Welcome to the second month of the 2019 MLB season. Tonight the Reds (11-16; 5th NL Central) open a 4 game set versus the Mets (14-13; 2nd NL East) at Citi Field in New York City. Game time is 7:10pm. Despite the Reds  having settled into the all too familiar NL Central cellar, there are a few tidbits of good news for Reds fans to hang their caps on. Since starting the season 1-8, the Reds have played at a .555 clip over their last 18 games.  They are 6-4 over their last 10 games. Finally, focusing on this series, against common opponents in 2019, the Mets are 7-6,  the Reds 7-7 with both teams record aided immensely by a 3 game sweep of the Marlins.

Starting Pitchers

The game will feature a battle of right handers on the mound. Tanner Roark goes for the Reds with Zack Wheeler for the Mets.

Tanner Roark

Through five starts for the Reds, Roark has been pretty much as advertised in the preseason buildup. He is a guy who goes 5-6 innings per start and generally keeps the team in the game. Roark has lived a little on the dangerous side with a walk rate approaching 4 per 9 innings  but offset that somewhat by averaging just less than a strikeout per inning.  Comparison of his ERA (3.24) to FIP (3.81) to xFIP (4.59) suggests he has been pitching with a fair amount of good luck. However other than xFIP, these splits are not wildly off of his career lines. Maybe this is just the pitcher Tanner Roark is. From the Reds viewpoint though, it would be a huge positive for Roark to consistently extend himself through 6 full innings or more.

 

Zack Wheeler

Doesn’t it almost seem like Zack Wheeler was a Red or should have been a member of the Reds at some point? For several  years, his name kept coming to the top of the list of hot starting pitchers the Reds were trying acquire. But, it never quite happened. Yet despite the hubbub we’ve heard about Wheeler, his career FIP/xFIP lines come out to be roughly the same as Roark’s.

Wheeler, like Roark, has also made five starts in 2019. He’s gotten a bit deeper into games than Roark, struck out about 1 more guy per 9 innings but also walked batters at a slightly greater rate. Wheeler is coming off an absolutely shutdown 7 inning performance versus the Phillies. It earned him a negative FIP for the game. Yes, a negative FIP (I’ll let someone else cluck about just how valid that could be).  Mets fans are hoping this is an indication of things to come in 2019. As Reds fans, let’s hope it was an aberration which mitigated his 2019 stats toward his career norms.

PITCHER FIP WHIP HR/9 K% BB%
Tanner Roark 3.81 1.60 0.72 21.4% 9.8%
Zack Wheeler 3.64 1.35 0.91 26.0% 11.0%

 

Bullpens

Reds

The Reds bullpen used 3 pitchers to cover 3 innings Sunday. Everyone worked an inning. Nobody worked on a consecutive day. There should be no serious constraints. However the men who worked on Sunday, Stephenson, Peralta and Hernandez, would figure to work short stints if used tonight tonight.

Mets

The Mets pen used 2 pitchers to cover 2 innings on Sunday. Edwin Diaz, the closer, was working on a consecutive day.  He has thrown 2 innings totalling 22 pitches in those appearances.  He could be limited or unavailable tonight.

Lineups

Please check here for latest lineup information

  REDS   METS
1. Jose Peraza (2B)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
4. Jesse Winker (LF)
5. Yasiel Puig (RF)
6. Scott Schebler (CF)
7. Jose Iglesias (SS)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Tanner Roark (P)
1. Jeff McNeil (2B)
2. Peter Alonso (1B)
3. Brandon Nimmo (LF)
4. Michael Conforto (RF)
5. Todd Frazier (3B)
6. Wilson Ramos (C)
7. Amed Rosario (SS)
8. Juan Lagares (CF)
9. Zack Wheeler (P)

Are you also wondering why the Reds seem to be playing Tucker Barnhart into the ground early on when they have a very reliable alternative in Curt Casali? Is it possible Casali’s catching duties are being limited by ongoing recovery from his offseason hip surgery?

And yes, still Scott Schebler in CF. Pretty clear the Reds have nobody else they are comfortable playing there. At least he is out from immediately in front of the pitcher which should get him more fastballs in hitable locations. I’ll say more below about this situation.

RE: Peraza as lead off man> NO COMMENT.

News and Notes

Why not in Cincinnati?

 

Up the road in Columbus today preparations for NHL Round 2 playoff action. Meanwhile I am yearning for an October when we see postseason activity once again at GABP

Final Thoughts

Centerfield has become a white hot button issue for the Reds and their followers. Scott Schebler, the guy the team chose to keep the seat warm until Nick Senzel was ready to ascend to the spot is off to an abysmal start. Senzel remains unavailable as he continues to get back up to speed from injury. Meanwhile there is apparently no one else on the MLB 40 man roster the Reds trust to play CF.  What should we make of this situation?

First, cool the anger directed at Schebler personally. He’s a just guy trying his best to do the job his boss is assigning him.  Three prior seasons with the Reds (~1250 plate appearances) say that Schebler is a dead center of the road average MLB hitter. His OPS/ OPS+ over the 3 seasons are in a very tight band shouting average hitter.  So, he is probably more frustrated  and upset by what’s going on with his offense than even the most ardent fans are.

Instead, focus dissatisfaction on the Reds front office and their plan which brought the team to the current situation.  They knew (or should have) that rushing Senzel as the everyday CF was a high risk proposition even without considering  his injury risk. They also knew that Schebler as more than a spot/ emergency CF was a stretch defensively (and they should have factored in that he too presents an elevated injury risk). Still they did  not acquire a legitimate backup/ alternate CF. You reap what you sow.  BTW, some guy named Mason Williams hit a big run versus the Reds AAA team over the weekend.  Just saying….  GO REDS

 

Data and stats via Baseball Reference and Fangraphs