Aroldis Chapman hadn’t given up a run all year before yesterday. He’s now surrendered the losing run in two consecutive games. That’s the law of being human taking a victory lap. But the pitching staff only allowed two runs which should be good enough.

The Reds haven’t hit well enough to win. Billy Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier combined to go 0-15.

Roster management continues to be a significant headwind. Bryan Price had no one who could pinch hit for a player batting .103 at the end. This was the first game it really hurt to not have another infielder on the roster — that’s the opportunity cost of carrying Devin Mesoraco. To make matters worse, Price sent up Skip Schumaker instead of Mesoraco in the one pinch hitting opportunity that was available. The Reds manager is still apparently letting left-right platoon issues dominate his thinking on that, instead of reasoning that one of those two players is a washed up veteran and the other one isn’t.

Atlanta2, Reds 1 | FanGraphs Game Data

Mike Leake pitched six innings, the first time in three games he’d allowed a run. In a few innings he was sharp. In others, he needed a Houdini act. Leake struck out one and walked two.

The Reds were facing a tough pitcher in Shelby Miller. The one run they scored came on an infield hit, a Jay Bruce ground ball that found a hole, a HBP and a sacrifice fly. They managed only four hits – two by Brandon Phillips –  and two walks. Jay Bruce missed a two-run homer by a couple feet.

Kris Negron made three outstanding defensive plays tonight. He was a last-minute substitute at shortstop for Zack Cozart. Negron hasn’t hit much yet this year (understatement) but he’s been super-valuable as a competent defensive replacement all over the field.

In the top of the sixth, with the score tied 1-1, the Braves had the bases loaded and it looked like the Reds might need to bring in a relief pitcher with the game on the line. Bryan Price had Pedro Villareal warming up. When the situation called for bringing in one of the bullpen’s best pitchers, it was breathtaking to realize that Price would have chosen the worst. Price must have decided that Villareal’s role was the sixth inning, regardless of the situation.

Aroldis Chapman aside, the bullpen has been a disaster under Price’s management. What has he seen in the past year or so that leads him to believe his slavish devotion to The Roles is working?

The Reds shed Kevin Gregg today, putting a spotlight on a series of bad decisions made by the organization. The worst of those was Bryan Price’s judgment to put Gregg in the 8th inning set-up role at the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Tony Cingrani struck out the side in the seventh inning. Seems he’s a lot sharper when he hasn’t rotted on the bench for a week. Jeff Brantley, former relief pitcher, made the same point on the TV broadcast. “I did that job a long time, I’d rather you wear me out than not pitch me.” Ditto for Jumbo Diaz who pitched a clean eighth.

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and gave up his first run at GABP in over 33 innings. He pitched well, but allowed an uncontested steal of third base and then threw a wild pitch. Little things like that make a big difference when the offense is struggling.

58 Responses

  1. Kywhi

    Let’s hope this two-game “skid” for Chapman represents his worst at a time when the Reds’ putrid offense probably would not have scored a run if you had put the ball on a tee. Tonight’s game was a continuation of the top-of-the-order’s performance yesterday when Cozart was left stranded on second after tying the game with no outs. Frustrating is an understatement.

    • jdx19

      I think 8 balls have been put into play against him the last 2 games and 6 have gone for weakish singles. Chapman is fine. No one has a 0.00 ERA for long. It’s baseball.

      • Big56dog

        exactly what I was going to write, I thought it was bad luck Sunday- how often does a pitcher give up 3 straight singles? Usually Chapman cannot find the strike zone when he is off, or there is a HR. I think he only gave up 2 Hits in an appearance twice last year and never 3. Just Bizarre that teams were able to string them together

    • pinson343

      There was nothing wrong with Chapman’s pitching in last night’s game. His fastball was 101-103 with command, he was throwing nasty sliders for strikes, he was sharp. The first two singles were ground balls up the middle on easy swings. The middle single was a golf shot bloop on a pitch two inches off the ground.

      Chapman gave up a run because of the steal of 3rd and the wild pitch. Keep in mind that Freeman’s hit was an infield single (nice play by Negron).

      • sultanofswaff

        And yet, if you look at the pitch calling, Chapman/Barnhart/the bench keeps calling for the same pitch multiple times in a row. THAT’S why he got knocked around. On Sunday it was the overreliance on the fastball, yesterday it was 4 sliders in a row to Freeman. These are major league hitters, they can adjust to anything if they see it enough.

  2. jdx19

    As noted on the game thread, it’s pretty unbelievable that after Votto’s start, he’s now basically at his career wRC+ (155 this year, 154 career). Thankfully, his career average is MVP-level.

    Let us all hope this funk ends quickly!

    • Steve Mancuso

      I’ve never seen him roll-over on so many pitches. It’s like he’s become pull happy recently.

      • jdx19

        Yep. Certainly agree. A few games back I noted that he had a streak of 8 straight balls in play being weak ground balls to 2nd base. And depending on classification of LD vs FB, he hasn’t hit a fly ball in something like 6 games.

      • Steve Mancuso

        It could be because he’s getting pitched tight inside all the time. But I haven’t looked at it closely enough to know whether that’s the case.

      • jdx19

        Yeah, I haven’t done a Brooks deep-dive in a few days. Tonight, though, using the stupid ESPN strike zone that is always up, it was amazing to see how precise the Braves pitchers were. Not a single pitch that could be considered “solidly in the zone.” Every pitch was either out of the zone wholly, or touching the line of the zone painted on the screen.

      • VaRedsFan

        I think you nailed it right there Steve. He is being pitched inside more and more. When they go away, it is off the plate away. He will have to adjust.

      • VaRedsFan

        I like the stupid strike zone graphic that ESPN uses. Different strokes I guess.

      • sultanofswaff

        At the game on Sunday, I was surprised at how many times he swung at the first pitch. I think this is part of the cat and mouse game between the advanced scouts and a hitter who is trying to stay one step ahead.

  3. RedAlert

    Schumaker pinch hits before Mes in a crucial situation – been there , done that with this manager – Bryan Price is and has been in over his head for a long time now and it’s not getting any better – meanwhile Castellini sits back and watches Rome burn

    • jdx19

      While I certainly share your distaste for Skip, the ESPN broadcast provided a very interesting snippet.

      At the time of Skip’s PH, all Reds PHs not named Skip were 0-28 (with some walks) and Skip was 3-11.

      Before anyone jumps on me about SSS, I’m not offering this tidbit as support for any sort of argument. It’s just an interesting point-in-time.

      • jdx19

        Gah, I got the numbers wrong. Other PHs were 0-20, not 0-28.

      • pinson343

        Another interesting point is that Mes did not have enough ABs to find his rhythm until this past weekend, and he looked awfully good on Sunday.

      • jdx19

        I agree Mes should generally be first out, but there’s really nothing to suggest a hitter needs “rhythm” to perform.

      • reaganspad

        I think saving Meso for the last ab when we need a long ball is not good strategy. Our starters save Marquis have kept us in the game and Chapman until the last few days has been good.

        I would rather have Meso be the first PH option off the bench regardless of matchup to get him an AB.

        Actually, I would like him starting in LF everyday or at least starting at DH for every game like we thought he was going to be used since not being DL’d

      • wdwrolen2713

        I think that says more about the putrid state of our bench, especially with Cozart out and Mesoraco injured.

      • Big56dog

        Kind of hard to debate that, thought the same thing, Price probably trying to bait them into bring in the lefty then they could counter with Mes. Gonzalez probably realized this and stuck with the Schu match-up.

  4. sunbreakthedawn

    BPDatdude also hustled out two 1st to 3rd’s on the night. He was the only offense.
    Imagine if Chapman could control the running game like Cueto does. That would have changed the game. I do love watching Leake pitch. His fundamentals are textbook!
    Overall it’s disheartening to see the Reds and the recently fire sold Braves neck and neck. Mesoraco needs to go on the DL ASAP. No way Grits should be batting in that situation.

    • pinson343

      All good comments. Chapman was sharp with both his fastball and slider, the run scored because of the stolen base and the wild pitch.

      • Big56dog

        How come that was not a PB, it hit Tucker right in the glove, maybe I need to see it again but that pitch should have been handled

  5. Robby20

    I’m not defending Price by any stretch of the imagination but this is a putrid roster that Jocketty and Castellini have given him to work with. And for those expecting the Jay Bruce hot streak in May maybe it is time to suggest he get himself in shape.

    • George Mirones

      What!!! and possibly hurt his feelings, My, My they can’t do that.

    • jdx19

      Curious, do you literally mean “in shape,” like go jog on the treadmill?

      He looks physically the same to me as he’s always looked. He’s never been a svelt, cut-up guy like Stanton.

  6. George Mirones

    IS Reds management very touchy about negative press? Petition got a lot of play nationally, Gregg got gone. HMMM food for thought?
    If the manager is playing the lefty/righty thing, it is amazing that Mes got any at bats last year as a starter . Didn’t he bat against some right handed pitchers once in a while? Oh well another loss, 2 games under 500 on 5/11/15.

    • pinson343

      Last year Mes batted 269/.342/.541 against RHed pitching.

      • lwblogger2

        Someone pointed out yesterday that although Price seems to forsake L/R platoon splits for his pitchers, he seems to strictly adhere to the notion for his pinch-hitters.

  7. pinson343

    Going with Schumaker to PH in that situation can’t even be justified as a platoon thing, Pena is a much better LHed hitter than him: 375/.446/.417 so far this season, .270/.308/.381 in his career.

    Is Pena secretly injured ? Someone should ask Price in front of a lot of cameras.

    • Big56dog

      Did not want to pull his back-up catcher in the 7th, I wonder in Barnhart hits if Negron got on in the 9th?

  8. pinson343

    In reply to my own comments, was Pena not used to PH because there’s no emergency catcher ? Three catchers on the roster and there’s no emergency catcher ?

    • CTRedsFan

      I suspect Skip got the call because of his 3 hit game on Saturday and because, as pointed out above, he is the only Red with a pinch hit this year. All things considered not a bad call by Price. It does however, demonstrate how weak the bench is and how poorly constructed the roster is.

      • Scot Lykins

        Putting Skip up there was not a bad call. The problem was the best he had to put up there was Skip.

      • IndyRedMan

        Mesoraco…..that’s why he’s still on the roster supposedly? They talk all off season about gaining some power off the bench then they use Skip everytime in crunchtime w/2 total HRs as a Red

      • MrRed

        That’s the thing. Skip wasn’t the best option there. They could have used Mesoraco who apparently is feeling well enough that the Reds are still talking about getting him back to catching this year. If they’re going to keep Mes on the roster, then this is the situation that you have to use him for.

  9. VaRedsFan

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this happen to Chapman every year? A couple of bad outings (results in this case, not performance) in a row, before he refocuses and starts being Chapman again?
    By focusing, he does need to pay attention to base runners more.
    He used to have an A+ pickoff move….what happened to that?

    On the ESPN feed, they showed Chappy after the inning, in the dugout. He wasn’t a happy camper.

    • Matt WI

      When he’s really dialed in, there are no runners to worry about!

    • jdx19

      The results of his outings were bad, but he didn’t have bad outtings. His velocity and command seemed fine to me in both games.

      It’s baseball. Those hitters get paid millions of dollars to hit, just like Chappy is paid to pitch. Sometimes they win.

  10. Paul

    “The Reds haven’t hit well enough to win. Billy Hamilton, Marlon Byrd, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier combined to go 0-15.”

    And that sums it up. You can’t fix that with a couple of bench players or by demoting a relief pitcher.

    • Mike V

      Very well said .. The guys who should be performing on offense are not doing it. Granted pitching is dominating the game .. but even more so vs the Cincinnati Reds .. Unless the offense improves and soon .. etc etc etc ..

  11. sultanofswaff

    Brandon Phillips is playing about as good as we could possibly hope, and yet he’s OPS’ing .711 right now. That’s only good for 7th in the NL (Chase Utley last at .430, yikes).

    The Reds owe him $27 million for 2016 and 2017. I’d gladly sacrifice his contribution to a possible playoff run this year in order to get out from under his contract. Maybe that money could be used to extend Mike Leake……or Zack Cozart (heh heh, just kidding).

    SELL SELL SELL!!!

    • IndyRedMan

      I think BP is 34 and he can prob veto certain trades anyway? Its unlikely? If Bruce ever hits again then maybe we could deal him? If someone wants Cueto bad enough maybe they could force them to take BP or Bruce? It won’t matter in the end because Jocketty would just screw up something else? Pay the wrong people…sign some more washed up ex-Cards, etc

      • Matt WI

        BP can veto trades based on being in the league over 10 years and having spent 5 years with the same team. So it complicates it to a degree, but we’ll never known unless they ask. It’s worth thinking about.

    • Matt WI

      I was thinking the same thing last night. If there was ever a moment to at least try and move him… An injury to the right guy on the right team maybe.

      In the meantime, sure appreciated his hustle last night.

  12. Eric the Red

    1) Price is starting to use the bullpen correctly….although why Villareal was loosening is a terrifying mystery. If Cingrani had been used properly earlier in the season we have 3-5 more wins.

    2) I think it’s time to try Frazier in the 2 hole.

    3) I’d forbid Hamilton from bunting. I mentioned this before yesterday’s game, and it was on full display last night. Even in ABs where he doesn’t bunt he often shows bunt, usually watching a strike sail by. He’s not good at it, and it’s messing with his head/rhythm/whatever. Just get in the box and get ready to hit the ball. I really think this would help him. Revisit the subject later, but for now: red light on bunting.

    • charlottencredsfan

      I’d take it a step further: just stand up there and hit. No herky-jerky stuff, keep your head and feet still, complete square stance, no faking the bunt BS, no running out of the box until “after” you make contact with the ball.. Watch JV and try to emulate.

      Billy is not so special that he can defy the fundamentals of solid hitting. Someone needs to clear that up for him. Pete Rose has advised Billy all he needs to know.

      • i71_Exile

        Totally agree. Billy needs to come to grips that his talent has taken him as far as it’s going to and he needs to start his graduate course on hitting with Mr. Votto.

    • wdwrolen2713

      Totally agree with Frazier in 2 hole, Byrd as of right now makes way more sense in the cleanup spot as he seems to be bast power bat right now. Though I would really like to see a return to the two hole for Votto, he really hit stride in that spot. If I was Bryan Price I would have:
      Hamilton/Phillips
      Votto
      Frazier
      Byrd
      Bruce
      Cozart
      Pena
      Hamilton/Phillps
      Pitcher/Hamilton
      Billy really is the x-factor when it comes to the Reds. If he could get on base, I would have him hit in front of Votto in a heartbeat. Of course if I WAS Bryan Price, I’d get a bar of soap to stick in my mouth before any of this.

  13. Tom Reed

    Offense, when needed, has been the Reds weakness for the past few seasons and continues. I sensed a certain uplift last night with the release of Gregg. A trade of some kind is needed to jolt this team offensively. Two tough loses, but that’s baseball.

  14. Redgoggles

    This team’s scoring (as constructed) is overly dependent on the long ball. That, in combination with the train wreck bullpen will make .500 an accomplishment considering how many tight games will go against them. I hope the GM/owner has the courage to call a spade a spade and sell a few of their valuables (Cueto, Cozart) at peak value.

    • Redgoggles

      Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind after the next 10 game winning streak.

    • reaganspad

      this team has always been about the long ball and getting shut out by soft tossing left handers

  15. Big56dog

    So what is wrong with Cozart? There is no reason Negron should not have been pinch hit for, given that Mes is just a PH they had to have a back-up inf called up instead of Villareal, what is the point of having Contreras on the roster and why was he not warming up in the 6th?