Game 1: The Best 

Cincinnati Reds 5 (16-30) • Chicago Cubs 4 (23-19)

Box Score || Win % || Reds Pitcher Statcast || Reds Hitter Statcast

Luis Castillo pitched five innings giving up one run. Castillo struggled a bit with his control, giving up four unintentional walks. He struck out four. Castillo loaded the bases in the first inning on two hits and a walk a before inducing a first-pitch double-play ball from Kyle Schwarber to escape without giving up a run. The only run Castillo did allow was on a mile-high pop-up single by Albert Almora Jr. that fell between Billy Hamilton and the infield. Kris Bryant followed with a double, knocking in Almora. 

Castillo’s one deficiency was his pitch count, throwing 98 in five innings. The Cubs lineup works every at bat, but Castillo wasted a lot of pitches after 0-2 counts on several hitters. That may have cost him a sixth inning. Castillo’s fastball averaged 95.4 mph, topping out at 96.7 a couple times. Last season, Castillo averaged 97.5 mph, good for second in MLB. His whiff rate on the fastball has increased from 23.7% last year to 27.8% this season.

The Reds first run came on a walk by Jose Peraza (a WALK BY JOSE PERAZA), a stolen base and then a 2-out single by Scooter Gennett. Peraza is now 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts, a huge improvement over his success rates of 68% in 2016 and 74% in 2017. 

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver used to say when you play for one run, that’s all you get. That aptly describes the Reds fourth inning. Joey Votto led off with a double to right field. Scooter Gennett – SCOOTER GENNETT – bunted him to third. (It’s possible Gennett was bunting on his own for a hit.) Eugenio Suarez knocked Votto in with a sacrifice fly. One run.  

The Reds scored two runs in the 6th inning, but almost came to regret the larger opportunity missed. Off Hendricks, the Cubs starter, Jose Peraza reached on an error by shortstop Addison Russell. Joey Votto walked. Scooter Gennett followed with a ground ball single over the second-base bag to make the score 3-2. Eugenio Suarez followed with a double, driving in Votto. With the score 4-2, the Reds had runners on second and third with no outs, threatening to blow the game open. But Scott Schebler and Tucker Barnhart grounded out with Votto unable to advance from third. Billy Hamilton struck out, swinging at five consecutive pitches out the strike zone. The score remained 4-2.  

The Reds bullpen, which has been so good lately, was a mixed bag. In the 6th, David Hernandez gave up extra-base hits to the first two batters he faced – the second of which was by Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs pitcher – surrendering the tying run. Amir Garrett (fastball velocity 95.9 mph) pitched the 7th. He walked the leadoff batter then induced a double play. After he struck out Javier Baez to end the inning, Baez and Garrett started jawing at each other, leading to one of those dumb baseball skirmishes where the benches and bullpens empty, no punches are thrown, but deep, heavy breathing and narratives abound.

Manager Jim Riggleman brought Raisel Iglesias in to hold the 2-run lead in the 8th inning. I liked Riggleman’s idea. If Iglesias was only going to pitch in one game of the double header, why not use him two innings? Ah, but the best laid schemes ‘o mice an’ men oft go awry. Iglesias seemed to be thrown off by not getting this call … 

… against Ian Happ, the first batter he faced. When Happ hit a home run later in the at bat, Iglesias stomped around the mound, clearly upset at the earlier call. Later in the inning, Anthony Rizzo, choked up on the bat like Joey Votto, punched a 2-strike pitch that landed between the LF and CF for a double, driving in the tying run. Iglesias’ fastball/sinker velocity was 97.8 mph, highest all season. 

Wandy Peralta came on for the 9th and pitched great, retiring the Cubs in order. Then Dylan Floro, who played for the Cubs last year before being released, was called on to pitch the 10th and 11th, giving up a hit and an intentional walk, but holding the Cubs scoreless. Floro struck out two batters and continues to have an outstanding year. 

The Reds won in the 11th inning after Scott Schebler led off with a walk. Oh, do walks haunt. Tucker Barnhart did not sacrifice bunt. Instead, he lined a single to right field. Good things come to those who don’t sacrifice outs. Adam Duvall worked another walk to load the bases, bringing up Billy Hamilton. Hamilton faced a drawn in infield and outfield, with one of the outfielders moved up to the infield. Even with no outs, drama remained. After Hamilton the Reds would have to bat a pitcher, having used up all their position players. But Justin Wilson couldn’t regain even a tiny bit of control, walking Hamilton on five way-off-target pitches, forcing in Schebler with the glorious game-winning run. 

Game 2  The Worst 

Cincinnati Reds 0 (16-31) • Chicago Cubs 10 (24-19)

Box Score || Win % || Reds Pitcher Statcast || Reds Hitter Statcast

Sal Romano walked everyone and they all scored. His ERA estimators have been pointing this way for several weeks. 

Scott Schebler, Alex Blandino and Rosell Herrera had the Reds three hits. Adam Duvall walked three times. 

  • Jose Peraza: .251/.276/.332
  • Alex Blandino: .280/.357/.347

Kevin Shackelford pitched 3 innings and threw 49 pitches.

29 Responses

  1. Jeff Reed

    Although hitting an average of .193, Duvall had five walks in the doubleheader. Reds go for the split tomorrow.

  2. Jack

    Big Sal will be replaced by Disco. I would like to see Blandino given a chance at short as well. I would also like to fast forward to 2020.

  3. jay johnson

    How does he jump over Homer?
    Homer flat out stinks and is a guaranteed L every time he takes the mound.Sal gives you at least a shot at a W.
    He may not be the long term answer but for right now he stays and Homer goes.

    • scotly50

      There are 21 million reasons Homer stays in the rotation.

      • Den

        It’s just money and these owners have that in buckets and teams values are only going to skyrocket with the total legalization of sports betting. Pay him off and move on.

  4. Brandon

    Here is my question. Disco, if healthy, could replace either Sal or Homer and who could complain, but what about 2019?

    Let’s pretend for a minute that the Reds “urgency” in their planning actually does mean they plan to be competitive in 2019 for a playoff spot. We will have 4 months of baseball left but as of now I only see 2 starters that you could feel good about saying belong in a playoff team rotation. Aside from Castillo and Mahle, who else can you say that about ? Sure, Disco probably if healthy. But that is an “if” that shouldn’t be part of a serious plan.

    So far in 2018, Romano, Reed, Finnegan, and Stephenson have not stepped forward. Garrett seemingly has been permanently placed in the bullpen.

    I was hoping by the end of this season there would only be 1 spot to really fill in the rotation in 2019 and the Reds would address that in the offseason with a front of the rotation starter either via trade or FA. That still could be the case as there is a lot of baseball left but Currently I think it’s 3 spots that no one is claiming.

    The offense is a different story and also is going to require reconstruction in the offseason. Their outfield is killing them offensively. You add that on top of a SS who doesn’t give them much and the offense has a lot left also, but to me the offenseive issues is kind of what I expected. The disappointment and bigger concern is the starting pitching. For all of the rebuild, it’s at least concerning at this point that not enough of them are going to work out to be a real playoff type rotation.

    • proudpapa

      Stephenson actually showed late last season that he could be a very good major league pitcher. Slow start to this season sure, but he leads the Bats in quality starts and his last start was very good with 7k’s and 0 bbs

    • Dewey Roberts

      I see no way that the Reds will field a winner in 2019. Walt Jocketty traded away all the good Reds players—except Votto— and got “major league ready” prospects in return. The problem is that those prospects were spare parts rather than starters and some of them are still not major league ready. They may never be ready.
      This rebuild has been bungled about as badly as it could be. I think the Reds will not be competitive again before 2022 at the earliest—and that is iffy. It will take a new wave of homegrown talent before the Reds start winning again.
      The pitching prospects are still worrisome. The Reds need to quit drafting relief pitchers and/or outfielders thinking that they can turn them into major league starting pitchers. Oh, how I wish Bob Howsam was still around. He is the kind of General a Manager who knew what he was doing in drafts and trades. At present, we simply don’t have much of a clue about either.

  5. kmartin

    I think I would immediately, if not sooner, DFA any pitcher that walks Billy Hamilton with the bases loaded.

  6. Scott Gennett

    Assuming Castillo, Mahle & Harvey are able to perform up to some level, and Disco is able to make it out of DL, I guess at least one out of the other 6 or 7 candidates should be able to take a step forward.

  7. Blake Shell

    Sal got squeezed in that 4th or 5th inning whichever one was the big one. I know Sal’s peripherals aren’t great but one thing that catches my eye is simply his location.
    When he can throw the breaking ball for a strike he’s a different guy. He got a ton of misses with it the few times it was even near the strike zone and did the same against the Mets. He throws too many non competitive pitches. I don’t think it’s remotely a stuff thing for him. Location and overuse of the fastball are both destroying him.

  8. Scott Gennett

    The 4-men OF has a .690 OPS overall so far, with a highest AVG of .250 (Schebler) a highest OBP of .346 (Winker) and a highest SLG of .442 (Schebler). Duvall has improved his perfirmance lately, but Winker’s numbers have gone south. Schebler has shown to be the more consistent one, while Hamilton continues to struggle in the offensive side.

    • bouwills

      I know this is heresy for this site, but at some point it has to be shown that Winker can’t hit lefties. In 2017 he hit .120/ .154/ .354 vs lhp (only 25 ABs). Here we are in 2018 & Jesse is hitting .129/ .154/ .354 vs lhp (31 more ABs). Small sample size- but very consistent. Duvall & Schebler should be in the lineup vs lefties until Winker shows improvement.

      • Jeff Reed

        If Winker is not in the lineup against lefties, he will not show improvement against lefties. It’s just more proof, at what should be the end of the rebuild, that inconsistency in playing the young guys during the rebuild has got the Reds to this sorry state.

      • bouwills

        The premise of your argument is counter productive. Winker should continue to start vs lefties. Therefore Hamilton should continue to lead off. Therefore Reed & Finnegan should stay in the rotation. The worse the results the more adamantly you continue to buck the stats. Good luck with that..

  9. Mason Red

    Any win against the Cubs is gold but it’s like men against the boys when making a comparison between the two franchises. If I were the owner of the Reds I would be infuriated by seeing more Cubs fans than Reds fans at GABP year in year out. But of course if ownership sees only ticket sales then I guess they’re happy.

    • David

      I don’t think Reds fans are fair weather fans. But they are fed up with losing and the dissembling double talk from the Management and Owners about the club. This team largely stinks, and the main reason is pitching. You can go on all day about the outfield, Duvall, Peraza, etc. But the pitching stinks. Homer gets shelled every time out.
      Romano didn’t look bad last night, but he walked too many people and that’s what killed him.
      They don’t get better until their starting pitching gets better. Period.

  10. scotly50

    The same reasons for trading Votto are the same reasons other teams would not want him. And since he has burnt the bridge to Toronto, I just don’t see another team who would want him.

    I truly do not see an end to this until the mid-twenties. I am not sure there will be a player left on this current team.

  11. scotly50

    It really does not matter. I am a Blandino fan, but he is not a major upgrade, so what is the point.

  12. bouwills

    Reds aren’t the only team with the yoke of bad contracts hanging around their necks. It happens. The Reds are less able to overcome the burden of bad contracts than say Yankees or Dodgers, but that’s the way the ball bounces. The issue is clear & always has been. For a small market team to re-build, they must be 100% into re-build. Re-tool is a farce. Trying to revive the careers of the Marquis, Simons, Arroyos, Harveys, Gallardos etc. etc. ad naseum is also indeed a farce. ML- ready prospects aren’t. If they were ML-ready, teams wouldn’t trade them away for half a season rentals. The expertise of the re-build continues to evade this organization;even now. BP, what were they thinking? They paid almost all of his salary & got nothing in return. Cozart, what were they thinking? They got zip. Zero. Nil. Cingrani, what were they thinking? Well, I’ll tell you. They were thinking that by the time they’re competitive again, Clementina will be ML ready. Cingrani will be too expensive or gone. The reason they didn’t make the SF/ Hamilton trade is because the player that they were offered is about ML ready now. the player they wanted (Ramos) will be ready in about 3 years. Joketty,Williams, & Castellini know this team is still about 2-3 years away. But they won’t admit it. So the farce continues.

  13. james garrett

    I agree Doc lets see what we have with him at short for a few days and maybe Herrera in center.Its easy to get high when you win 6 in a row and get down after losing like we did Friday night and game two last night.We are still the same team that is auditioning a young starting group of pitchers along with getting woeful starts by Homer and now have been shut out 6 times.Lots of question marks but we must stay the course with the pitchers.Can’t start throwing guys under the bus after a few stinkers and allow Homer to just continue to pitch.Bad message to the young guys for sure when all you can say is well he used to do this and that.Bottom line is they need to be given a legitimate chance at being successful and all of them have things they can get better at.For me its a big mistake to not give Garrett and Bob Steve some chances after the break.We are getting right at league average starts as it pertains to innings from all of our starters.We should not be surprised or disappointed at this and again stay the course.

  14. KG

    Senzel will be here soon. We know that. Presumably at 2nd base. Scooter Gennett is one of our best hitters and should stay. Why not move him to the outfield and use Duvall & Hamilton as trade bait?

    • Jeff Reed

      Those of us who favor an outfield tryout for one of our best hitters, Gennett, are still waiting. Probably a trade, that doesn’t bring much to the Redlegs, will occur before the tryout happens.

    • DougEfresh

      Seriously, who wants Hamilton and/or Duvall? Neither one is an every day guy. No one is going to offer anything of value for these schmucks’ last year or two of arbitration.

  15. Darrin

    24 walks in three games, how does a major league staff even accomplish that?

  16. Ernest

    Not that it matters at this point, but, the Reds continue to bat a player with a 276 OBP and a 607 OPS in the top 2 spots in the order. The Reds are just a clueless organization at this point.

    As noted above, the OF provides very little at this point as well. Yet, the Reds act like all 4 are irreplaceable and need to get them all playing time.

    The one true prospect that the Reds have is now dealing with health issues and according some is blocked by a 27 year old journey man.

    In addition, others have pointed out that the Reds never truly traded for prospects, just AAAA players that the other teams did not value.

    Not exactly an efficient/effective rebuild

  17. Den

    How is Sal over Homer? We scream at pitch the youth yet we are going to move Sal out? It’s time to release Homer put in Disco and move on.

  18. another bob in nc

    Kudos for knowing it’s “best laid schemes” and not “best laid plans.”