Well, I can safely say I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think many of us were expecting THAT out of the first week of Reds baseball. The Reds just wrapped up an impressive win over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a very good baseball game across the board in the hitting, pitching, and defense categories.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a common theme throughout the season – these young Reds players seem to be progressing. And although a lot of the young players on the Reds are looking great, there are a few who have struggled to open up the new season. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s see whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hot and whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not:
1. (Most of) The Reds Bullpen
What was a historically awful bullpen in 2016 looks to have converted into a strength for the 2017 Reds. Through the first 27 Ã¢â€¦â€œ innings, the Reds bullpen have given up five earned runs. Five. Three of those earned runs came in an awful appearance by Robert Stephenson, who couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t find the strikezone in his 1.2 innings of relief.
The potency of this bullpen was perhaps best displayed Monday night against the Pirates. After a dominant first start, Brandon Finnegan fell into some trouble early. With the bases loaded in the third inning and nobody out, Bryan Price put his money where his mouth is and called for Michael Lorenzen to come in to pitch in relief. Lorenzen, Cody Reed and Wandy Peralta would go on to retire the next 21 batters in a row and lead the Reds to a 7-1 victory.
The combination of Lorenzen, Reed, Peralta, Drew Storen, Blake Wood, Tony Cingrani, and possibly the best Reds pitcher, Raisel Iglesias, have been nothing but dominant to start the season. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a combination of youth and ability that we havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen in Cincinnati in some time. As weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already seen, there will be some bad days from this pitching staff. But if all of the guys listed above find some stability like Iglesias and Lorenzen have, this may be the best bullpen in the majors at the end of the season.
2) Amir Garrett
Amir Garrett would not be outdone by his teammates in the bullpen. The Reds’ 2016 Minor League Pitcher of the Year went out in his first major league appearance and gave the Reds a big league start. Garrett went six innings, giving up two hits, two walks, and struck out four. More important than the stat line was the eye test for Garrett. The tall lefty looked calm, confident and in control in what had to be one of the most nerve-wracking moments in his life. The velocity on his fastball left a little to be desired, but the control and quality on his secondary pitches more than made up the difference. It was only one start, but you had to love what we saw from someone weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been talking about for such a long time.
3) Eugenio Suarez
The last spot on the Three Up list came down to Zack Cozart, Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez, but at the end of the day, Suarez got the nod. His 220 wRC+ leads all Reds batters, and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the owner of a couple of good looking home runs.
Perhaps more importantly, SuarezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ defense at third base seems to have made a giant leap forward, which has already paid dividends for the Reds in the form of a very clutch double play on Sunday afternoon. Suarez also has the more realistic BABIP of the three sluggers in contention for this spot, sitting at .385 as compared to .438 for Duvall and .529(!!) for Cozart. A gray #7 Reds jersey might just be the next piece of clothing I purchase.
Honorable Mentions: Zack Cozart, Adam Duvall, Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman
1. Robert Stephenson
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d rather not talk about StephensonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1.2 innings of relief, but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re here, so letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dive in. It was painful to watch the guy experts have been naming the Reds’ top prospect for almost half a decade struggle so badly. Stephenson just couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t locate his fastball, seeming to try to power it past hitters and flying open far too often. Stephenson actually had more control over his breaking ball, and turned to that in order not to completely collapse on the mound.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the kind of outing youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re hoping is a one-time thing, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also the kind of performance weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve heard of Stephenson having in the minors on more than one occasion. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to hoping whatever is going wrong with this kidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mechanics or mindset can be corrected, and that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get back on track to being the Reds’ most exciting young pitcher.
2) Bronson Arroyo
We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to expect going into the 40 year old Bronson ArroyoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first start since 2014. And in fact, I think you could view his start as a win from a few different perspectives. However, at the end of the day, ArroyoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two walks and five earned runs in four innings of work was just not enough to give the Reds a chance to win. It also didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t accomplish the job he was hired to do, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eat innings. Bronson will need to show that he can come in and throw strikes for 5 or 6 innings in order for his reunion tour to be deemed a success.
3) The Reds Bench
Despite the two home runs from Scooter Gennett, the Reds bench has gotten a pretty awful start to 2017. Arismendy Alcantara is hitless. Patrick Kivlehan and Stuart Turner both have a hit each. And the only two hits Gennett has had are the aforementioned home runs. The depth in the minors is such that the bench doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily matter as far as filling in for potential injuries go, but through the first week, the Reds once again have one of the worst benches in baseball.
Dishonorable Mentions: Joey Votto, Jose Peraza, Rookie Davis
WhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on your Three Up, Three Down list? Leave a comment below, or tweet at me either at @JordanBarhorst or @redlegnation. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d love to hear from you throughout the week to help build next weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Three Up, Three Down.
I might go with Lorenzen, Garrett and Duvall on the 3 up but no complaints with Suarez instead. Three down would be Stephenson, Peraza, and Arroyo.
Peraza has been as advertised, he will end up at .300/.320/.390. Now you may say that is not good but that was always the reality.
Pretty sure no one is going to say a 300 BA is not good. That’s HOF numbers over a career.
I think the Frazier deal is turning out to be a good one. He was expensive and I hate to see it, but Frazier has obviously been struggling for Chi (though he somehow did drive in a good number of runs last year). I see Schebler as an emerging, solid OF who can take walks and hit for some power.
I think Peraza will grow offensively as he matures. I thought he showed some power last year (a couple of long HRs at SD and Mil, I think). His play at SS has been good. A very nice play gunning down Marte last night from fairly deep in the whole with the bases loaded.
My 3 up same as yours…
My 3 down….
Votto will be Votto, tiny sample size. After last year no one can say that Votto can’t comeback from a slump!
Votto will be Votto until he isn’t. At some point father time is going to slow down his reaction time and bat manipulation skills to a point where he can’t successfully spoil pitch after pitch after pitch until he gets a pitch to hit or draws a walk.
@ZachENQ wrote about what appears to be a marked change in Votto’s plate approach so far this year:
The gist is that Votto is swinging at many more pitches both inside and outside of the strike zone than he has in the past. He is often putting the ball in play much earlier in the count. Perhaps he has begun the process of reinventing himself for back side of his career?
Let’s hope you are correct. There are a lot of expensive years left on his deal for him to be turning into a hitter who looks to drive the first hittable pitch he sees in every AB.
Yeah, that’d make sense. They’re pounding him inside – why not try to put a few of those in play instead of fouling them off?
His adjustment last year was adjusting to inside pitches – fouling them off. Now he’s trying to put them play, and it doesn’t look like he’s far away from doing just that.
Agreed. I’m not worried about Votto, but he’s definitely ‘down’ from what he usually is. If/when he bounces back, look out.
I agree about Votto’s first AB last night. I think it took something out of Glasnow, either physically, mentally, or both. I think he had him 0-2 and then couldn’t get him out.
He has been making good decisions so far
Yeah, it’s refreshing. I keep wondering how many of the good decisions are the consequence of not having Walt suggest bad decisions. Might also want to give Williams a credit. We initially took his comment regarding the use of the pitching staff as tongue-in-cheek. Turns out there might be a bit of bite there…..
I posted this in the game thread before I saw this post: I think Suarez is primed for an Edwin Encarnacion type of offensive breakout this season. 30 HR, 35 doubles, and an OBP >.350 is within reach, IMO.
He’s definitely looking good. Typically don’t know if a player has that kind of power until he shows it, but last year was encouraging. I really like Suarez – I’m hoping to see more and more of him at SS so he’s not forced into a utility role or traded when Senzel is ready.
I’m a huge Suarez fan but Edwin Scissorhands is 30+ pounds bigger then him. I think Suarez gets in trouble with trying to be a power hitter at times and needs to work on spraying the ball around and let the power #s happen naturally! I’d like to see .280 and 25/90 and everyone would be happy!
If all Scooter does is hit home runs while he is here, averaging one a week, he’ll be on my ‘3 up’ list.
I like this type of article. Is thing going to be a weekly occurrence?
Yep! We’ll have a Three Up, Three Down every Tuesday morning.
Stuart Turner has done a good job at catching when he has been spelling Tucker Barnhart. No, he has not hit, and he is probably over matched against Major League pitching. But he has played VERY WELL as a catcher.
The relief work last night was just a little bit on this side of unbelievable. I would like to see Reed repeat what he did last night a few more times. At times, he seemed a little wild, and at times he seemed overpowering. If he can get in a good groove with his release point and repeating his pitches, then he slides into the rotation when they pull the plug on Bronson.
What happened to Finnegan last night should be a cautionary tale about “optimism” for all the young guys in the rotation. I hope that Rookie Davis bounces back tonight and gives them at least 6 innings. And also watch out for Amir Garrett tomorrow night, if his control escapes him as it did Finnegan last night.
Bryan Price said something in the post game interview about Lorenzen regarding him being a starter: he’s still a “young man” and his future might be anything, but they “need” him this year in the bullpen. The door may be open to him starting at some point in the future, was my take on Price’s comment.
That was my take too when I heard Price make that comment about Lorenzen….not this year but wasn’t ruling out him starting in the future.
I’m sure the Reds have several guys that could be good setup men to replace Lorenzen if he went into the rotation. I think the problem is they don’t want to put guys like Romano into relief when they still have starter potential! I wonder if they could go out and get a guy? Raisel could be the fire department multiple innings guy and Storen is the 9th inning guy. They have a chance to be much better this year and it would be a travesty to let a couple of unnecessary holes in the rotation do them in!
I’m just tired of the stopgap Marquis, Simon, Arroyo, blah blah blah. Its almost a guaranteed loss every time and it saps any momentum the team can put together!
To be fair, Simon and Arroyo both saw success in a Reds uniform, but i know what you mean. Luckily it seems like we’re about to start erring on the side of youth, rather than erring on the side of veteran “leadership”
After seeing Peraza’s throw from SS last night, maybe he COULD pitch too, lol.
That was a strike for sure. Something about that play gave me the warm fuzzies inside.