Final R H E
  Milwaukee Brewers (81-78) 3 6 2
  Cincinnati Reds (74-85) 5 10 0 
W: Holmberg (2-2)    L: Gallardo (8-11)     S: Chapman (35)
 FanGraphs Win Probability |  The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

Today’s game is an example of what our team was supposed to look like all year. Games like this one, Johnny Cueto’s 3-1 win on Tuesday and the 7-2 win over St. Louis on Sunday when the Reds got homers from Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco and two from Jay Bruce. This was supposed to be a team that could win with offense or top-notch starting pitching.

David Holmberg gave up two runs and allowed only four base runners in six innings. He struck out two. This was Holmberg’s *fourth* consecutive start giving up two runs or fewer. Those four games were against teams in postseason contention — Milwaukee and St. Louis.

The next time you hear someone assert that competent Major League pitching is an irreplaceable scarce resource that has to be hoarded, politely disagree and welcome that person to the hitting-starved decade of 2010s. I’m not saying the Reds should necessarily trade a starting pitcher in the offseason (much more on that next week), but if fear of a trade like that paralyzes you, think of Tony Cingrani replacing Cueto in 2013, of Alfredo Simon replacing Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos in 2014 and of Holmberg and Dylan Axelrod replacing Homer Bailey the past few weeks.

Brandon Phillips hit his first home run since June 28 (video). He has eight this year. Bruce was 3-for-4 with a double (video of RBI single). Yorman Rodriguez and Brayan Peña each had two hits.

Phillips and catcher Tucker Barnhart combined for a sharp defensive play in the fourth inning, preventing a run (video). Phillips fielded a sharp ground ball off the bat of Aramis Ramirez and fired a throw home. Barnhart fielded a low throw and stretched out to tag the streaking Ryan Braun just as he reached the plate.

Aroldis Chapman earned his 35th save, pitching his 52nd inning of the season (about the same number as Holmberg and Daniel Corcino combined) although he seemed to struggle with his health a bit. Chapman has now faced 195 batters this season, striking out 101. Think about those numbers. That strikeout-rate of 51.8 percent is the all-time best for any major league pitcher with more than 50 IP in a season (previous record 50.2 percent, Craig Kimbrel, 2012).

The win over the Brewers knocked Milwaukee out of contention for the postseason. The Reds won the season series 10-9 over the Brew Crew.

Now the Pirates come to town for three games and the Reds have a chance to spoil their plans, not only for the NL Central championship, but also for hosting the play-in Wild Card game.

28 Responses

  1. jessecuster44

    nice win. Go Reds. Holmberg has been a nice surprise the last couple of games.

  2. Drew

    Bigger disapoint this season the Reds or the Brewers? Reds never lived up to their potential but the Brewers jumped out to a huge start to only trip up and fall from division leader with a top record to missing totally out on a 5 team playoff system.

    • pinson343

      For the fans of the teams, the Brewers collapse was more painful and shocking. The Reds died a slow and painful death after the All Star break, it was tough. But the Brewers late collapse after leading the division most of the season has to be a nightmare for their fans.

      And we could see in person this series how they’ve folded: TOOTLBANs, errors, just plain bad play.

  3. WVRedlegs

    Holmberg has finished very strong. In those last 4 games, 2-1, 23.2 IP, 14 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 HR, 8 BB, 14 K. Only 5 R but 4 HR. Certainly some areas to improve upon, but something nice to build on in the off-season. Remember how Bailey finished out 2011 strong and hit his stride in 2012. Two different pitchers, but it’d be nice to see Holmberg come into his own. Holmberg’s finish is going to help make the off-season decision making even more interesting now.

    • Drew

      It’s also nice he is only what like 23 years old and really didn’t cost us much to acquire.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yes on the age. That’s good. But I disagree on the ‘didn’t cost much’ part. We were trading Ryan Hanigan to the Rays. Even though the Reds had rightly decided to move on, the Rays coveted Hanigan so much they immediately signed him to a three-year deal. That level of interest should have produced an impact prospect. Holmberg may still become that, his mediocre minor league season notwithstanding. It’s good to know he can be an emergency 6th starter if that’s the best way for the Reds to use him in 2015.

      • Drew

        Did we know pre trade how much the Rays wanted him? It’s easy to look back now and say we should have gotten more for a back up average catcher I guess.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Part of being good at the trade business is studying and understanding your trade partners’ needs. I believe the Reds thought they were getting a good pitching prospect in the deal. I’ve heard that when Holmberg showed up he was nowhere near the pitcher the Reds thought they were getting – both in terms of stuff and conditioning. And as I said, he may end up being a solid bottom-of-the-rotation guy or a reliable bullpen arm. I was only disagreeing with the notion that trading Ryan Hanigan was not much.

      • jessecuster44

        So, essentially Walt got snowed by Tampa Bay. Interesting. Maybe the Choo trade was the last good deal he made for the Reds.

    • Steve Mancuso

      The Reds may or may not need another starting pitcher. If Holmberg could just be the long guy in the bullpen or a LOOGY, that would make a major contribution next year.

      • pinson343

        As usual, hard to evaluate a trade until much later. Price thinks that Holmberg is better than he’s shown even in his good starts. To me he would seem to have a Travis Wood ceiling. But we’ll see.

  4. Robby20

    Looking forward to your piece next week on the off season. If the Reds stand pat again this off season it will be a very long 2015. I’m one who thinks this group is done and changes need to be made to shake things up and get more offense. As comprised this is a very boring team and that was true much of last season as well.

    Time for changes and time for someone to ask why the minor league system is so thin?

    • RedsFaninPitt

      I would not say that their farm system is thin at all. It was just thin at the AAA level this year. But, many of their best prospects will be promoted into AAA next season. The Reds farm system is very rich in pitching and outfielders and relatively strong at 3B. They are thin on middle infielders and catchers, IMO. Living in Pittsburgh, I follow the Reds and Pirates farm systems closely. Of course, the Pirates have been rated as having a top 5 farm system the past couple of years. But, I would say the Reds are just as good now and probably even a little more diverse since the Reds now have some good middle infield prospects (Blandino and Daal) at the lower levels of their system, and they have more and better 3B prospects (Brean, Rahier, Sparks).

      • tct

        I still don’t think the reds farm is nearly as good as the pirates. For the guys you mentioned, Daal made a ton of errors this year and had an empty batting average- low walks, no power. He has to hit over 300 to have any offensive value. Blandino is interesting, but I haven’t heard of anybody who thinks he can stick at short. Sparks has tools, but was striking out over 30% of the time in rookie ball at age 21. Rahier had a couple decent months earlier this year, but besides that he hasn’t hit at all as a pro. The reds didn’t do him any favors by putting him in Dayton at 19 when he couldn’t even hit in Arizona rookie league the year before. I like SMB. I would be interested to see if he could play second base in addition to third and first. He could hopefully be like a poor man’s Ben Zobrist. But he really struggled in Pensacola. They do have some outfielders, but Ervin was horrible this year, wrist injury or no, as a 22 year old in A ball. Not a good sign. Love Yorman, but sooner or later he’s got to turn that projection into production if he’s gonna be a major leaguer.

        It just seems like the reds got really poor production from most of their top prospects, especially when you look at what other teams, like the cubs and Dodgers, got from their top guys this year. Stats aren’t everything in the minors, and there are plenty of other things to consider when trying to project what a player will do at the MLB level. But as they say, the best indicator of future performance is past performance, and many of the reds prospects just aren’t performing that well.

      • ohiojimw

        I think one of the more significant things about the Reds “prospects” is that largely they are still potential MLB prospects. AA and AAA have a way of separating the chaff from the wheat and that is precisely the stage the Reds “next generation” is approaching.

      • tct

        Exactly right, Jim. If most of your depth is below AA, then you probably don’t have as much depth as you think you do.

  5. vared

    Anybody know how big the Brewers had that NL Central lead up to earlier this year? Not to mention their gap from the 2nd wildcard spot. They let a big one slip away.

    • pinson343

      I didn’t look it up, but I recall the Brewers having a 6 and a half game lead at one point.

  6. Thegaffer

    Its just ironic that the reds had no more than 3 viable starters for ten years 2001-2009. Now they have 6 or more now plus more on the way, BUT the offense has fallen off the planet. In GABP no less.

    Seems like our pitchers should have MORE trade value given this ballpark and underachieving hitters on other teams would be MORE valuable to us.

  7. pinson343

    As far as the Reds offense goes, the thing today was seeing BP at full health at last, Bruce hitting some rockets, and some production out of CF (Yorman Rodriguez).
    BP hit that low and inner half pitch the way he does when he’s healthy, golfing it way out of the park.

  8. pinson343

    Steve, I’m really looking forward to the starting pitcher trade discussion. Will hold back most of my comments until then. I agree about how the scarcity of top of the line hitters, but there are teams with a surplus of hitters who need starting pitching, such as the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rockies (I know about the Rockies problems with hitting on the road, but still feel they’re in that group).

    I like all of the 2014 Reds 5 main starters, but Cueto has to be single out as special, a legit ace. There is always a scarcity of those.

    • tct

      I think the reds match up really well with the cubs. They have a ton of young position players who have already hit at the MLB level or are projected to hit at the major league level. They don’t have a whole lot of pitching though. Unfortunately, being in the same division may prevent any big trades with Chicago.

  9. pinson343

    The Reds might give the Pirates trouble this weekend, with Simon, Leake and Cueto pitching, BP healthy, Bruce possibly hot, etc.

    I’d love to see the Reds knock them down to the 2nd wild card. That would be significant because the Pirates and the Giants both play much better at home. The memory of the way the Pirates rolled over the Reds in Cincy in the final weekend of last season, and then blew the Reds out in the WC game with their fans chanting Cu-e-to, is still painful.

    As disappointing as 2014 has been, hurting the Pirates in the final weekend would salvage something.

  10. pinson343

    The BP-Barnhart play that nailed Braun at the plate was fabulous on both ends.
    Barnhart had to scoop the ball and make a swiping tag. The Brewers broadcasters were marveling about that and BP’s catch of a bullet and perfect throw.

    Barnhart plays some really serious D and is a confident player.

  11. sultanofswaff

    I really like what I’m seeing from YRod. Hate to say it, but the way he punches the ball thru the hole into RF reminds me Larkin/Jeter. It’s an advanced approach for sure. I’m not even hung up on the strikeouts—a veteran player doesn’t get hosed on those called 3rd strikes.

    So, what could we reasonable assume Yorman would produce next year?
    Would a league average stat line as his floor make you more or less inclined to prioritize SS?

  12. sultanofswaff

    I don’t think we give enough credit around these parts to the defense, the BEST IN BASEBALL.

    Fewest errors (71), 11 fewer than the next best team.
    2nd best stolen base %.
    Best fielding %

  13. George Mirones

    Test post

    I took a look at potential trades for a LF last week.
    The profile criteria used was; under 27 years old, a wRC+ over 125, and over 500 PA.
    I came up with 15
    PA K% BABIP wRC+ AGE
    Trout 685 25.70% 0.353 170 22
    Puig 618 18.90% 0.361 149 23
    G Stanton 638 26.60% 0.353 158 24
    Rizzo 589 19.00% 0.301 147 24
    Freeman 680 20.30% 0.349 140 24
    Jose Altuve 683 7.60% 0.365 137 24
    A Rendon 667 15.10% 0.313 128 24
    S. Marte 514 24.30% 0.371 132 25
    Chisenhall 511 18.40% 0.331 123 25
    J.Harrison 519 14.60% 0.355 140 26
    J. Upton 617 26.40% 0.332 132 26
    K Seager 627 18.00% 0.302 129 26
    K Calhoun 515 18.80% 0.316 126 26
    Y. Gomes 500 22.20% 0.331 124 26

  14. George Mirones

    Test post

    I took a look at potential trades for a LF last week.
    The profile criteria used was; under 27 years old, a wRC+ over 125, and over 500 PA.
    I came up with 15
    __________ PA____ K%____ BABIP__ wRC+ ___AGE
    Trout _____685___ 25.70% __0.353__ 170______ 22
    Puig ______618__ 18.90%__ 0.361___149______ 23
    G Stanton __638___ 26.60%_ 0.353___ 158______ 24
    Rizzo_____ 589___ 19.00%__ 0.301__ 147______ 24
    Freeman __680____20.30%__ 0.349__ 140______ 24
    Jose Altuve _683___ 7.60%___ 0.365__ 137_____ 24
    A Rendon __667___ 15.10%__ 0.313__ 128_____ 24
    S. Marte ___514___ 24.30%__ 0.371__ 132_____ 25
    Chisenhall __511__ 18.40%___ 0.331__ 123_____ 25
    J.Harrison__ 519___ 14.60%__ 0.355__ 140_____ 26
    J. Upton ____617___ 26.40%__ 0.332__ 132_____ 26
    K Seager ___627___ 18.00%__ 0.302__ 129_____ 26
    K Calhoun__ 515___ 18.80%__ 0.316__ 126_____ 26
    Y. Gomes__ 500____ 22.20%_ 0.331___ 124_____ 26