Reds Review/Preview: Week 6

 

 

Results: 7-1 win over Pirates; 3-0 win over Pirates; 7-2 loss to Pirates; 10-4 win over White Sox; 8-2 loss to White Sox; 4-3 loss to White Sox; 2-1 loss to Braves.

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 15-17 // minus-6 // fourth, 7.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

Notable performances/trends: When Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth inning of a six-run game on April 4, it was the first time he had thrown in a week. That, of course, makes no sense. … Even with his career-best walk rate, defending Jay Bruce and his .170/.282/.358 slash line is making less and less sense. … On the other hand, another struggling Reds outfielder is coming around. Marlon Byrd had a streak of five consecutive two-hit games end last week, but has bumped his batting average 44 points to .213 over his last 10 games. … Anthony DeSclafani has cooled down after impressing early in his Reds career, allowing 11 hits, nine walks, and seven earned runs over 10 innings during his last two starts. … Even after missing a few games with a wrist injury, Zack Cozart (.324/.369/.549) remains broiling at the dish. The shortstop’s two-run double tied the game in the ninth inning Sunday. … With their loss Sunday, the Reds are now 0-for-8 on getaway days. … After Kevin Gregg’s latest debacle (0.2 innings pitched, three earned runs), Reds fans started (and closed) a change.org petition calling for the club to send the right-handed reliever to Triple-A. Those fans got their wish Monday as Gregg was designated for assignment. … Mike Leake’s 19-inning scoreless streak ended in the fourth inning Monday night.

Notable Reds quote: “I feel like as a Major League player, I have a responsibility to be a good example for younger players. And making contact with an umpire is unacceptable. During this entire thing, that’s the one thing I feel very remorseful for. I think it was something that just crossed the line. Just because I have a verbal disagreement with someone, doesn’t make it OK to have physical contact with someone. In all of this, that’s the thing I regret the most and I’m not happy about it. As Major League players, we have a responsibility to keep everything. We can push the limits as much as we want but never cross that line.” A portion of Joey Votto’s apology after the Reds first baseman was ejected for bumping home plate umpire Chris Conroy during Wednesday’s game in Pittsburgh. Votto was later suspended for Saturday afternoon’s series opener in Chicago against the White Sox. (Random fact: Conroy was the first-base umpire in Pittsburgh for Homer Bailey’s no-hitter in 2012.)

Movie scene that sums up last week: Much like Brian Fantana’s rash decision to wear Sex Panther cologne in Anchorman, the Reds were asking for stinky results—much like a raccoon finding its way into a copier—if they continued to employ Gregg. It remains to be seen if Jason Marquis (5.10 FIP) will suffer the same fate as Gregg anytime soon.

As the (Reds Lineup) World Turns: A notable inclusion in the second tilt of Saturday’s doubleheader vs. the White Sox was Devin Mesoraco, the Reds catcher-turned-$28 million pinch-hitter, whose hip impingement has prevented him from catching in a game since April 12. (The impingement will require season-ending surgery sooner rather than later.) However, Mesoraco claims to be able to run and hit without pain, and with the Reds playing 10 games, including this past weekend, in American League parks through the middle of next month, it appears Cincinnati’s decision-makers have made the correct decision to keep Mesoraco on the active roster so he can serve as the club’s designated hitter in road games vs. AL foes.

As the (Reds Leadership) World Turns: Quite obviously, Votto should not have gotten himself tossed from Wednesday’s game–even if the truth around his ejection remains murky at best and hilariously ill-conceived by Conroy at worst. In any case, Votto took his medicine and apologized–which is miles more than can be said for his manager, Bryan Price, who offered half-assed regret for his F-bomb-heavy, media-directed tirade before a game in Milwaukee last month. (It was apropos for the Reds to issue Price’s “apology” via Twitter when the crux of Price’s venting session was centered around his absurd view of modern journalism.) I’m not sure what all of this means. I love that Votto is among the National League leaders in the oh-so-meaningful stats like RBI that old-school baseball cranks in the Queen City cling to because they watched the Big Red Machine set a new standard for offense in the ’70s. I really love that Votto is also among the league leaders in the new-age stats (wRC+, wOBA, OPS) that matter more to him because those numbers are more indicative of what it means to be a well-rounded hitter. I love that people think Votto’s only shown personality this season, when in fact in he has delivered stand-up-comedian-level material in the past. In any case, it’s cool that Votto is doing well on the field, and it’s refreshing to see that when he has a moment of weakness, Votto is willing to own up to his wrongs. I can’t offer the same view of his manager. (Hat tip to Redleg Nation for the genesis of the Votto-Price comparison.)

Reason for optimism/PESSIMISM: It was another week of uneven play, questionable lineup decisions (a struggling Billy Hamilton remains in the leadoff spot), more-than-questionable bullpen moves (Gregg in another close game, misuse of Chapman), and Jason Marquis (don’t even get me started).

Who’s next?: The Reds kicked off a seven-game homestand Monday night with the first of three opposite the Braves. Cincinnati welcomes the world champion Giants for four games on Thursday.

Movie scene to sum up the week ahead: Chris Tucker’s dance from Rush Hour after blowing up Chris Penn’s car. If I were one of the few Giants players or coaches that’s been along for the three-World-Series-titles-in-five-years ride, I’d roll out of bed every morning and perform that exact dance.

Notes from around the National League Central: The Reds named Barry Larkin minor league roving infield instructor. Larkin, who interviewed for the open Rays job this offseason and managed Team Brazil at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, made mention of how much he enjoys working with young players, but said he’s not ready to be a full-time coach. … A nice article on MLB.com about Reds director of minor league administration Lois Hudson, an invaluable resource for Reds farmhands. … Michael Lorenzen is (smartly) soaking up every ounce of pitching acumen he can from Johnny Cueto. … The Cardinals rallied from a 5-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Cubs on April 4. The two clubs combined to log five walks/hit batsmen, six hits, and nine runs after St. Louis first baseman Mark Reynolds clubbed a one-out grand slam in the home half of the first. … Wednesday was the 17th anniversary of former Cubs right-hander Kerry Wood fanning 20 Astros in his fifth major-league start, equaling the record for most strikeouts in a game. … Wednesday night, Brewers broadcasting icon Bob Uecker and others were stuck in a radio booth for several innings. … Former reliever Kyle Farnsworth is getting his J.J. Watt on playing semi-pro football in Florida. Farnsworth, who is listed at 6-4 and 230 pounds,  and famously dropped ex-Reds pitcher Paul Wilson like third period French while pitching for the Cubs in 2003. … Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter didn’t play at all over the weekend against the Pirates because of “extreme fatigue.”… Saturday, the Pirates turned the first 4-5-4 triple play in MLB history. … Cubs catcher David Ross pitched a 1-2-3 inning Saturday night in a 12-4 defeat to the Brewers. In that same game, Cubs phenom Kris Bryant hit his first career home run—and in turn was greeted with an empty Chicago dugout.
Notes from around Major League Baseball: MLB.com released its Top 30 International Prospects list early last week, and a name near the top of the list should be familiar to baseball fans: Vladimir Guerrero (Jr.) (Editors note: Guerrero’s nephew, Gregory, also made the list.) … Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby, who once held the same position with the Reds, was suspended 14 (!!!) games following a postgame exchange with umpires. … Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st home run Thursday, passing Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list. … Former Reds outfielder Chris Heisey made his debut with the Dodgers Thursday. Heisey, who was drafted by Cincinnati in 2006 and played with the Reds from 2010-14, was traded to Los Angeles in December. (Matt Magill, the pitcher the Reds acquired for Heisey, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery—as did Bailey—on Friday.). … Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had himself a hell of a week. Harper crushed three home runs Wednesday, including a pair of upper-deck bombs. In Washington’s next tilt on Friday, Harper hit two more runs. For his pièce de résistance, the outfielder walloped a walk-off home run Saturday. Reminder: Harper, now in his fourth big-league season, is just 22 years old.

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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