A few games ago, Bryan Price’s handling of the Reds bullpen – pulling starter Brandon Finnegan in the third inning for Michael Lorenzen – triggered a tidal wave of acclaim (CBS Sports, Cincinnati Enquirer, FanGraphs, and here at Redleg Nation) directed toward the Reds manager. The basis for applauding Price was his apparent disregard of traditional baseball thinking, namely reverence for the Save statistic. Price announced an intention to put the best pitchers in the toughest situations and ignore the pursuit of individual statistical accomplishments.

“Don’t worry about saves, holds, etc,” Price had said. “Just help us shake hands after the game.”

Tonight, Price made exactly the opposite decision in managing the 5th inning and Scott Feldman, the 34-year-old starting pitcher. Feldman had thrown over 80 pitches through four innings, yet was allowed to bat with two runners on and two outs in a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th. Then Feldman was allowed to pitch the 5th. He walked the bases loaded with one out and Price visited the mound.

A thoroughly modern Bryan Price would have ignored the Win statistic and pulled his fading starter, who had at that point had thrown 100 pitches. Eight *eight* members of the bullpen fully rested, the obvious choice was bring in a better, fresher arm.

Instead, Price stuck with decades of managerial devotion to their starters’ attempts to qualify for a Win and left Feldman in. Dusty Baker would have been proud.

Apparently Price’s “etc.” didn’t include pitcher Wins.

Feldman induced a double play and the bullpen imploded in the 6th and 7th innings. But that the Reds and Price were lucky to get a ground ball hit at an infielder doesn’t matter. Price’s creaky decision making provided powerful evidence of the clear limit of his commitment to modern baseball thinking.

Cincinnati Reds 4 • Milwaukee Brewers 10 || MLB || FG || Statcast

Scott Feldman gave up three runs, four hits and five walks in five innings. He struck out two. Feldman, of course, didn’t get the win.

Don’t ask me to explain the pitcher use in the next two innings. The two best arms in the Reds bullpen watched on as the Reds lost the lead in the 6th inning. Blake Wood and Wandy Peralta squandered the narrow margin. In the 7th, with the Reds now down three runs, Michael Lorenzen gave up four runs. Lorenzen’s pristine ERA of 0.00 ballooned to 5.14. The bullpen was overdue for a night like this.

Cody Reed continues to work his way out of the crowded “need to send him a message” dog house and into the starting rotation. Reed, wearing his new goggles, pitched two clean innings with 2 strikeouts. He’s started the season with 7 shutout innings and 7 strikeouts.

Zack Cozart, the hottest hitter in baseball coming into the game, put the Reds in front with a two-run homer in the second inning to deep left field. Eugenio Suarez, who had singled, scored ahead of Cozart. Joey Votto mashed a 422-foot homer off the batter’s eye against Milone in the third inning to make the score 3-0. Patrick Kivlehan, who got a start in right field, had two hits and was hit by a pitch.

No one was on base for the Votto home run because Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza were in the midst of a brutal display of failure to get on base. Entering the game, the Reds #1 and #2 hitters had recorded 84 plate appearances with just one walk. Tonight, Hamilton and Peraza combined 0-for-8, including several 0ne-pitch at bats. They have identical .289 on-base percentages. If you’re in favor of good at bats that work the count, you won’t find them at the top of the Reds batting order.

Bryan Price passed up at least four opportunities to give Jesse Winker an at bat. Then with a rally kept alive in the 9th, Winker was sent up to hit for Billy Hamilton. He struck out in his first major league at bat.

The Cubs lost again today. They appear to be in free fall that can only be explained by the crushing pressure of trying to keep up with the Reds. Or something like that.

Valuable perspective from our esteemed leader:

29 Responses

  1. James Abernathy

    Brennaman and Welch had their own lovefest moment for the win statistic during the game as well. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Welsh.)

  2. Simon Cowell

    I’m not ready to save Price is unfit nor unchanged after one game of questionable decision making. Could be that the decisions he made had nothing to do with winning or losing. Could be he was trying to mature the pitcher. Did you think about that before deciding that Price was an unchanged manager from last year?

    • hof13

      While I agree I doubt the decision to leave Feldman in was due to trying to “mature” him, there could be a myriad of reasons why the decision was made besides “going for the win”. I have a hard time questioning someones motives for doing what they do, especially when I’m not directly involved in the situation. Seems … harsh. Wish we could talk about the decisions without assuming the omniscience of knowing motivations.

    • Joel Herzig

      I’ll speculate that the bullpen management had more to do with trying to “mature” or test the bullpen guys not named Lorenzen or Iglesias and see if he had other arms that could handle high leverage situations. I’m not saying it was the right decision. But if that were the reason, given that this was only game #11 in a 162 game season with a lot of young pitchers both on the team and trying to make the majors, I would at least understand it. As far as keeping Feldman in? Maybe Price just “felt” he had another inning “in him” and happened to win at the roulette table for that one inning.

  3. Chad Dotson

    Still mostly impressed with Price’s performance thus far this season, but the criticism above is certainly justified. Maybe Price didn’t burn “The Book,” he just tossed it behind the couch temporarily.

    • Geoff

      With the go ahead run at third and two outs in the 6th, I would have brought in Iglesias. That is where the game was on the line

      • Vicferrari

        The game is on the line in lots of places, seems silly to criticize the situation in the fifth since it actually worked. You cannot bring Iglesias for every high leverage situation in the middle of every game 1 run or tie game. Let alone he will only pitch in 70 games all season, wood has got to get that out, Kiernan has got to make that catch. Plus if you burn Iglesias in the 6th, you are right back at it in the next innings

  4. Scotly50

    I love the adjectives. Joey Votto “smashed” his home run but Cozart only hit his. But I am loving Votto’s aggressive approach, so i am going with the “smash” myself.

    I agree, the pitching was due for a game like this, just wish it was against a better team. The team’s overall hitting is worrying me. And i would also like to see a little plate discipline from the top two.

  5. Chuck Schick

    Are you actually criticizing Price for making a move (or lack of a move) that worked instead of going with the guys who were shelled an inning earlier than when they were shelled?

    If one rigidly adheres to modern baseball thinking then doesn’t that limit progress and advancement? 15 years ago modern baseball thinking taught us that defense doesn’t matter and stolen bases are taboo….OBP is really all that maters, Then OBP became too expensive, defense and speed became such outliers that a team that was fast and could catch the ball was able to develop advantages. Modern baseball thinking evolves all the time.

    • Jim Walker

      Price has pretty much established the mantra this year that when he has a lead, he is going with his best and running for the door at full speed. Tonight with Lorenzen and Iglesias both full rested and capable of finishing out the game in tandem, he switched course and sent in the “B Team” instead.

      If Price would have brought Lorenzen into the game in the 6th to the same result he produced in the 7th, that’s life.However, giving Blake Wood and Wandy Peralta first shot at turning the game upside down is reversion to old form.

      • Jim Walker

        Wood had issues which forced the 5 out save by Iglesias in Pittsburgh.

        Still, I was not so much degrading Wood and Peralta as pointing out that Price chose not to go with his best when he had a lead and needed 12 outs, which they could have gotten for him, to win the game.

    • Chuck Schick

      Perhaps Price was trying to push Feldman. Perhaps Dick Williams “suggested” they should see how Wood and Perlata perform under pressure in case Lorenzen becomes a starter. Perhaps there were proprietary analytical reasons. Maybe he’s a bad manager. Maybe he had a concussion. Maybe his first dog was named Wandy.

      There are often reasons that a manager will deviate from modern baseball thinking….or any kind of thinking. We may not care about wins and saves, but the players do…..and more importantly their agents really care. Is it possible that Lorenzen’s agent has expressed his displeasure that his client is the most important reliever, yet will likely not have any relevant stats to assist at contract time? Extremely possible…..if not probable. Would that be an ongoing battle Williams wants to fight in what will likely be a 90 loss year? Probably not.

      • Chuck Schick

        Pre-arbitration, none of it matters as the Reds can just pay him whatever they want regardless of what their public pronouncements happen to be. If I’m Lorenzen’s agent, I don’t trust the current arbitration process to be able to adequately handle a true outlier.

        I agree with you that it’s evolving, but most arbitrators know very little about baseball and are very mindful of the precedent they are setting when a non closer is awarded closer money.

  6. Geoff

    Just can’t go on long slumps. Still in first place need to win the next two.

  7. Jim Walker

    I don’t get sending Lorenzen into the game at -3 runs with only 9 offensive outs left. If Reed was at the top of the to be used tonight list that was the spot for him versus a purely mop up role.

  8. GreatRedLegsFan

    What was the problem with bullpen management tonight?

  9. L.A. Red

    Mancuso you are the man (sometimes)! I loved your recap for tonight’s game! I wasn’t able to watch it but after reading this I feel like I know all I need to know.

    • L.A. Red

      Never actually spoke to you but I can hear your sarcasm!

  10. Scott Carter

    Bottom line we have four losses 2 were starts by Feldman where he couldn’t get to sixth inning because of high walk rates and the other two by Arroyo whose fastball is about the same speed as Garrett’s change up but without location. And those are the two veteran “leaders” of the staff that is supposed to save the bullpen innings. Sat least it sounds as if Arroyo has enough sense to know that the end is near for him.

    • Classic Liberal (@Conservative58)

      Agreed – feel we’re about to get the article compare/contrast Adleman vs. Feldman/Arroyo as starter to eat innings. Still, walk rate very low by bullpen so they may be figuring that out.

  11. Nick Carrington

    Arroyo has pitched only 10 innings in two starts. Finnegan only 9. Davis pithe seven in two starts. The entire rotation has struggled with efficiency so far, and it will affect the bullpen. Not that worried about Finnegan, but I am the others.

  12. james garrett

    We got lucky when Feldman got the double play in the fifth period.There were lots of questionable decisions on Price’s part beginning with why he let him hit with two on in the bottom of the 4th knowing at best he would pitch only one more inning.The pen was due to give some up but why not Lorenzen in the 5th or to begin the 6th.We praised Price when he jerked Finny last week but now he returns to his usual self.Lorenzen pitching down 3 runs at any time is a waste.Sure he could have gave up the lead just like Wood and Peralta but we will never know.One step forward and two steps back.Feldman and Bronson serve no purpose unless they can give us 6 or 7 innings and keep us in the game.Finally letting the game slip away while your two best relievers watch is just plain dumb and then to put one of them in after you go down 3 runs is even dumber.One step forward and two steps back

  13. Still a Red

    I didn’t see anything in the short Price interview on Gameday that indicated he was trying to get Feldman a win. Watching the game, it seemed to me he put his trust in a veteran pitcher to get the job done. Was it risky…yes. Was it lucky it worked out…maybe so. Maybe it was a lesson to the younger pitchers on how to stay cool and get out of a jam. Now, why Wood vs. Lorenzen I dunno. With a one run game, I think I would have gone with the guy who’s been dominant and not the guy who, while good, is just as likely to be shakey. Maybe the outcome would have been the same. Most damage was done by hitters with 2 strikes and pitchers counts…bad pitch calling or bad execution??

  14. Eric The Red

    THOM! continues to be even worse than usual, barely even paying attention to the games even when they’re close/exciting and then occasionally offering his wonderful “insights”. To be fair, he was talking about baseball briefly in the 9th….when he went on a rant about the batter swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a big lead. His rant made no sense since the count was 3-1, and while ranting he missed another very good defensive play by Suarez.

  15. Reaganspad

    Feldman bad now in 2 of 3 starts

    Bronson bad in 2 of 2 starts

    We have taken a team who was hitting 210 or so and made them the 27 Yankees. Momentum from a starter is such a big deal

    What s the status of DeSclafani?

    I would rather be watching bad starts from Reed and Stephenson

    Don’t care that we invested millions in Feldman, I’d move him o the pen now. The reason we got him was to show leadership but Reed or Stephenson can both walk 5 guys in a start. I had no idea he could not control a running game

    Bryan Price loses his pitcher whisperer status I anointed him with just a few games ago. Hey if the team kept winning I would be on board but we have lost 2 in a row and dad gum it there needs to be change. Hope Winker gets a start today.

    Should Peraza and Billy have a mandatory first pitch take sign today’s?

    Lots of kids. Mesoraco coming back soon will help with leadership

  16. Eric The Red

    Regarding the decision to let Feldman bat in the 4th, the cumulative impact of all these short outings has to be taken into account. Tomorrow you’ve got Finnegan going, and he didn’t even get through 3 innings with a five run lead last time. (Stephenson is probably his “backup” today if throws 100 pitches in 4 innings or something.) Then you’re starting a rookie. I’m with you on walking Pina, and maybe with everyone who says Feldman shouldn’t have been allowed to finish the 5th once he got in trouble, but Price is having to manage a starting pitching staff where no one can be counted on for even 5 good innings on a given day. You don’t pinch hit in the 4th in that circumstance.

    • Chuck Schick

      Exactly. Great points.

      You can’t manage a game in April like it’s Game 7 of the World Series. A manager has to be mindful of what ancilllary impact any move may have.

    • Reaganspad

      Actually, you can

      Plenty of pitchers at AAA to shuttle. Right now I like Adelman better tha Feldman

  17. VaRedsFan

    Well described Cossack. Seemed like a no-brainer.