The Reds and Indians meet tonight in Cleveland for the fourth and final game of the home and home 2020 Ohio Cup Series.  Game time at Progressive Field is 6:10pm Eastern. A Reds win would give them a split in the set; but, alas, would not return the Cup to Cincinnati.

Starting Pitchers

The Reds Luis Castillo is scheduled to face Carlos Carrasco in a battle of right handers. Both Castillo and Carrasco experienced performance issues in their most recent outing. Castillo seemed to lack general sharpness while allowing 5 earned runs in 6+ innings, compiling an in-game ERA of 7.50. Carrasco meanwhile allowed 3 runs also in 6 innings of work but got there by allowing 3 solo home runs. Both will be looking to get back on the beam tonight.

A Key Indicator For Castillo?

What was different for Luis Castillo between his fist 2020 start in which he allowed just 1 earned run in 6 innings and his second start when he allowed 5 earned runs in 6+ innings? Taking a dive into the game stats, I found something which astonished me.

In his two starts in 2020, Luis Castillo has allowed a Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) of .438.  This is very bad, well over 50 points worse than the highest BABIP among MLB statistics qualified starting pitchers in 2019.  The figure is even more eye catching given Castillo finished sixth best in MLB during 2019 with BABIP of just .262.

Castillo’s BABIP in his first 2020 start was actually worse than in his second but both were above .400.  However, in his first start of 2020 Castillo was able to offset the BABIP and have an effective outing by striking out fully 1/3 of the batters he faced. In his second start, despite a still very strong strikeout rate of nearly 1/4  of the batters faced (23.1% to be exact), the high BABIP caught up with him.

Yes, it is still somewhat early days of the 2020 season such as it is; but in 32 starts during 2019, only 5 times did Castillo have an in game BABIP of .400 or greater. None of these 5 instances came in consecutive games. The first did not happen until late June.  To become the truly dominant pitcher the club expects him to be, Castillo needs to pitch as he did last year when he posted both a high strikeout rate (~29% in 2019) and a low BABIP (.262).  Reds fans hope that starts tonight.

Carlos Carrasco’s Battle

Carlos Carrasco is trying to bounce back from an entirely different kind of adversity.  Two months into the 2019 season, he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Following treatment, he returned to the Cleveland bullpen in September of 2019. Now in the midst of the pandemic sweeping across the globe, he is attempting to reclaim a spot in the Cleveland starting rotation. His career stats for 10 MLB seasons indicate he has been a reliable middle of the rotation guy as a starting pitcher. We wish him nothing but the very best in health and, after tonight, pitching performance too.

Tale Of The Tape

The numbers here reflect the most recent complete MLB season for each pitcher.

PITCHER ERA FIP WHIP HR/9 BB% K%
Luis Castillo 2019 3.40 3.70 1.14 1.04 10.1 28.9%
Carlos Carrasco 2018 3.38 2.94 1.13 0.98 5.5% 29.5%

If Castillo could knock several points off his BB%, imagine what level his overall game might rise to. Then add in that the increased pitch efficiency would help the Reds by relieving pressure on an uncertain bullpen. Remember when Johnny Cueto adopted the pitching to contact approach and became a legitimate ace? The same could happen for Castillo.

BullPens

REDS

Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims have worked on consecutive days. Sims pitch count for those days sits at 30, Garrett is at 24. Sims in particular could be very limited or unavailable tonight. Garrett perhaps could see spot duty. The new three batter minimum for relievers could come into play with both.

INDIANS

James Karinchak and Brad Hand have worked consecutive days for the Cleveland. Hand is at 27 pitches, Karinchak at 21. They are both probably in much the same situation as the Reds pitchers who have worked consecutive days.

Starting Lineups

REDS

SP: Luis Castillo

INDIANS

SP: Carlos Carrasco

1. Shogo Akiyama (LF)
2. Nicholas Castellanos (RF)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
5. Jesse Winker (DH)
6. Nick Senzel (CF)
7. Freddy Galvis (SS)
8. Kyle Farmer (2B)
9. Tucker Barnhart (C)
1. Cesar Hernandez (2B)
2. Jose Ramirez (3B)
3. Francisco Lindor (SS)
4. Carlos Santana (1B)
5. Franmil Reyes (DH)
6. Domingo Santana (RF)
7. Oscar Mercado (LF)
8. Beau Taylor (C)
9. Delino DeShields (CF)

Still no Moustakas for the Reds. If you are wondering about Farmer getting the nod over VanMeter at 2B, VanMeter was optioned back to the Prasco Park camp as part of the MLB mandatory roster pare down to 28.

News and Notes

Today was the day MLB active rosters had to be reduced to 28 players. The Reds got there by optioning RH pitcher Tejay Antone and utility IF/OF Josh VanMeter to their Prasco Park alternate site.  Here is Redleg Nation’s deeper look at these moves:

Reds option Tejay Antone and Josh VanMeter to Prasco Park

The minor leagues aren’t playing in 2020; but, this doesn’t mean there is no minor league news. Here is the latest from Doug Gray on Redleg Nation’s companion site, Reds Minor Leagues:

Reds land three prospects on MLB’s Top 100 Prospect List

And here is a bit of late breaking Reds roster news

Final Thoughts

Twelve games comprising 20% of this abbreviated 2020 season are now in the books. In a normal season, this waypoint would be at 32-33 games. That’s about the time we often think of the season being settled in and start looking for seasonal trends. So, even though the comparison might not be quite apples to apples this time around, what can we say about the Reds now?

Only the starting pitching seems to be running to the expected form for the Reds. The offense has been moribund except for Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakis with an occasional burst from Joey Votto. The bullpen seems as erratic as ever. Perhaps most alarmingly, the Reds defense is allowing a very significant level of unearned runs, right at 25% versus the National League average of just less than 10% of runs being unearned.

Yet despite all their issues, the Reds are just 2 games under .500 and on the cusp of a playoff spot. To date just 1/4 of the Reds games have been within their own division. That’s about to change in a big way starting tomorrow with the first of 18 divisional games still to come in August. Due to the divisional second place winner being awarded a playoff spot this year, even more than usual, division wins and losses will in many ways almost count double. Now if ever is the time to GO REDS!


Data Courtesy of  MLB.Com, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference

76 Responses

  1. Old-school

    Good write up Jim.
    Always appreciate the bullpen use update. Defensive miscues notable yet fixable.
    Need some wins the next 2 weeks before the heavy concentration of games against Cards/ Brewers/ Cubs.

    Go Reds.

    • Jim Walker

      The so called “little things” have also played big in these last 2 losses. When do they ever stop?

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Much like Kris Bryant batting first or second, the Reds need to keep Castellanos in the 2 hole. He always needs to bat in the first inning!

  3. Mark Moore

    Don’t want to descend into panic … but this really feels like a “must win” game. Need to split this blasted Battle for Ohio and get at least a little momentum heading to Milwaukee.

    • Jim Walker

      I think none of us want to seem panic stricken; but, the sad truth is games are slipping away. There have already been a couple of should have been Reds wins frittered away. Yes, that happens; but, when the Reds start playing almost exclusively divisional games, a lot of ground could be lost quickly and possibly irretrievably.

      And to boot with an outbreak here or there everything could be suspended then restarted later as a playoff tournament of some sort based on winning percentage as was done by NBA and NHL. We are just 10 games from the halfway point. It is easy to imagine that from that point forward such a path would follow even a moderate outbreak.

      • JB

        Jim I think we do math different. Halfway is not 10 games away.

      • Jim Walker

        @jb duh on me! thanks. Got those %’s and numbers of games crossed up is my story I will stick to.

  4. Roger Garrett

    98 mph right down the middle goes a long way doesn’t it?

  5. Hanawi

    I don’t understand penciling in Suarez and Winker in the 4/5 slots every game. At some point, performance needs to matter and they should be dropped down for Senzel at least.

  6. Mark Moore

    That’s a better way to start an inning.

  7. RedAlert

    Leadoff double and nothing – no surprise here -One of the worst fundament teamS in baseball year after year

    • FreeHouse

      I honestly believe Bryan Price can do better with this team than David Bell can.

      • TR

        Without Price’s explosion with the reporter it could have been more positive.

      • Melvin

        If Bryan Price had decent pitching he would still be managing this team. He was getting better and better all the time but was in a no win situation.

  8. FreeHouse

    Lead off double gone to waste. David Bell needs to start playing small ball with this team. This is unbelievable.

  9. Roger Garrett

    We are who we have been for a long time.It won’t change unless the players make it happen or new leadership makes it happen from the dugout.I mean did anybody think Winker was going to score unless somebody hit a home run?Of course not.Reds don’t give up an at bat to move a guy over at least not by design anyway.

  10. Mossy

    17 innings now without scoring a run. Ths lineup is missing Moose awfully bad right now.

  11. Mark Moore

    La Piedra is settling in nicely. Now if SOMEBODIES could hit, please?

    And I know I used the plural … because we need more than one (or three).

  12. Roger Garrett

    Just a bad team with nothing going on that makes one think it will change.Just no words to describe what we see on the field.

  13. Old-school

    Suarez hit 48 home runs last year.
    If he doesn’t wake up, offense won’t either. He Will. Time will tell.

    • Mark Moore

      You know, I read somewhere he hit a ton of them …

      • Mark Moore

        Thinking it was in a novel … you know, a work of fiction.

  14. Old-school

    The Reds offense is horrific. Perhaps we are witnessing hitters who have committed to the pull the home run approach. What if the reds had on base guys and spray hitters and a diverse offense….instead of clones who swing for the home run?

    A team is diverse… Different talents ,,different skill sets…each elevatesthe team… not Frankenstein clones

  15. RedAlert

    Pathetic – Pitchers got to throw a shutout to even have a chance

  16. JB

    2 runs and that is probably the ball game.

  17. Old-school

    Is Donnie eckert still coaching hitters? This team hit really well in 2017/18.
    Then the hitting was hijacked last year with Turner ward. They fired him but said Eckert was the wonder boy. This post 2018 approach isn’t working.

    5-8 isn’t ok.

    • Doug Gray

      Donnie Ecker is the hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants.

      • Old-school

        Thanks. Reds hitting was good 2017/18. Ward and Ecker were hired because Bell wanted his guys , not because hitting was a problem in 2017/18. Hitting was awful in 2019 and guys changed.

        Hitting is a systemic problem in 2019 and now 2020. Maybe the baseball has been de-juiced. I don’t know except this team is too talented to hit this bad.

      • Doug Gray

        The entered tonight with the 2nd lowest BABIP in baseball. There’s certainly been some bad hitting, but man, there’s been a lot of bad luck of hitting it right at them hard, too.

      • Doug Gray

        To expand on this, the Reds are 29th in BABIP, 13th in line drive rate, 27th in hard hit percentage, and 9th in soft hit percentage (meaning that 21 teams have more soft contact). It’s weird.

      • Old-school

        Hope it’s random bad luck. This team has the talent to win. There’s still time and this roster can go 8-2.

      • Old-school

        Bad umpires with egos don’t help

  18. Mark Moore

    Didn’t put him away after 0-2 … now the floodgates are open. He’s done … he’s throwing grapefruits up there. WLW booth says “2 big insurance runs” but given we can’t hit, they are just add-on to what was looking like a sad 1-0 loss.

    I know … Debbie Downer … but I had such optimism for this team. I need to come to terms with it all. Bell isn’t going to get canned in a short season, so there’s not much that will fire up this team as I see it.

    • JB

      Will we get more hits than the Indians have runs? 3 is alot for them.

      • RedAlert

        Score just as well be 10-1

        If Reds can’t make playoffs with
        expanded format, hand Bell his walking papers before the playoffs even start

        This team just goes thru the motions – no sense of urgency

    • John C.

      Shogo is completely overmatched. It is either a strikeout or a ground ball. Understand that there can be a breakin period but this was a guy that was supposed to know the strike zone.

      I don’t think there is anyone on the team that can hit a breaking pitch. This is just hard to believe. These guys are better than this. Still a way to go, but there needs to be a major shakeup soon. The starting pitchers will be going on strike.

  19. Roger Garrett

    Your right about Castillo and right about the team but it is hard to come to terms with it all after we went out and got some offensive help.Its just a losing culture that will not turn around with this current group of players.I love the Reds too but lets be real here their is no fire to light because losing is acceptable until it isn’t.

  20. Wayne Nabors

    I’ve already turned game off,I feel for guys like Doug who has to keep watching to do recap,I can’t imagine

  21. JB

    First and third. I have no confidence in Winker plating a run.

    • RedAlert

      Don’t let the pigeons poop on you Winker – geeze

      • RedsMonk65

        True fact: To get a hit (of any kind), one must swing the bat.

  22. Ron

    At some point Reds hitters are gonna have to learn how to hit good pitching. Taking good pitches and swinging aimlessly at pitches out of the strike zone won’t get it done.

    Castellanos has carried this team offensively. The other hitters need to get it together soon or this season will be lost. If we can’t make the post season this year, with 8 teams going, then when are we ever going to make it?

    And then there’s the bullpen.

  23. TR

    6 innings in, one hit. Changes are needed in the hitting coach department.

  24. Mark Moore

    And on top of all of this, we don’t get the calls we need and should have gotten. Not our night, not our week, not our season.

    Good night, all. I just can’t do this anymore tonight. As MBE would say, it’s time to Clete!

  25. Gonzo Reds

    It’s getting late early or getting early late. We’ve sadly hit rock bottom in a season we had so much hope for.

  26. RedAlert

    What wrong with bringing José Garcia and Stephenson up and giving them playing time ?? Not getting anything out of DH or Galvis ??? Just don’t understand it – REDS WAY I guess

    This team needs a MAJOR shakeup right now

  27. DaveCT

    There’s blood in the water, and the Tribe smells it. They’re a hungry team. Tip of the hat.

  28. RedsMonk65

    Time to go clip my toenails — or something.

  29. RedAlert

    And bullpen sets the stadium on fire – send this guy back down …. wash, rinse , repeat with this joke of a bullpen

  30. Jon

    De Leon is still pitching for what reason? The Reds have how many pitchers in their bullpen (albeit not good ones)?

    • Roger Garrett

      Lots of guys needed work so I don’t know why he was in the game.I mean we aren’t going to score anyway so wouldn’t it be wise to let a guy that we are counting on get some work in.What did that accomplish leaving him in until he gives up 5 runs,3 via the walk with bases loaded.Strop,Lorenzen and others need some innings.De Leon is just filling a roster spot isn’t he? What am I missing?

      • Jon

        And now Davidson is warming up?!? Why not put Jones or Lorenzen in and get them some more work?

  31. RedAlert

    Embarrassing isn’t even strong enough word to describe this circus

  32. Jon

    Has Puig recovered from Covid yet? Can’t be a worse option right now than Akiyama. Or could fill in at DH occasionally.

  33. Jon

    Marty picked the right time to retire. Imagine if he had to cover this season…

    • RedAlert

      Who said last night to switch out 10 new players ??? I’m onboard with that !! TherE better be some more moves after this crap Dick Williams

  34. Jon

    Think it’s about time for the Reds to pull the plug on the Cody Reed experiment. The Reds went 0-3 on their returns in the Cueto deal. Might as well bring up Hunter Greene and see how he does in the pen.

  35. Roger Garrett

    Any doubt which team looks like a major league team?Reds need to just forfeit to avoid any further embarrassment.

  36. Jon

    Maybe the Reds can sign Realmuto this winter. Need some major offense added to this lineup.

  37. Preach

    Yep, still watching. Ready for the comeback.

  38. Preach

    Didn’t Winker get thrown out? Eh, who cares, I guess……

  39. Jack

    Who’s your Daddy? Cleveland every since we started playing them

  40. Moon

    And the string runs to 23 straight innings without a run….

  41. Jacke

    Nothing says surrender like leaving a rookie in for 8 runs