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.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 10, 2021
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.
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.
|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.
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.