Like the entirety of the Reds 2017 season, this past week has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. We finally saw Homer Bailey pitch on a major league mound for the first time in what seems like forever – only to see him chased from the game in the second inning. We saw Brandon Finnegan come back from injury – only to see him leave the game with an injury. We saw a young star come up and pitch his best – while yet another one of his counterparts was sent back to Louisville for seasoning.

The Reds are solidly in last place in the NL Central, thanks to a few weeks of losing. Any thoughts of contending in 2017 should have been tempered from the start, and now are all but gone. It’s time to turn to watching the trade deadline, and hoping for next year.

But, there are still games to be played. Some of your Redlegs are actually performing pretty well! However, as expected when you see this many losses up on the schedule, a lot of them aren’t up to snuff. Here’s who’s been up and who’s been down over the last week.

Scooter Gennett

Last Week

.385/.429/.692  |  189 wRC+

With Zack Cozart on the DL for much of the Reds latest losing skid, Scooter Gennett has been given the opportunity to play every day in his stead. Replacing Cozart in the two hole, Gennett has looked right at home in the Reds lineup. In a season like this, a stretch of starts like the ones he’s received is about the best Scooter could hope for. The season is more about getting young guys reps, even if they aren’t performing (I think we all know who I’m talking about). Scooter is definitely building his case as a trade candidate, or preferably, a solid bench bat for the next few years in Cincinnati.

Reds Catching

Last 7 Days
Devin Mesoraco: 18PA  |  .333/.444/.400  |  134 wRC+
Tucker Barnhart: 10PA  |  .700/.700/1.200 |  399 wRC+

What can you say about Devin Mesoraco? While he certainly isn’t back to his All-Star peak performance, Mesoraco came back from the DL this season as a solid every day regular for the lineup. Expectations were tempered for the Reds catcher this season, and in my opinion they still should be for a while. But, Devin has proven he’s healthy and ready to play, which is more than we could say in 2015 or 2016.

Meanwhile, Tucker Barnhart continues to be one of the best backup catchers in the MLB. On the season he’s batting .285/.335/.411 with 8.4 points in FanGraph’s defensive metric, good for third in the MLB even with his limited playing time. The Reds are in an interesting position here with Tucker – he’s definitely good enough to be starting for more than a few teams in the majors, and would undoubtedly be a great trade chip. However, he’s also one of the better backup catchers we’ve seen come through Cincinnati in some time, and would provide the team with an insurance policy on the fragile Mesoraco. We’ll see how things play out over the next few weeks.

Luis Castillo

Last Outing
5IP  |  5H, 5BB, 5Ks, 2ER (2 solo home runs)

If this were any other starting pitcher, the numbers wouldn’t jump off the page at all. However, with this being a young man making the jump from AA Pensacola to the big leagues, I think you can call Luis Castillo’s first outing with the Reds a success. In a rotation that’s been plagued with inconsistency ever since the Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos trades, a little bit of this kind of performance every once in a while is desperately needed. It looks like Castillo will get a shot to stick in the rotation for a little bit. Let’s hope he bucks the recent trend of young Reds pitchers being wildly inconsistent, and sticks in the rotation for a long time.

Honorable mentions: Tony Cingrani, Scott Feldman, Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Adam Duvall

Three Down

Billy Hamilton

Last 7 days
.200/.231/.240  |  20 wRC+

This three down list will have a few regular members this week. Hamilton continues to struggle in 2017, and you’ve got to start wondering if he’ll ever get it. There’s not anything I can say about his game that hasn’t already been said in this article numerous times – his defense and baserunning continue to be above average, but how long can you live with that slashline? It’s definitely time to find a new leadoff hitter, and it’s probably time to start seeing which teams think Hamilton can be a reclamation piece for their future plans. He has no room in this crowded outfield picture for the Reds, even if he’s faster than else playing the game.

Jose Peraza

Last 7 days

Again, there’s not much here that I can say that hasn’t been said before. Jose Peraza is currently on pace to get hit by a pitch more often than working a walk of his own this season, which hasn’t happened to a qualified hitter since the early 1900s. He hasn’t taken a walk since May 21st. That kind of approach just won’t cut it in today’s game, especially as a light hitting speed type. Peraza doesn’t have the plus baserunning and defense excuse Hamilton has to stick in the lineup. Peraza’s excuse is youth, which is more credible, and maybe a little more frustrating. It will be interesting to see what the timeshare at second base will be like when Zack Cozart is healthy again.

Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan

Statistics don’t necessarily matter here, but these two starts probably went as bad as anyone could have thought they would go. Bailey got chased from the game early, after clearly having no command on his fastball. Finnegan looked passable in his first three innings, but grimaced on a pitch in the fourth and is likely headed back to the DL.

At what point do we start looking at the Reds medical staff? Somewhere along the line it seems as though someone is doing something wrong. Whether that be trainers, nutritionists, surgeons – something is wrong in the process if we’re seeing this many young pitchers get hurt at this rate.

Who were your three up, three down this week? Let us know in the comments!

21 Responses

  1. Jason Linden

    The Reds medical staff has been a popular whipping post whenever pitchers have gotten hurt/failed to recover. They go unnoticed when things go well, of course.

    Unless I missed some news, Finnegan’s injury is to a different muscle than the one that put him on the DL, which hardly seems anyone’s fault.

    As for Homer, I’ve said it here a number of times, but studies show that recovery from TJ surgery isn’t nearly as linear or as automatic as many assume. The overwhelming majority of pitchers who have it never quite make it back. A lot of them do more or less what Homer has done.

    This could, of course, be the fault of the medical staff, but absent more evidence, I’d remind everyone that teams have been trying to figure out how to keep pitchers from getting hurt just about forever and no one has solved that puzzle yet.

    • Mike Adams

      I don’t think anyone will ever solve that puzzle. The human arm was not made to throw a baseball 96 mph or for snapping off breaking pitches for years (in my humble opinion). The guys who can do it for a long time without getting hurt are rare (Nolan Ryan et al).

      • Jason Linden

        I tend to agree. I think some pitchers win the genetic lottery and their arms hold up. Others don’t. Not sure there’s an answer beyond that.

    • Chuck Schick

      Agree….Green Mt.. Castellini is a Wharton MBA. Homer Bailey is only an asset on the balance sheet if he plays. If he can’t play, he’s a multi million dollar liability with no tangible value to the Reds. I doubt that the Reds are willing to have millions in wasted assets so they can save 250k on the medical staff. Human legamints and tendons haven’t evolved to the same degree as human muscle. It is what it is.

      Also, if the Reds medical staff were actually inept, wouldn’t the MLBPA be all over that? They have all the medical data. If the Reds were a true outlier or engaged in shoddy rehabilitation they would go absolutely nuts. The most powerful and successful union in the country isn’t going to just watch their members get butchered over and over again by quakes.

    • eric3287

      To be fair, outside of the miraculous 2012 season, things have never gone well with regard to the rotation/medical staff. And 2012 was the year they completely screwed up Votto.

      Granted I don’t follow other teams as closely as the Reds (obviously) but the Reds injuries all seem to fall in to one of two categories: muscle issues or nagging injuries made worse by delayed action.

      I’m not going to throw the medical staff under the bus for Tommy John surgeries or guys breaking bones/dislocating joints. But with the Reds, more times than not, it’s a shoulder issue, a lat pull, a quad or hamstring strain. Things that, generally speaking, with a competent medical staff and proper training should be more avoidable. Or, like with Votto in 2012, they let a clearly injured player continue playing without doing the most routine checks. If I’m not mistaken, Votto went a month without an MRI in 2012.

      But more to the point, if none of these injuries are anyone’s fault, what’s really the point of a medical staff at all? For the past 3 seasons, the Reds pitching staff has just been decimated by injuries. If it’s no one’s fault, and completely unavoidable, why spend money trying to avoid it?

  2. big5ed

    You need Scott Feldman in the 3-Up: Over their last 17 games, the Reds are 3-1 in games Feldman has started, and 0-13 in the others.

    Finnegan looked fat to me. A combo of chunkiness and max-effort, and you’re going to get pulled muscles.

    Peraza is hopeless. He can’t command the strike zone, and he uses no lower body in his swing, so he can’t generate any bat-head speed. He isn’t even a good baserunner. He is about the fifth best second baseman in the organization, behind Gennett, Herrera, Shed Long and Alex Blandino, all of whom are better right now than Peraza. Whoever scout’s idea it was to pursue Peraza should be cashiered, it now being illegal to have someone drawn and quartered.

    Billy needs to choke up about two inches; it would solve a lot of his problems. Gaining 15 pounds of muscle would help, too.

    • Mike Adams

      Agree on Scott Feldman in the 3-Up. He and Castillo should be co-nominees on the 3-Up, or put Castillo down in honorable mention.
      Agree on Billy needing muscle but I wonder if those involved (him, coaches, trainers, staff, front office, agent and whoever else), are worried that it would slow him down. It could be they tried but Billy may be one of those guys that don’t add muscle no matter what is tried.

      • IndyRedMan

        Iglesias did it. He wasn’t throwing 96-100 when he came to the Reds. It can be done despite Billy’s body type or metabolism. Lorenzen is another one. Suarez is a little more solid then when he came to the Reds as well. It takes work! It may have been roids but Ricky Henderson got twice as big and he was still stealing bases like crazy. The Reds just seem to be oblivious to some obvious issues and it shows up in the standings year after year!

      • Mike Adams

        Sometimes it is just a decision on what is the best way for a player to maximize his success in MLB.
        Billy may have asked himself do I stay the way I am and be “the fastest man in baseball” or do I try to put on some muscle and weight to hit the ball harder (thereby backing up the infielders and outfielders who are cheating in a little bit)? Which of these options will give me a better contract with the Reds or in free agency?
        Could be he decided to stick with speed.

      • big5ed

        Putting on more muscle won’t make Billy any slower. Where does that come from?

      • Mike Adams

        Replying to BIG5ED below: I think the idea is if one adds about 15 pounds of muscle without losing weight in fat (Billy has none to spare), the extra 15 pounds would slow you down some. Another way I have heard this is imagine him carrying 15 pounds in weights while trying to run. Maybe it doesn’t work that way but I have heard more weight equals slower run speed.

  3. cfd3000

    This isn’t an interesting week. It highlights there three most controversial offensive players on the Reds – Hamilton, Peraza and Gennett. Here’s my two cents. Hamilton is an important asset, but should be hitting eighth (or ninth) until his OBP is consistently above .320. And I’d only start him in big ballparks and to spell the other three outfielders (Duvall, Schebler, Winker). He’d start about three games a week unless at a big outfield park, giving the other three a day of rest each. On other days he can be a defensive replacement and a high leverage pinch runner (not pinch hitter). Peraza is not the 2nd baseman of the future. I see almost no development or flashes of brilliance. He only hits the high pitch with any power, and pitchers are giving them fewer and fewer of those. He’s not an exceptional fielder, and he’s not fast enough to be a difference maker on the bases. I’d extend Cozart unless he’s crazy expensive and look to Herrera, Long, Blandino or… Senzel in the long run to lock down second base. Until then I’d let Gennett play. If the Reds choose to continue the Peraza experiment that’s fine – they aren’t winning either way until they get starting pitching help – but I’ll be shocked if he somehow becomes a solid hitter. No walks for a starter in more than a month is ridiculous. So Gennett should either start at 2nd until a prospect forces him out, or continue to build his trade value. There – that was easy. I’d say chances of these changes are approximately zero, but I can dream…

    • G L

      I agree that Gennett should start. If the Reds want to trade him, fine. Otherwise, he’s young enough that they should keep him as the starter. Send Peraza down to AAA and let him earn his way back. Frankly, I think Dixon and Long will pass him as a prospect in short order.

    • PDunc

      Peraza had 241 at bats in 2016 and slashed 324/352/411
      He has had 280 at bats in 2017 and slashed 257/284/339

      He has basically had 1 really strong half-season and only really weak half-season. This is not enough information to say definitively he is not the second baseman of the future. Especially that he has done that while only now 23 years old. Herrera is also 23, Long turns 22 in August, Blandino is already 24 and Senzel turns 23 tomorrow.

      Gennett slashed 279/318/420 for Milwaulkee over 1600 plate-appearances from 2013-16. He has hit 307/348/580 over 187 plate-appearances this season. Is Scooter having a good half-season or has he really improved?

      I’d say the most likely answer is that Peraza ends up somewhere between his 2016 and 2017 numbers and that Scooter goes back to hitting somewhere near his career numbers. If that’s the case, and given that they both can play multiple positions defensively, they both could have a spot on the Reds roster. If and when one of the other prospects forces their way up, you cross that bridge when you get there.

      • G L

        A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush. Reward the person who produces.

        Also, Gennett’s OBP is always going to be better than Peraza. His SLG is always going to be better. His defense is good. Unless you think Peraza will hit for high avg and steal a lot of bases, he is going to have a hard time providing more value than Gennett,

  4. Scott Carter

    Notice Winker was in honorable mentions, but I was wondering, since being sent back to AAA he pinch hit in one game and DNP in the next one. Is something up with him or just more poor managing from AAA.

  5. Michael W.

    “He just has to show up for work and get a lineup card in.”

    If that is all Dusty has to do, then he should be #1 on the list every week as we all know how hard it is for him to fill out a lineup card.

  6. Big56dog

    Tucker is kind of interesting in that he is a terrible RHB. Not the worst thing to have a strength of hitting RHP as a LHB, but are the Reds essentially Platooning him- he only has 25 AB against Lefties all year and it would seem dumb to start with Mes. I would think that Mes gets some starts against righties but is there any real pattern?

  7. james garrett

    Winker got a cup of coffee and a doughnut and was sent back down.Wasting another opportunity to see what a young player can do in the big leagues.Yet we send out guys to bat lead off with an OBP under .300.Just down right dumb but that’s who we are I guess.

  8. james garrett

    Nothing more to say about Billy because he is in year 4.Peraza is only 23 so he gets a pass but he needs to show some improvement at the plate.Pitchers love him because he gets himself out.