A season ago, the Cubs lead the MLB in walks with 656 on their way to winning the World Series. Pitchers simply have to throw strikes to the Cubs, or they will take walks all day long. Pitchers cannot get by with tempting pitches outside of the zone very often.

The first seven pitches that Cody Reed pitched this afternoon were balls. He ended up walking the first two batters, and then gave up a three run home run to Anthony Rizzo. It was Rizzo’s second three-run home run against the Reds in about 15 hours.

The Reds offense fought back in the bottom of the first. Joey Votto answered Rizzo’s three run home run with one of his own. Eugenio Suarez followed that up with a solo home run later in the inning, and the Reds had a 4-3 lead.

The Reds lead didn’t last long.

Cody Reed walked two more batters in the second inning, and with two outs gave up a grand slam to Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras. It was 7-4 Cubs, and they never looked back. Reed only lasted two innings in his first start of the season, giving up five walks and seven earned runs. Walks always haunt, but even more against the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds started the season 7-2. They are now 2-7 since, and their record is down to .500. The Reds now trail the Cubs in the division by 1.5 games. The Reds have lost 20 of their last 24 games against the Cubs.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (9-9) 8 14 0
Chicago Cubs (10-7) 12 9 1
W: Arrieta (3-0) L: Reed (1-1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread

Biggest Play of the Game

According to Fangraphs WPA statistic (winning percentage added), the most important play of the game was Cody Reed allowing a grand slam to Wilson Contreras with 2 outs in the second inning, giving the Cubs a 7-4 lead. That play decreased the Reds chances of winning by 33.0% (from 57.6% to 24.6%).

Other important plays (+/- indicates how much each play increased/decreased the Reds chances of winning):

  • -17.4% – 1st inning – Reed allowed 3-run HR to Rizzo with 0 outs. Cubs lead 3-0
  • +14.6% – 1st inning – Votto 3-run HR off Arrieta with 0 outs. Game tied at 3
  • +10.0% – 1st inning – Suarez solo HR off Arrieta with 1 out. Reds lead 4-3
  • +10.0% – 1st inning – Error on Baez on Gennett ground ball, runners on 2nd & 3rd, 0 outs. Cubs lead 3-0
  • +8.8% – 2nd inning – Votto RBI single off Arrieta with 2 outs. Cubs lead 7-5


Joey Votto hit a three-run bomb in the first inning, and then drove in two more runs later in the game. He is now on pace for career high 54 home runs and 126 runs batted in. Votto hit 2 home runs in the entire month of April last season. He already has 6 this year, and the Reds still have 7 games left.

Eugenio Suarez hit his 4th and 5th home runs of the season, and went 3 for 4. Suarez continues his torrid start, and is now hitting a .373/.448/.746.

Jose Peraza had a two hit day at the top of the lineup.

Lisalverto Bonilla made his Reds debut, and had his first big league appearance since 2014. Bonilla did a really nice job getting through five innings in relief, and importantly saving the Reds overused-of-late bullpen. Bonilla was far from perfect, as he did walk three batters and serve up a three run bomb. But he did what was needed of him. You could see some of the upside with Bonilla, as he did strike out 5 batters. All five of his strikeouts came on off-speed pitches, including two on 92 MPH changeups!

The Reds offense had a great day, scoring 8 runs and collecting 14 hits. They also made a late push in the 9th inning, which at least made Cubs closer Wade Davis have to start warming up.


Cody Reed was pretty terrible this afternoon. The first 7 pitches of the game were balls, and he ended up walking the first two batters. He then gave up a home run to Rizzo, and it was quickly 3-0. The home run to Rizzo happens, he is a great hitter. But what is inexcusable is walking back-to-back batters against any team, especially the incredibly patient Cubs. The Reds fought back for Reed, and got him a 4-3 lead. What did Reed do to oblige them? He walked two batters in the next inning which lead to a grand slam.

Reed hasn’t struggled with command for most of his career. He did give up a lot of home runs last year. My best guess is that he was too worried about giving up the long ball that he tried to nibble to much. You have to be smarter than that against the Cubs. They aren’t going to fall for bad pitches often. This is a learning experience for Reed. Hopefully he can get better from it.

Jason Heyward had a big sliding catch in the 4th inning. He doubled up Suarez on first base. If that ball gets past him, it would have been a one run game.

Scooter Gennett badly misplayed a fly ball that cost the Reds a run in the 5th inning. It’s almost like his isn’t a rightfielder?

Scott Schebler went 0 for 4. He is now hitting .153/.242/.339.

Not so random thoughts………..

I don’t fault Bryan Price or Michael Lorenzen for blowing the game last night. Those kind of things happen, and Rizzo’s home run was about as cheap as it gets. That said, yesterday’s heartbreaking loss just makes today’s loss even worse. The Reds margin of error against the Cubs is so slim. There will be days the Cubs go nuts like today. The Reds can’t afford blowing three run leads in the 9th inning on the other days.

Scooter Gennett‘s bad misplay (mentioned above) was not an error (which is technically the right call). That is why you should put zero stock into a position players fielding ability based on errors, and also why you should use caution with earned run average for pitchers.

Up Next:

Cubs at Reds
Sunday, 1:10 PM
TV: FOX Sports Ohio
Bronson Arroyo (8.40 ERA) vs John Lackey (4.00 ERA)


All photos are used courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Sam Greene, and used by permission. All statistics are used courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, and ESPN Stats & Info.

21 Responses

  1. Simon Cowell

    all 3 pitchers that played today didn’t look very good. Either the Cubs are in a league of their own or our pitching was just not that good. Either way Cubs in first place. boooo!

  2. james garrett

    Walks lost us the game but our offense fought till the end.It will get better but our young guys must stop nibbling because they don’t have to.Their stuff is good enough.Solo homers don’t beat you its the three run shots and grand slams that beat you just like today.Tom Browning comes to mind when I think of solo homers.He gave up a bunch in his career but he never walked guys.He said here it is and lets see if you can hit.He did this with average stuff at best.

  3. TR

    I’d like to know if the Reds hitting coaches at the minor league and the major league levels put emphasis on the need to work the count and get their pitch before swinging away. There’s no question that walks upset the pitcher. The importance of walks should come down from the top and that means the GM.

  4. jveith1991

    So in other words, Votto is on pace (albeit only 3 weeks into the season) to become the 2017 NL MVP. Garrett is likely leading the NL Rookie of the Year race. How long will it last?

  5. jveith1991

    Looking at the comments from Cubs fans on the ESPN app, it would appear the sky is falling. Several claimed that Arrieta isn’t a very good pitcher, and many bemoaned the Cubs’ bullpen. This coming from fans of a team in first place and that just won the World Series…

  6. csmountaineer

    Yes, games like last night hurt. Games like today hurt. But man, I sure am excited about these Reds going into 2018 and beyond.

    I’m not necessarily giving up on the 2017 season after the last two games, but my point is this season isn’t really about this season (like we were preaching going into the year). This is a significantly different and significantly better team than the one we saw play most of 2015-2016. And it’s only going to get better.

    Lets go Reds.

    • jveith1991

      Once Jesse Winker comes up for good later this season and Nick Senzel (hopefully 2 weeks into April 2018), this lineup will get an instant boost. Herrera could make a difference also. Assuming Winker will eventually take Schebler’s spot, where will Senzel play in 2018? Suarez has to play everyday. What about Herrera…where will he end up?

  7. jveith1991

    If there’s one thing to keep Reds fans optimistic about the rebuild this season, it’s remembering the fact that the 2009 Reds and the 2014 Cubs both had losing records and finished fourth and fifth respectively in the division. The following year, both teams went to the postseason.

    Look at some (almost all) of the position players that played with the Cubs in 2014 who are no longer with the team: Welington Castillo, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena, Chris Coghlan, Arismendy Alcantara (who in 300 PA batted .205/.254/.367 with 10 HR), Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Emilio Bonifacio, Mike Olt, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, and John Baker. Only Anthony Rizzo (616) and Javier Baez (229) had more than 200 PA and are still with the current team. As for WAR, only Castro (2.1) and Rizzo (5.2) exceeded two. The total WAR for batters was 8.4.

    The Cubs 2014 starting rotation and bullpen was its strength. Arrieta in 25 starts had a 2.53 ERA, Jason Hammel in 17 starts had a 2.98 ERA, Jeff Samardzija in 17 starts had a 2.83 ERA, and Kyle Hendricks in 13 starts had a 2.46 ERA. Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson both had an ERA over 5. Pitching WAR totaled 15.9.

  8. james garrett

    We don’t look to walk because we have a swing first mentality.I am not sure where this comes from or how we got there as a team but it is never more obvious as in today’s game.The data that Steve posted says it all but will anybody address it.We have our number 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup that have no power and get to the plate more then the other guys yet they don’t walk at all.Why would they ever swing 2-0 or 3-1?Maybe our young guys need to be given the take sign more often.

  9. jdwestrick

    Walks, walks, walks! The Reds manager & pitching coach need to read Tom Seaver’s book! No defense for a walk, walks turn into runs and the most important out in the inning is the first one! And why is a middle infielder playing right field? No available outfielders in the Reds minor league? Winker maybe?

  10. Scotly50

    The Cubs entering this series were not playing well. They feast on our pitching.

    The walks were a result of our staff just not wanting to throw the ball over the plate.

  11. Chuck Schick

    Pete Rose and Barry Larkin are 2 of the best players in the history of the game. Billy Hamilton is one of the 10 best players on the defending 29th best team in baseball.

    Given Hamilton propensity for injury, it’s a pretty pragmatic move to rest him in a game in which the probability of success ( vs Arietta) is rather low. Outside of the Cubs and perhaps 2-3 other teams, the Red’s chances of winning are 50/50. Why not have him focus on the more winnable games of you need to rest him 20-30 games anyway? A very San Antonio Spurs like approach

  12. Simon Cowell

    Maybe their pitching matchup was just better. Walks are important but the better pitcher won today.

  13. Chuck Schick

    They’re developing more young pitchers because they have more young pitchers given that is who they received in trades. It’s not as if they chose pitchers over hitters. They took the best players offered and they happened to be pitchers.

    If this were a contending team, having Hamilton and Peraza at the top of the order, based on their current rates of on base attainment, would be dumb. Given that they are still building, doesn’t it make sense to see if 2 incredibly fast players who could reek havoc on the base paths can get on base consistently? Wouldn’t that ultimately be extremely beneficial? They could move them down in the order and perhaps win 78 games instead of 74 but you’ve lost an opportunity to see if they can actually develop some OBap prowess. Why waste the opportunity?

    • Chuck Schick

      Many successful rebuilds are very non linear. Take a look at the 2014 Cubs roster ( year 3 of rebuild) and outside of Rizzo and Arrietta, there are a lot of guys who might actually be dead at this point. They were constantly bringing in cast offs to fill holes and buy time. They made lots of moves that made no sense at the time that in hindsight made a lot of sense.

      It’s very possible that neither Perraza nor Hamilton will ever get on base consistently enough to bat 1-2. However, I would rather see them lose 4 more games this year to know for sure.

  14. bouwills

    It’s way too early to make wholesale changes. I’d suggest the Reds may want to move Suarez up to 4th & slide Duvall to 5th. It appears that Votto’s bat is awakening. Opposing pitchers may want to pitch around Joey to get to Duvall. Less chance of that with Suarez following Votto in the lineup.It was a disappointing outing by Reed but decent first outing by Bonilla. The ebb & flow of young inconsistent ballplayers.

  15. Indy Red Man

    I just watched Suarez’s 2nd hr. Joey has hit some monster bombs to left-center but I think thats the only Red I’ve seen hit one oppo that far! He is locked in but too bad most of everyone else falls apart at the wrong time. Dan Straily w/7 ip, 14 Ks, and 2 earned tonite….really hope Castillo works out because Straily was a rock solid 4th-5th type guy. I’d be shocked if Bailey ever contributes again so we need a veteran influence! I don’t know what they do with Reed but his slider never looks like a strike so nobody is going fishing for it and the fastball couldn’t be any straighter! I think I like Rookie better. Bob Steve’s stuff is nasty but he can’t throw enough strikes either? We’re in a pickle always playing for 2nd in the division.

  16. Indy Red Man

    Tyler Mahle with a perfect game!! Wow….this kid is crushing AA this year and he’s only 22! At this rate he’ll be in AAA pretty quick!

  17. james garrett

    I have no problem with Billy/Peraza at the top forever as along as we give other guys the same rope.If we want to give them the rest of the year to prove they can or can’t how about Reed,Stephensen,Winker and a slew of others be given the same chance.

  18. big5ed

    Reed’s performance was very discouraging. Like last year, he got too amped up, and threw the ball time and again about 6 inches inside (to RH) and 1 foot off the ground. Over and over and over. And he was afraid to throw his fastball to the meat of the order. It was probably a mistake to throw him against the Cubs at home; maybe in Milwaukee would have been better.

    But at some point he needs to have better control over his emotions. I’ve seen 5-year-olds with better poise. We know he can pitch; he went into the start having given up no hits in 8 innings. But he is starting to look like he has a $10 million arm and a $3 head.
    AAA won’t help him, because you can’t get over being intimidated by major leaguers by pitching in the minor leagues.

  19. spaulson50@gmail.com

    Reality can be tough pill to swallow. As I said three weeks ago, we’re putting tremendous hopes on starting pitchers who are young and inconsistent. Reed took a major step backwards. Walks are a killer. Until that changes, I have little faith going forward. When are Finnigan and Reed going to figure it out?