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:

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.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Luis Castillo 24.2 1.46 3.28 33.3% 13.5%
Eric Lauer 22 4.91 4.32 19.6% 5.4%

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.”

Bullpen

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?

Starting Lineups

Reds Padres
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:

An interesting day in history for the Boone family:

Let’s hope Derek Dietrich’s assessment of his team proves to be prophetic:

 

18 Responses

  1. Brian

    You know, between Votto, scooter, disco, and Winker, we may look back on this 2019 reds team as one of the most underrated funny teams in reds history.

  2. J

    Peraza’s main problem is that he refuses to take pitches out of the strike zone. He doesn’t need more confidence, he needs more self-control. (The whole team needs it, but particularly him.)

  3. Big Ed

    I can’t understand why the Reds are sitting 3 LH hitters against a righty, Eric Lauer. Lauer shows some reverse splits over a small sample size, but the hitters in question (Votto, Winker and DD) all have normal splits. Matt Kemp over anybody?

    Backfire Bell has a knack for overthinking.

    Having said that, I would not be shocked if they score 10 runs tonight.

    • Big Ed

      I finally caught that. I’d been at the racetrack all afternoon, and thought that (L) next to Lauer’s name meant that he was pitching on Lasix.

  4. Doug Gray

    Joey Votto is not healthy today. That’s why he’s not playing.

    • Matthew Johnson

      Under the weather or injury?

  5. Matthew Johnson

    Mlb.com has it as an 8:40 start time

  6. Rut

    If Wandy gets to 18 scoreless appearances I will be a very happy fan

  7. CP

    He has not used the same lineup 2 days in a row. For some reason, he keeps changing the starting pitcher each game.

    • CP

      So let’s get this right… you think if Bell switches Barnhart for Casali or other bottom of the order types, it somehow messes the guys up at the top of the order so they cant hit the ball?

  8. CP

    Plus MLB Curveball=nightmare for AAA hitters.

  9. Indy Red Man

    He had a 3.11 era at AAA last year. I think Sim has a chance to be decent. Romano never came close to that in the minors and they gave him a long look. Maybe they could try Sims as a long man at some point.

  10. Roger Garrett

    I hope your right but it is as you say a brutal lineup.Easy to pick it apart but Tucker can’t hit lefties and Casali can along with Farmer in for Joey is well you know.

  11. Indy Red Man

    Castillo has fantastic stuff, but he needs to improve on these pitch counts? 42 already. Can’t be an ace and go 5 or 5.2 semi-regularly

    On a positive note…his fastball has more movement on it this year! Even that HR was a heater that drifted high and away. He should be able to freeze leftys on the inside corner or get them off the end of the bat away. He was pretty bad vs lefties last year

  12. Indy Red Man

    Reds give away another out with the bunt. 2-1 count and it looked like the pitch was inside….although their camera angle was bad. Bottom line….why are they trying to force bunts with guys that can’t do it well and the defense is right in their face if they do get it down somehow? Swinging away is the only thing you can do. Or automatic take when its 2-1

  13. CP

    Whatever your feelings about the DH are, it is not particularly entertaining watching Luis Castillo attempt to use a bat.

    • Indy Red Man

      Reds pitchers have been horrible at the plate for a long time now? I watch other teams…Greinke hit 2 HRs in a game the other night. DeGrom hit 1 the other day. It seemed like Arrieta had key hits all the time w/the Cubs. Wainwright can hit. Bumgarner can hit. The Reds guys look like they gave up when they walk up there? Romano was horrible. Disco is about the best one….atleast he tries. Mahle did have a double the other night. The corners charge the plate because nobody can hit so the bunt will never work either?

  14. Jason

    Are you kidding me Jared Hughes coming in haha