All Reds fans are wondering just what is up with the team’s abysmal offensive performance over the first 19 games. Hitting home runs is about the only thing this team’s hitters have done at even an average pace. Cincinnati’s total of 26 homers was tied with the Cubs for 14th in the majors as of this morning.
The Reds are last in team batting average (.192), on-base percentage (.256), walks received (46), and 26th out of 30 in OPS (.628). As this season began, the expectation was that this offense would be among the best in the National League, if not all of baseball. So what’s happening here?
Are they facing above-average pitching? The statistics would say no. Six of the Reds’ first 17 games have been against Pittsburgh, which has a major-league-leading team ERA of 2.54. (Some may argue that has been accomplished largely on the back of facing this Reds team six times.) The other teams the Reds have faced to date (San Diego, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Miami and Milwaukee) are 10th, 12th, 18th, 20th and 25th in major league team ERA, respectively. Largely middle-of-the-road pitching has completely shut down the Reds’ offensive production.
The new hitting coach is Turner Ward, and we haven’t heard a lot about his theories or what he teaches. He was given great credit for the Dodgers’ offensive exploits in recent years. Here’s what Ward said in a 2017 interview about what he teaches:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 22, 2017
Is this considerably different from what Don Long has been teaching in recent years? Are the Reds struggling while trying to adapt to these theories? I don’t have the answers, but these seem possible explanations as to how an entire team can go into an extended slump for several weeks. Every team has periods during the year when the bats go to sleep for a handful of games at a time, but the Reds have had exactly one game this year in which they scored double figures in runs, 14 against the Marlins. Take away that game, and Cincinnati is averaging 2.8 runs per game. Even a pitching staff with an outstanding 3.23 team ERA isn’t enough for a team can’t average even three runs per game scored.
All of that being said, we hope that the offense breaks out tonight in game three of a four-game series against the Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park. Game time is 8:10 p.m. Eastern time. The hope is that the current offensive drought will be offset as these established players gradually revert to their personal and collective statistical norms over the course of time.
This matchup looks to be very much in the Reds’ favor, at least on paper. Castillo’s strikeout rate is considerably higher than Lauer’s, but that is offset to at least some degree by the fact that he also walks batters at a considerably higher rate than the lefthander Lauer. This is the first occasion this season that the Reds have faced back-to-back lefthanded starters. Lauer’s numbers this year closely mirror his statistics from 2018, so you know basically what you’re going to get from him – unless a team with a .192 team batting average is unable to take advantage of his “averageness.”
Raisel Iglesias may have pitched the best back-to-back one-inning appearances of his career the past two nights, striking out all six batters faced in high-leverage situations. This is certainly encouraging after his struggles of the first two weeks of the season, but he may not be available today as a result. If that is the case, look for Robert Stephenson and-or Amir Garrett to fill the lead-preserving duties in the late innings if that is needed.
How many of you out there in Redleg Nation predicted that Wandy Peralta would not have surrendered a run over his first 18 appearances of the year?
Gotta give it up to Wandy Peralta. He has not allowed a run this season in 8 appearances: 7.1 in, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 R. He didn’t allow a run in 10 spring training appearances/11 innings. #Reds
— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) April 20, 2019
|2B Jose Peraza||SS Fernando Tatis Jr.|
|3B Eugenio Suarez||C Francisco Mejia|
|RF Yasiel Puig||3B Manny Machado|
|LF Matt Kemp||LF Hunter Renfroe|
|SS Jose Iglesias||1B Eric Hosmer|
|CF Scott Schebler||CF Wil Myers|
|1B Kyle Farmer||2B Ian Kinsler|
|C Tucker Barnhart||LF Jose Pirela|
|P Luis Castillo||P Eric Lauer|
It has become evident in the still-short term of David Bell as Reds manager that he likes to keep his bench players prepared by starting them every few days. Today, Kyle Farmer gets the start at first base, as lefthanded bats Joey Votto, Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich all begin the game on the bench. This will be Votto’s second non-start in a week.
Also interesting is the insertion of Jose (0-for-24) Peraza in the leadoff spot. Peraza’s body language in recent games has been one of lacking confidence. Clearly, this is an attempt to send him a message that he is being counted upon in a big way.
Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at BaseballSavant.com.
News and Notes
After last night’s game, Anthony DeSclafani revealed the secret to Derek Dietrich’s success:
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) April 20, 2019
An interesting day in history for the Boone family:
— ? J. Daniel ? (@JDaniel2033) April 20, 2019
Let’s hope Derek Dietrich’s assessment of his team proves to be prophetic:
“We never quit, there’s no quit in this team. We’re playing hard and to the end.”
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) April 20, 2019