games this season. … Billy Hamilton is off to a slow start on the plate, slashing .204/.260/.333, but when the speedster has reached base, he ranks as the NL’s top base runner.

Notable Reds quote: “We’re not just running around like chickens with our heads cut off.” — Reds outfielder Jay Bruce to The Cincinnati Enquirer, emphasizing the preparation element factoring into to the Reds successfully stealing 29 out of 30 bases so far in 2015.

Movie scene that sums up last week: With Bailey and Donald Lutz—a part-time Red in each of the past two seasons—each needing season-ending reconstructive elbow surgery; Devin Mesoraco’s hip limiting him to pinch-hitting duties; and Zack Cozart getting hit with a pitch on his left wrist and suffering a bruised right index finger/split nail on Sunday, the Reds are quickly becoming the walking wounded. The run of poor fortune is reminiscent of Harry and Lloyd reaching their breaking point post-parakeet decapitation in Dumb and Dumber.

As the (Reds Lineup) World Turns: With Joey Votto getting the day off Wednesday, Todd Frazier moved into the No. 3 hole, which led to Bruce hitting fourth for the second time this season. In 2014, Bruce batted cleanup in 18 of the team’s first 24 games. … Cozart (.308/.340/.538) has hit second in each of the last six games, pushing Votto back to the No. 3 hole. … It’s odd how committed the Reds are to keeping the struggling Hamilton in the leadoff spot. (Insert cliche about how you can’t steal first/speed is useless if one can’t reach first base.)

As the (Reds Leadership) World Turns: The Reds could use some steadiness after a crazy injury-filled, expletive-filled, and bullpen meltdown-filled month of April. On paper, May should be an easier month for Cincinnati, with only two games opposite a team presently over .500 coming against the Royals on May 19 and 20. (There are 12 contests vs. the talented-but-underachieving Pirates, White Sox, Indians, and Nationals, however.) It’s another month for manager Bryan Price and general manager Walt Jocketty to figure out if this team’s present roster is destined for a .500-ish record—nod your head, “yes”—and if that’s the case, where do the improvements come from?

Reason for OPTIMISM/pessimism: It’s always fascinating to see a glimpse of the future, and that’s what Reds fans received Wednesday with Lorenzen making his initial big-league start. Lorenzen, who recorded just one full season as a starter in the minors, and before that, had not been a full-time starter since he was 12, is a reminder of why hope springs eternal in baseball. The Reds certainly hope Lorenzen will be a massive contributor on their next “run,” the same way Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Leake, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, and Brandon Phillips—some of whom probably won’t be around when Lorenzen should really come into his own in 2017-2019—formed a talented young core of three 90-win teams from 2010-13.

Who’s next?: After an off-day today, the Reds continue their road trip with three games in Pittsburgh, followed by a trio of contests in Chicago to play the White Sox, the first time the Reds and the South Siders will have clashed since June of 2009.

Movie scene to sum up the week ahead: The enthused reciting of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in Mr. Deeds, which will undoubtedly reflect the extreme level of excitement the Reds will display flying into Chicago for their first games at U.S. Cellular Field since June of 2001.

Notes from around the National League Central: To make room for Lorenzen on the 40-man roster, Bailey was moved to the 60-day disabled list, and Manny Parra was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Hard-throwing righty reliever Carlos Contreras was called up from Triple-A Louisville when Bailey was originally placed on the 15-day DL. … Ryan Braun— Lorenzen’s favorite baseball player while he was Cal State-Fullerton—whooped Lorenzen and the Reds’ collective behind Thursday. … The Cubs were cleared of possible tampering charges surrounding the hiring of manager Joe Maddon. … Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen logged his 1,000th career hit. … Brewers center fielder and two-time All-Star Carlos Gomez (right hamstring) was activated off the disabled list on Saturday. … The Cardinals swept the Pirates over the weekend, winning all three games in extra innings. The teams combined to play 35 innings over the three-game set. … St. Louis’ 18-6 mark—the best record in baseball—ties a club record for a 24-game start to the season. … The Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke Sunday, and then moved quickly to install his replacement: Former Milwaukee infielder Craig Counsell was named the next Brewers manager earlier today. Counsell, who has no managerial experience, was previously a special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin.

Notes from around Major League Baseball: The Braves are paying Dan Uggla nearly $13 million this year. Tuesday night, Uggla hit a go-ahead three-run home run to beat the Braves. … After Monday and Tuesday’s White Sox-Orioles games in Baltimore were postponed due to public unrest in the area, the two clubs played Wednesday in a series finale that was closed to the public. … Former major league player and manager Kirk Gibson, whose home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is one of the most dramatic and unforgettable moments in baseball history, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. … Thursday, Marlins starter/generally-awesome baseball player Jose Fernandez threw to live hitting for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May. … Alex Rodriguez clubbed his 660th home run Friday, tying Willie Mays for fourth atop the all-time home run list. The Yankees claim they won’t pay Rodriguez his $6 million “marketing bonus,” though. … The Astros, who lost 416 games from 2011-14, are an American League-best 18-7, which is the best start in franchise history.

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

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