Well, there went the 1-game winning streak.

Cincinnati Reds 3 • Milwaukee Brewers 4 || Box || Play Log || Statcast

23-year-old Sal Romano made his 16th start of the season for the Reds. That’s two more than the club gave to Bronson Arroyo, before his 40-year-old shoulder reached checkmate. Romano pitched 5.2 innings while striking out 7. He walked 2 and gave up 7 hits. Romano’s 2-out walk in the 6th inning proved fateful as a subsequent double drove in the run.

Luke Farrell, Wandy Peralta and Cody Reed checked the Brewers for the next 2.1 innings.

Patrick Kivlehan hit his 9th home run. Over 201 plate appearances, Kivlehan has an ISO of .194, which is really good. He draws walks at a way-above-average rate (10.9%), has played 1B, 3B and all three OF positions. What more could you ask for a bench player making league-minimum salary? He’s on my 2018 Reds roster, unless something unexpected happens.

Billy Hamilton got picked off attempting to steal second base about 30 seconds before Patrick Kivlehan homered. Remember that every time a runner gets caught stealing or picked off stealing, it negates three successful steals in terms of run creation. Given the record number of home runs being hit, stolen bases (or playing for any individual base) has never been worth less.

The Reds strung together a single by Kivlehan, double by Joey Votto, single by Scooter Gennett and a line shot single by Jesse Winker to produce two runs in the 6th inning.

For about 15 minutes this afternoon, I thought Robert Stephenson was starting today’s game, so I did a little stat check on him. What I found argues for a little brake tapping. In his 11 starts for the Reds, Stephenson has put up a shiny 3.44 ERA, but as you look a little deeper, his FIP is 4.21 (normalizing BABIP), his xFIP is 4.81 (normalizing home runs) and SIERA is 4.96 (best of the ERA-estimators).

Here’s the problem. Stephenson is walking the house. 187 major league pitchers have thrown 50 innings as a starter this year. Of those players, Stephenson has the worst walk-rate of all of them, whether your pleasure is BB/9 or BB%.

33 Responses

  1. james garrett

    It is about over.I agree about Kivlehan for all the reasons you mentioned especially his pop and walk rate.We are miserable against lefties and he helps us be less miserable.

    • reaganspad

      Agree to on Kivelhan.

      Love that we are playing competitively but still in the hunt for the 4th pick

  2. Mark from NC

    So which is it?

    Yep, the Reds had Arroyo start 14 games this year, even though he clearly was not a viable option for the ‘next competitive Reds team’.

    Did the club really lack starts to give young pithcers? Were we supposed to keep watching Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, et al get their brains bashed in because it would help them somehow to continue to fail? Even if they hadn’t been injured during the season, it was clear they were not ready for the bigs, and there were plenty of starts to go around on the 2017 Reds.

    Who was denied an opportunity to pitch this year? Hunter Greene? I can’t imagine that folks think Mahle needed to be rushed up before he was. I dare say he got a perfect amount of time to see what it is like to be a big league pitcher, and the Reds can start him in AAA next year and bring him up in June to save that year of service.

    Which brings me to the other side of my original question: Why dump on Robert Stevenson? Did he pitch today or could you just not resist the chance to take a shot at him in todays Game Recap due to your own mental mistake?

    The reason this is so glaring stems from your shot at Arroyo. I mean, this is the other side of that coin, right? Let a young starter pitch through issues and let’s see what we can work on for next year.

    This requires that young starter to at least have a modicum of success, if you just get constantly destroyed like Cody Reed there is nothing to work with… but when you get a season like we did from Robert Stevenson we can hope for improvement and see a future.

    I am not saying I am a believer in ‘Bob Steve’ or anything close. I still think he needs to come in to Spring and win a rotation slot, not be given one. That said, I do think we have to feel ok with his season, and in the scheme of things he did well enough to justify his starts this year and give hope for future seasons.

    But to admonish the fan base to “pump the brakes” on a guy who didn’t even pitch today and did what could be expected of a rookie pitcher during a season that was supposed to be used on giving our pitching prospects a chance to learn — that’s just a bit much.

    And it comes back to which is it?

    Totally unfair to take shots at both Arroyo and Stephenson in the same article on a day when neither pitched. Not just unfair in the specifics here, but pretty darn hypocritical if taken in a larger context.

    You can certainly do better, and do it fairly. Hope to see that someday.

    • Nick Carrington

      I didn’t (and not sure how you could) read it as a “shot” at Stephenson. He didn’t say anything derogatory toward Stephenson, just that his walk rate is extremely concerning. Maybe, it doesn’t belong in this game recap because Stephenson didn’t pitch? I guess that’s fair, but he wasn’t overly critical or anything. It’s a pretty important fact that Stephenson still needs to cut his walk rate by 1/3 (a huge amount) or he won’t sustain success.

  3. Sliotar

    Mark From NC,

    Steve and everyone here fights their battles, respectfully, which is one of many cool things about RLN.

    I was going to post a comment about Bob Steve, but regarding Arroyo, virtually everyone here thought it was a mistake to sign him, let alone allow him to make the number of starts he made.

    One of my biggest surprises of this season for me was watching Arroyo get the win, beating John Lackey (before he showed us he’s done now) and the Cubs 10-9 on April 23. If you search for the game thread, we were joking how big of an underdog Vegas had made the Reds that day.

    If the Reds signed Arroyo to sell tickets….it flopped. Any other reason was sentimental or foolish, neither of which this franchise can afford, with a 3rd straight 90-loss season and possibly finishing worse than in 2016.

    • Matthew Habel

      Well said. Not bashing Arroyo, just questioning the FO decision to bring him back and use him as frequently as they did. Props to Bronson for seeing the comeback through but it did not help the Reds, minus any potential mentoring of young pitchers, which is impossible to know/quantify.

  4. Sliotar

    Regarding Bob Steve, he is in the same boat, with different flaws, as Garrett (HRs allowed), Reed (walks), etc., etc.

    Whoever wins a starting pitching job coming out of Spring Training, will Bryan Price show the same faith with them, as the Reds have shown with Price?

    If Bob Steve (or whoever) gets to Memorial Day and still is at 5 BB/9 and a 5 xFIP, will he stay in the rotation? Or, be put on the Louisville Shuttle for the flavor of the month from AAA?

    Interesting times ahead, off-season and Spring Training, with a lot of polishing and grafting still to go on most of the young starting pitchers.

  5. Reaganspad

    I am a Robert Stephenson fan.

    I think he will improve next year and be great. Maybe like Johnny Beisball who had some rough going his first year and the we watched the era go down each year.

    That said, he walked too many guys this year, I agree. I did not like the way they used him out of the pen, but I have to admit that he is not the same pitcher who started this year. Looking for more confidence and better mechanics or command from him because he wastes too many fastballs too far off the plate.

    His breaking pitches and change are more than adequate.

    • Nick Carrington

      We should be excited about Stephenson’s improvement and recognize that he has a long way to go.

      Since August, his strikeout rate and percentage have improved dramatically, and he has limited homeruns. Those are really exciting developments!

      But if his walk rate/percentage remain static, he won’t have lasting success. No one could even with Stephenson’s elite level stuff.

      He’s put himself in a good position for next year. He will need to take another big step forward.

      • Matthew Habel

        Agreed, his HR/FB rate clearly had a huge impact on his numbers. Like any young pitcher, still lots of improvement needed, but you cannot say that 2017 was a wash. Step in the right direction

    • Matthew Habel

      I am still seeing a good amount of fluctuation in his BABIP. The metrics that stick out to me are HR/FB dropping dramatically and Swinging Strike rate increasing.

  6. citizen54

    I wouldn’t be too worried about Stephenson. Since the beginning of August, his FIP has been 3.29, even with his astronomical walk rate. His main problem has been that third time though the order where his FIP jumps up to 4.41, which could simply be due to fatigue. His xFIP since the beginning of August is 4.45 around league average so to me at worst, he is #4 or #5 and has the potential to be front line starter.

    If you look at leverage splits, he has actually been lights out in high leverage situations, 2.03 FIP, 3.37 xFIP as opposed to medium leverage, 4.44 FIP, 5.47xFIP. Could be SSS.

  7. REED L BERGENstart

    Robert Stephenson, or no Robert Stephenson is a question for next season. He knows what he needs to work on, let us see if he can take the next step. More importantly, I think it is time to stop talking about bringing in FA pitchers. I think we have seen enough of Bailey to think he is a vi, able option for next year. I think Castillo has earned the chance to be in the rotation, and Romano as well. Finnegan and Desclafani, if healthy, would make five and we have not talked about Mahle or what about Lorenzen ?Finally there is Stephenson. Can we count on all these guys pitching effectively next year? Recent history says no, but the sheer numbers of candidates make adding FA starters a bit extravagant.
    Some of these guys may make the bullpen stronger, others may make Louisville pretty good. If these guys can pitch, I believe they can, they do not have to stay in the bullpen or the minors. In addition, this means there is some depth that could be used to acquire other assets.
    It will be a off season to watch. A Spring Training to look forward to and I, for one, am excited

    • cfd3000

      Agree. No need for a FA starter. If a young, cost controlled, quality arm is available for prospects that are redundant then pull the trigger. But that’s a little like saying if the Angels offer Trout for a bag of baseballs then say yes. I think the next solid starting five are already in the Reds organization.

  8. Streamer88

    To the OP:

    Randy Johnson had BB/9 of 4.9, 6.8!!, 6.2 in his age 26-28 seasons before locking it down starting around age 28-29. The guy is left handed, a beast, and had the greatest slider of all time, but my point is palpable I think.

    When there’s elite stuff at play, you throw them out there, permit 5 BB/9 for a year or two, because on the other side of that rough stretch *could* be a HOFer.

    • Sliotar

      If your comment was a reply to mine, I am not emotionally attached to any of these pitchers.

      I don’t expect the Reds to contend until 2019 or 2020, so if they think Bob Steve is “elite”, give him 30 starts next year, no matter what stats he accumulates.

      However, if it’s a rotation of:

      Bob Steve

      …will the Reds actually stick with all of them for 30 starts? And, what happens to Garrett/Reed/Mahle, especially if they starting mastering AAA?

      Are the Reds ready to trade away a couple of young (unproven) arms to get a SS or CF, in hopes of contending in 2018?

      It all feels a little unsorted, to say the least, IMO.

      • Sliotar

        Plus, I forgot Romano.

        Who gets bumped to make room for him?

  9. Soapboxes

    I check this site and the Reds everyday but I for rid of my mlbtv subscription and out in Kansas I don’t get to catch many Reds games on TV. From everything I’ve read about Sal this year, I think he is going to need to develop a 4th pitch. The competition is going to be stiff in Spring Training. If he wants to be in the rotation he is going to need to work on an out pitch. Maybe the best way to do that is introduce a new pitch to keep hitters off balance. Just my two cents

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    I was listening to the game on the car radio, and Marty made an interesting comment after a fly ball to right field that he thought Winker misplayed. I am paraphrasing, but he said if Jesse Winker is going to play every day in the major leagues, it will have to be in left, because he has not handled right field very well. I wonder if the front office types have come to that conclusion as well?

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Also, just because that is Marty’s observation doesn’t make it fact (like Joey Votto is no longer elite was his opinion at the time, not a fact). It would be interesting to know if the FO has the same or similar opinion though. Although I doubt this would happen, what if the Reds traded one of the current 3 starters, and that happened to be Billy? If they inserted Schebler into CF, could Duvall play right and Winker left if the FO doesn’t think Winker can handle RF? Has Duvall played RF in the past? Seems to me he would be able to.

  11. Still a Red

    The replay wasn’t clear, but Hamilton’s error seemed to be one of trying to position himself to throw out a runner, rather than trying to make a spectacular catch. Costly, yes…selfish, I don’t think so. Now, getting a little sloppy in trying to win the SB title, may be a little too selfish. It appears that he’s gotten caught more frequently as of late. Wonder if he’s starting to loose a step.

  12. Still a Red

    Hmmm, if 2 ot 3 of our rookie pitchers end up panning out, are the Reds going to find themselves some year down the road with a starting rotation full of free agent eligible pitchers?

    • REED L BERGENstart

      That is why it is important to keep developing pitching. I think there are prospects being developed at each level of the minors, then if you lose one, another comes along to take his place.. Extending someone or trading a future FA keeps a team from a whole rotation that leaves at once.

  13. cfd3000

    Duvall, Gennett, Hamilton. All should be available, and all have potential for some team to want or need them more than the Reds do.

  14. cfd3000

    Two of Hamilton’s three recent caught stealing mistakes were atypical. On one he got tagged out because he over slid the base. Safe by a mile but then slid slightly past the bag. That’s a mistake he has to clean up, but it’s not an indication of whether or not he can get from first to second in time. Last night he got burned by a very deceptive pickoff move from Suter. That could have been any Reds runner, it just happened that Hamilton was the first runner of the night in first. I rarely disagree with you Cossack, and I agree those two,outs hurt the Reds, but they are not in my eyes indicative of a problem with Hamilton as a base stealer in general.

    Unrelated, I thought Price gave away the game in the top of the 5th letting Romano bat with 1 out and the bases loaded. I know this game was meaningless to the Reds, but why not try to win it? One more inning or, as it turned out, five more outs don’t matter to Romano in the long run. But it would be nice to see the Reds develop the mind set that winning games actually matters. I was disappointed.

    • james garrett

      You hit on exactly what I struggle with regarding Price and even Dusty when he was here and it may be just the way it is with all managers.When it suits them they will always talk about winning and its the only thing that matters but they have a zillion excuses they can use when things don’t work out.Dusty always had his get away day line up and his well if I blow up the pen today it will cost me games down the road and the closer rules and we will get em tomorrow.Price has those because he is a clone of Dusty but he has had one thing Dusty never had and that is he has never been held accountable for wins or losses.Hopefully going forward winning games will matter but for right now and probably next year it doesn’t matter to the Reds organization.

  15. IndyRedMan

    Given the record number of home runs being hit, stolen bases (or playing for any individual base) has never been worth less

    Definitely true, but lets see how many HRs are hit in mid-late October when it gets cold? Granted…the Reds are 2 weeks (or 5 in this case) into their vacation at that time of year, but speed is usually a little more important in the post season.

    • David

      Well, the pitching in the playoffs is a lot better than league average, too. So you would expect the HR numbers to go down.
      Speed and base running ability is ALWAYS of value, but to use it, you have to get on base. OBP rears its head again.

  16. David

    Per Steve’s comment “with the increase in home runs, stolen bases have never been less valuable” is an interesting viewpoint.
    If this is true, then indeed Billy Hamilton’s value to the Reds is lessened. But of greater issue is the number that is always discussed with Billy, which is OBP. For a man in the leadoff spot, his OBP is not good.
    As Reds fans, we do generally overvalue Billy Hamilton. I think that going forward, we have to consider a replacement for Billy in centerfield. It’s not that he has NO value, but his value is, frankly, low. Being an elite CF defender is certainly of great value, but I don’t think it is enough.
    To get to be a playoff team, the Reds have to have a lot more WAR vested in virtually every position on the field than they do now, except 1st base, of course.
    The best value for advanced metrics, in my humble opinion, is retrospective analysis, when a player’s year is actually over. I think a lot of forward looking projections are for the birds, because they never anticipate a career year, or a young player’s breakout ability.
    But we do know what we have with Billy. This is it.

    • IndyRedMan

      I’ve watched the Reds nearly as much since Schebler came back, but I’ve seen him take some really bad routes for flyballs? I doubt they try to replace Billy, but I’m pretty iffy on Schebler being able to play much CF if they did? I like the idea of Lorenzo Cain! A career high .363 obp, good defensively, and would most likely hit 20+ HRs in gabp. You add Cain, Winker, and Senzel to the offense full-time and add a quality reliever or 2 with experience, then this team could go .500 atleast next year!

  17. Still a Red

    Maybe he’s hearing Winker/Erwin footsteps…not to mention our chatter.

  18. Da bear

    Heard on the radio the other day none of the last five World Series winners placed in the top five or top ten in MLB in home runs over the course of the season. San Francisco teams that won the WS didn’t hit many homers, the Kansas City Royals teams didn’t either. Not sure that sounds right with respect to last year’s Cubs. As others have previously said, when it comes to playoff baseball, speed and defense matters even more because filtering in better pitching plus colder weather means fewer homers and a greater need for base by base run manufaction.

    This includes the fundamental stuff the reds execute so poorly such as advancing runners when bunting or hitting right side of the diamond, or taking an extra base when it’s there for the taking.

    One thing that stands out with this year’s reds (past few years really) especially compared to the Cubs, Cards, and Dodgers – the Reds don’t score much later in games and rarely achieve come from behind wins. The Cubs and Dodgers in particular all season long came from behind down late in games to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – whereas the Reds are fairly adept as the recent RLN headline stated in achieving the opposite.