After last night’s thrilling 6-5 win in extra innings, the Cincinnati Reds take the field tonight currently holding the best record in baseball. It will be Jeff Hoffman vs. Riley Smith in the second game of this series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The first pitch will be thrown at 8:10 EDT at Chase Field in Phoenix. You can watch on Bally Sports Ohio or listen to Tommy Thrall and the Cowboy, Jeff Brantley, on 700 WLW or streaming on the IHeartRadio app.

Stat of the Day

The Reds lead all of baseball in Barrel% through the first week of the season. They are most definitely crushing baseballs.

Starting Pitchers

REDS

Right-hander Jeff Hoffman pitched really well against the Cardinals in his Reds debut on Sunday, allowing only one run in five innings while striking out six and not walking a batter. If he pitches like that again tonight, I don’t think the Reds can make him the odd man out of the rotation when Sonny Gray comes back.

I think the key to Hoffman continuing to pitch well will be how often he throws his breaking pitches. If he can utilize those pitches the way he did on Sunday, he will continue to have success. Last year, Hoffman didn’t throw his slider at all. In 2019, he threw it only 12 times all season. On Sunday, he threw his slider 16 times, all to right-handed batters, and more often than his change-up and his curve ball. It resulted in a 60% whiff rate. And his slider isn’t even his best pitch. Hoffman historically gets a higher whiff rate and better results with his curve ball than any other pitch.

DIAMONDBACKS

Arizona counters with right-hander Riley Smith, a 24th round selection in the 2016 MLB draft. Like Widener last night, Smith made his major league debut in 2020. He had an excellent (shortened) rookie season, allowing only three runs while striking out 18 in 18.1 innings out of the bullpen. His first appearance of 2021 came last Saturday, pitching five innings out of the bullpen. He gave up two earned runs on five hits, but did not allow a home run and struck out four. Although Smith is not unfamiliar with starting games since he did that for the majority of his minor league career, tonight will be his first major league start.

Smith relies on four pitches: a sinker, a slider, a curve ball, and a change up. He throws the sinker about 61 percent of the time and will use his slider as his secondary pitch, usually about 20 percent of the time. In his one appearance of 2021, he’s thrown his curve ball 11 times and has a 100% whiff rate, according to Baseball Savant. Smith very rarely throws his change up, but has already thrown it five times this season, compared with four times in his 18.1 innings in 2020. As for velocity, he averages between 92 and 93 mph on his fastball and 83 mph on his slider.

Stats are from 2020.

Name IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP K% BB%
Jeff Hoffman 21.1 9.28 4.69 5.39 1.92 19.2% 8.7%
Riley Smith 18.1 1.47 2.76 3.62 1.09 25.7% 7.1%

Lineups

Cincinnati Reds

Arizona Diamondbacks

LF Tyler Naquin CF Tim Locastro
RF Nick Castellanos RF Kole Calhoun
1B Joey Votto 1B Christian Walker
SS Eugenio Suárez LF David Peralta
3B Mike Moustakas 3B Asdrubal Cabrera
CF Nick Senzel 2B Eduardo Escobar
2B Jonathan India SS Nick Ahmed
C Tucker Barnhart C Stephen Vogt
P Jeff Hoffman P Riley Smith

News and Notes

Jesse Winker out of the lineup, but available

Jesse Winker is out of the lineup after having cramps in both calves last night that led to his removal from the game. Manager David Bell said prior to the game that he would be available off of the bench tonight.

Sonny Gray is ready to return

Sonny Gray threw a simulated game in Arizona this afternoon and seems to be ready to return the the rotation this upcoming week. More details available here in our write up from this evening.

Final Thoughts

Obviously people who know me online know that I love baseball. They likely wouldn’t follow my Twitter account if I didn’t. However, people who know me in real life know I love baseball too. This week, I’ve noticed more people make comments to me than usual about the Reds. Last night one of my housemates asked what I thought of the Reds so far this year. On Thursday at work, one of my coworkers made a statement, “The Reds are really playing well and winning right now.”

These are people who casually follow the sport of baseball, so they may have lost touch with the sport over the last couple of years. But I’m here to tell you those casual fans are already paying attention. If the Reds keep winning, those fans will really come back, especially in this city. The Reds may lose the casual fan’s attention during bad seasons, but when the Reds are good, they always come back. This also only further cements my opinion that Cincinnati is forever a baseball city.

47 Responses

  1. Klugo

    Been seeing a lot of opposite field power, too. Says even more.

    I’m adamant that the Reds fanbase is one of the best in all of baseball. I really hope we can get a team playing well mixed with a full stadium again soon. That’s a delicious drink.

  2. Rednat

    Thank you Ashley. I guess i am opposite of your friends. I have been a reds fan my whole life and still follow every pitch but i havent been an mlb fan since the early 2000s when the game changed to the sabermetric 3 outcome style. But with the reds hot start i find myself watching a lot of mlb highlights and even some games. I guess i am sizing up our would be competition. Lol

  3. Sliotar

    Well stated, Ashley.

    Cincinnati rallies around the Reds … the way Columbus does for Ohio State football … and Cleveland does for the Browns.

    In each case … does not take much to re-kindle the love.

  4. Sliotar

    As much mashing as the Reds offense has done … it feels like a new name is overdue to go off offensively …. Votto, Moustakas, Senzel … someone like that.

  5. Grand Salami

    I can’t wait to see Hoffman pitch knowing he’s got a completion internally, not just externally.

  6. Tom Mitsoff

    Senzel and India both with nice opposite field hitting.

  7. Sliotar

    Now I know why it seems easy for the Dodgers to get to 100 wins …. Arizona stinks.
    (So do the Rockies).

    Reds have top of order up first in the 3rd inning … already up 2 runs.

    Hoffman should go after these AZ hitters. No nibbling.

  8. Chris

    As much as I’ve loved Votto, I am not happy keeping him in the #3 spot.

    • Indy Red Man

      He’s hit some balls hard, but his spray chart is like clockwork……pull/infield and away/outfield. He’s also a slow starter, but you’re right! Walks and obp are a thing of the past too because nobody fears him. Platoon him or atleast alot of time off and bat him 6th/7th.

      • Hanawi

        Agree. I think his stats don’t tell the whole story for how he is hitting and I’m sure Bell wants to give him as many at bats as possible since he missed most of spring. but might be time to give him a day off. And then drop him in the order if needed.

  9. Chris

    C’mon Hoffman. Throw strikes to a .000 hitter. Seems like the right thing to do.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    Man, did the Arizona infield mess up that ball hit by Moustakas. And cheers to him for hustling and getting to first.

  11. Sliotar

    Ye Olde RE24 Run Expectency chart on FanGraphs – 1.4 runs on average, with 1st and 2nd and no outs.

    Felt like the game could have been busted wide open there, especially Barnhart swinging a hot bat and still to come up.

  12. Indy Red Man

    Ouch. 1st & 2nd nobody out and 3-1 count on Senzel = nothing and now they leadoff with a hr. These guys aren’t very good, but they’re not folding like the Pirates either.

  13. Sliotar

    Castellanos must have late dinner plans tonight.

    Has seen a total of 7 pitches in 3 at-bats. Zero hits.

    • Indy Red Man

      Yeah I don’t know about him long term? Streaky and a nice oppo swing for gabp, but he has 1 walk on the season. That go-ahead HR vs Pitt in the first game of the series was on a 3-2 pitch and the first strike he saw. He’s fiery and brings some attitude, but he’s not a great hitter at this point. Bottom line is if he really takes the next step as a hitter then we can’t afford him and if he stays around .800 ops then he might stay. It would be beneficial if he could manage .850+ though!

  14. Tom Mitsoff

    And now we dip into the bullpen, which has been the weakness of the team in an otherwise outstanding first week-plus.

    • Sliotar

      According to Baseball Reference ….

      Fourth appearance in 8 days for Perez … had already logged 3.1 innings and 61 pitches in previous 3 appearances.

      Too much, too soon?

      That Doolittle signing really looks flawed tonight.

  15. MBS

    Wow, how many hits up the middle? So many would be outs.

    • Jon Ryker

      This is what happens when you don’t actually have any middle infielders.

  16. TyGuy88

    Why not take out Perez? He’s clearly not dealing.

  17. Indy Red Man

    India didn’t take the out at 1B and then the wheels came off. Its been torture since the 7th inning last night.

  18. Hanawi

    I’m trying to follow along with the play by play. I have no idea how to interpret how someone reached on an infield single to 2nd and 3 guys scored bc of an error by the CF.

    • VaRedsFan

      It was a clean single to the right of 2B….Senzel bobbled allowing the 3rd run to score

      • Hanawi

        Thanks. So not really an “infield” single as they called it.

  19. Sliotar

    According to Baseball Reference ….

    Fourth appearance in 8 days for Perez … had already logged 3.1 innings and 61 pitches in previous 3 appearances.

    Too much, too soon?

    That Doolittle signing really looks flawed tonight.

  20. B

    Bell’s decisions almost cost the reds yesterday. Today it looks like his decisions will cost them. Hoffman only at 82 pitches and Bell doesn’t trust him enough to get through the inning after an infield single. He thinks the struggling bullpen was the safer choice. Smart move David!

    • Indy Red Man

      Well they only get 1 run if India throws the ball to 1B. Hoffman gave up 6 hits and 3 walks in 4.1. Its not like he was cruising.

      • B

        Hoffman gave up 3 hits to 1 hitter, the home run, and then the infield single he was taken out after. When he’s only at 82 pitches, that’s good enough to leave in when the bullpen is struggling and threw 6 innings the game before. It’s nothing more than Bell overthinking things. The faster he gets to the bullpen, the sooner he can start making his double switches

  21. Indy Red Man

    We’re getting our hits tonite, but their guy isn’t going 2-0, 3-1 on everyone like our guys. He’s getting the result within a few pitches and only 1 extra base hit by the Reds. A little disappointing because its this guys first career start.

  22. MBS

    Had to turn on the boys on WLW, I couldn’t listen to Sadak in that rough inning anymore. Brantley has me more relaxed

    • Sliotar

      The Reds should give Ironman Awards … Reds logo earmuffs or something … to anyone who sits through 162 games of Sadak.

      Over the top is an understatement, IMO.

      • MBS

        Lol, I thought I was the only one. Everyone raves about how prepared he is, and he is, but no one ever says how “over the top” he is. I feel like Larkin mellows the broadcast a bit, but with Welsh and Sadak you have 2 funny men, and no strait man.

    • J

      I’ve had to turn off the sound multiple times this season even when things have been going well. There’s only so much yelling I can take.

  23. Indy Red Man

    Luke Weaver vs DeLeon tomorrow. This Arizona team is pretty bad. They’ll probably be battling for last in the NL West. We really shouldn’t lose a series to these guys.

    • MBS

      Already throwing in the towel tonight?

  24. Grand Salami

    I had a date night with the wife. Judging by the box, the thread and the bit of game cast, looks like I got lucky on the one to miss.

    The DJ stock is coming back to earth a bit. There are more than a couple candidates to head down the highway when Gray returns.

  25. VaRedsFan

    Weak attempt by Tucker allowing the guy to get to 3rd. Then came the sac fly. He tried to backhand the pitch instead of block it.

    Geno was playing too deep, got to charge that ball. That kid is fast. Treat him like Billy

  26. VaRedsFan

    The Reds got 9 hits. India and Casto smoked 2 atom balls the last 2 innings. I guess the RISP hits couldn’t continue at that pace forever. Still plenty of good hitting approaches tonight…just didn’t get the results.

    • Indy Red Man

      Well they did let their starter get thru 6 on only 82 pitches in his first career start. Thats not good, but maybe he was throwing alot of strikes. In these 2 games our guys make 20-25 pitches an inning even when they put a zero.

  27. VaRedsFan

    Suarez pops one to right center…hopefully a good sign.

  28. Dennis Westrick

    Is it just me or does it seem that Sal Romano gives up a home run in every one of his relief appearances?

    • MBS

      Romano’s value seems to be an innings eater. He is in danger of being designated to the alternative site. My guess is Bedrosian still has more upside in the Reds minds. Hoffman or De Leon can hopefully eat up innings, in a better fashion than Romano, once Gray is back.

  29. Doug Gray

    What the heck does this even mean?