The Reds seek to make it 2 consecutive wins over the Mets tonight at Citi Field. The big two atop the Mets rotation, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, loom ahead after tonight. So, it would behoove the Reds to secure no worse than a series split ahead of the final 2 games of the series. And will the Mets take issue with Jesse’s Winker’s unbridled exuberance when he hit the game winning HR Monday in the 9th inning? Tune in at 7pm tonight to see.

Starting Pitchers

Tonight will feature a righty/ lefty duel, Luis Castillo for the Reds versus leftie Jason Vargas for the Mets.

Luis Castillo

Having been around for the careers of both Mario Soto and  Johnny Cueto, I am often a harsher critic than most of casting Luis Castillo as a potentially top ace. However he is starting to win me over this spring. The stuff has always been there, blazing speed and a knee buckling bat locking change up off it. Now he is starting to mix in a quality slider to boot. But what I like most is that signs are emerging that he is becoming much more than just a thrower.

Two particular changes have caught my eye.  While Carillo’s higher strikeout rate is great, I like even more that he is no longer giving up home runs at a near league topping rate.  In fact, he is at the happy end of that scale now. And just as importantly for a man who would wear  the ace’s crown, he is extending himself deeper into games, averaging just better than 6 innings per start. Castillo’s ERA/FIP/xFIP comparison of  1.23/2.52/3.29 suggests there is more substance than smoke and  mirrors here. He is growing into a true pitcher. Enjoy.

Jason Vargas

Lefty Jason Vargas populates the opposite end of the rotation world from Luis Castillo.  Vargas’ job is to find a way through 5 innings or so while keeping his team in at least striking distance. He has struggled to do so in 2019.

Vargas will attempt to spot a not very fast fastball (88MPH) then work a variety of breaking pitches at different lesser speeds off of it. The Reds job is remain patient and not chase pitches out of the zone.

In a MLB career dating all the way back to 2005 with the Marlins, Vargas has made 273 MLB appearances of which 252 have been starts. Vargas has earned 15.9 career fWAR.  All told Vargas will have made at least $65M in his MLB career.  As the old, old song says, “Nice work if you can get it”.

Luis Castillo 2.92 0.95 0.25 9.7% 29.9%
Jason Vargas 6.39 1.93 1.11 11.8% 13.2%

The stats say tonight is a gross mismatch which marks the makings of a trap game. The Reds need to stay focused on task to make sure this doesn’t happen.




The Reds pen was tasked to record 16 outs (5.1 innings) Monday. Five pitchers were used. Most notably, Raisel Iglesias threw 28 pitches in a 2 inning save. He’s probably good for no more than an inning, if that,  tonight. Michael Lorenzen threw 23 pitches in a 1.2 ining stint and is also probably very limited tonight. David Hernandez and Wandy Peralta were appearing in consecutive games; but both threw less than 10 pitches working less than an inning each. Look for a lot of Robert Stephenson and Jared Hughes tonight.


The Mets used three pitchers to cover 3 innings of relief.  Each worked a single complete inning. Closer Edwin Diaz worked on his third consecutive day (3.0 innings 32 pitches in total). The Mets would probably prefer to not use him tonight.


          REDS            METS
1. Jose Peraza (2B)
2. Joey Votto (1B)
3. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
4. Yasiel Puig (RF)
5. Curt Casali (C)
6. Phillip Ervin (CF)
7. Jesse Winker (LF)
8. Jose Iglesias (SS)
9. Luis Castillo (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. Jason Vargas (P)

Casali and Ervin get the call versus a LH pitcher. Winker drops to #7 for the same reason.


News and Notes

It wouldn’t be another day in Reds land without Nick Senzel rumors. Our Doug Gray has this and other Reds minor league  activity covered.

Meanwhile, the hottest hitter for the Reds AAA team is actually Josh VanMeter. Doug Gray wrote about the changes he made and how it’s helped fuel his breakout.

Jesse Winker has played in just over a season’s worth of MLb games. Here’s what his offensive numbers look like


Final Thoughts

While the speculation about Nick Senzel’s pending MLB debut builds to a climax, another guy, Josh VanMeter, is having quite a season of his own at AAA for the Reds. In 25 games this season VanMeter has a .454/.783/1.236 OPS slash line! He leads the International League in HRs (11).  From July 1, 2018 through the end of the 2018 season his OPS was .885 at AAA. So, this is quite a sustained run he is on. VanMeter is  24 years old, just 3 months older than Nick Senzel.  He’s an infielder who bats left handed. He has primarily been a 2B in the past; but recently has been seeing time also at 3B and 1B. Could this portend a call up to the Reds if his bat stays blistering hot?

And as always,  GO REDS!   

Stats and data via Baseball Reference, Fangraphs,  and