The Cincinnati Reds went 2-4 on their road trip through St. Louis and Los Angeles. The Cardinals swept the Reds, who then turned around and took two of three from the Dodgers. Cincinnati’s losing streak continued for a bit, but then ended against the defending World Series champions.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway shouldn’t have to be said, but it seems that it is said several times a year: They play 162 games for a reason. Some weeks just aren’t going to be good. Other weeks are going to be great. Chances are good that a team is never as good or as bad as they look in those weeks. Cincinnati went on a big losing streak after a big winning streak. The optics were bad. But that’s all it is – optics. The Reds aren’t the worst team in the history of baseball, or anything remotely close to it. They also weren’t going to go 161-1 as they were riding that win streak following opening day.
Sonny Gray returned to form
The first two starts of the season for Sonny Gray didn’t go as well as he would have hoped. Taking on the Dodgers on Wednesday he looked like the Gray that everyone has known for the better part of his big league career. A vintage looking start saw Gray pick up 11 strikeouts in 5.2 innings against the Dodgers that often left the hitters wondering what just happened as they had 15 swings and misses on the day – mostly on his breaking ball.
But it wasn’t just the breaking ball that was working. After the first two starts of the year his average fastball velocity was just 92.1 MPH. On Wednesday he averaged 93.9 MPH with the fastball. While he was charged with the loss in the game that was more due to the fact that the best pitcher of his generation, Clayton Kershaw, was on the other side of the stadium hurling and the Reds couldn’t put a run on the board.
Jesse Winker can rake
The Reds struggled for a bit on the road trip to put together a full game where everything was clicking – thus the losing streak continuing in St. Louis. But we certainly saw Jesse Winker do all that he could to try and carry the offense. He’s leading the National League in hits (29) and average (.377). Winker went 10-26 (.385) on the road trip with three home runs. He drove in six and scored five runs.
The Reds need Eugenio Suárez to get going
It’s April 29th and Eugenio Suárez is hitting .125 with 38 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances. One month a season doesn’t make, but it’s been about as poor of a month as you can remember for a guy that’s hit in the middle of the order.
He’s been incredibly unlucky when he has made contact, rocking a .167 BABIP. But it’s the complete lack of contact that’s killing him at the plate right now. He’s not really chasing pitches out of the zone more than he has at any point in the past. He’s just not swinging at pitches in the zone nearly as much, and when he does swing at pitches out of the zone he’s missing them far more than ever before. His contact on pitches he’s swung at in the zone is down quite a bit, too. There’s a whole lot going on here. With Mike Moustakas back in the lineup after an injured list stint, perhaps having Suárez slide down the lineup a little bit until he gets going is the right move.
The bullpen is a work in progress
Looking at the collective ERA’s in the bullpen will make you feel nauseous. Tejay Antone has a 0.66 ERA. Carson Fulmer has a 3.21 ERA. Only Sean Doolittle is under 6.00 among the rest of the group.
Recent additions Heath Hembree and Ryan Hendrix (and Alex Blandino!) have had early success, but they’ve combined to throw 5.0 innings. Until Sal Romano’s blow up in the 8th inning against the Dodgers where he walked four batters and allowed six earned runs, the bullpen was showing signs of turning things around on the road trip. Up to that point the Reds relief crew had thrown 20.2 innings with just nine hits, eight walks, 21 strikeouts, and a 2.18 ERA.
With how the team treated the bullpen following the 2020 season, the Reds are probably going to need time to best figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Tyler Mahle is good
Ashley Davis wrote about the evolution of Tyler Mahle this morning at Redleg Nation, so go read that if you haven’t already. I won’t dive too deeply into this because Ashley covered it well this morning – but Tyler Mahle’s good at pitching. The 26-year-old has made five starts and posted a 1.75 ERA this season with 11 walks and 36 strikeouts while giving up two home runs. The only nitpicky thing you can try to find against him right now is that he’s barely averaging 5.0 innings per start. Welcome to the new baseball.
We learned the Reds went 4-8 on the road in April against its biggest NL central rival and NL west coast elite team and 2 NL West also rans.
May gives a long 10 game road trip against a decent Al central team then a horrible NL central team then a bad NL west team in a ballpark that messes with pitchers heads ( bullpen nightmares).
Road trip to washington and chicago as well
What will we know by memorial day? That’s a true information point.
It better be the SP has taken control of the season and the young guns of senzel india and stephenson have added to winker castellanos and moose.
This team does have some fight. They just need to find a rhythm, that’s all. It’s very early still. Get healthy. That’ll help.
I learned as much as I think Antone should be a starter they can’t afford to move him there until this bullpen gets sorted out I don’t even think he should be a multiple inning guy he is the guy that needs to be out there in the most important inning as much as he can be rather its the 6th or the 9th but we can’t continue to pitch him 2 or 3 innings 2 times a week. Antone needs to be out there 5 times a week for an inning when it’s most important
Who should he replace? The 3, 4, and 5 are currently the best pitchers in the rotation. I’d wait until an injury happens, or if Miley or Hoffman take a nosedive over 3 starts. Meanwhile Antone is a godsend in the pen.
Antone would be 1 or 2 he is that good
We learned the Reds can step up when needed. They came into LA with a 7 game losing streak, and took the first 2 out of 3, winning the series against the best team in baseball.
Pretty please can we have a thread on the St. Yadier Cardinals being completely and unabashedly, openly favored by MLB?
Asking for Joe Girardi
I learned I still like the players on this team. I learned that players are people too and to slow my roll when Amir had to delete Twitter because the world is full of perfect hypocrites (i’m one of them).
And I learned that the Reds manager doesn’t think it’s worth going for a sweep when down by only two runs, even when said sweep would pick up a game from one of the two series that the Reds had been swept in. (A caveat to that is the that Castellanos probably should have caught out #3 to get Sally out of the inning.) But still
Major cause of concern is Suarez poor hitting, there’s definitely something wrong with him and there isn’t an immediate solution available. Other than that, FO should seek another lefty arm and another starter to move Hoffman to the bullpen. These two moves will allow to option Romano and De Leon.
Hoffman has done a pretty good job overall. De Leon has been decent out of the bullpen most of the time.
Suarez is making me nervous though he just doesn’t seem to be making good contact and he looks way overmatched at the plate from watching the games.
Robert Stephenson has a sub 3.00 ERA so maybe change of scenery was good for both. It is good to see trades work out well for both teams and players involved.
Suarez swings too hard. But how is that changed at the age of 30. Having a mindset that he needs to get 50 homeruns this season, is not the way to go instead of just meeting the ball and perhaps hitting it to the opposite field.
I think we’ve learned that Arizona isn’t a joke. I think we learned that the Cardinals understand it’s a long season…and that the Reds are a few arms short of being a division winning team. It’s almost like we knew that already. I’m not sure how we acquire those arms. Imagine if Hoffman had turned out to be a dud. Some bright spots on this team.
I’d be curious to know the bullpen ERA with a lead and when behind. In other words, are the ugly numbers mostly attributable to pitchers who don’t throw in high leverage situations?
Good question- probably not enough time for those numbers to stabilize enough to be meaningful yet. Sadly, right now there are going to be some huge outlier games where Garret and Sims gave up runs when the Reds were right there in a game. Over the last week it has come back down of course, so time will tell.
In low leverage situations (as defined by Fangraphs), Reds relievers have thrown 119.2 IP and allowed a 0.225 / 0.313 / 0.395 split with an 3.38 ERA, 4.27 FIP, K%-BB% of 15.6%. Average production.
In medium leverage situations, Reds relievers have thrown 72.2 IP and allowed a 0.234 / 0.347 / 0.412 split with an 4.95 ERA, 4.93 FIP, K%-BB% of 13.0%. Bad production.
In high leverage situations, Reds relievers have thrown 20.2 IP and allowed a 0.211 / 0.315 / 0.434 split with an 11.76 ERA, 5.80 FIP, K%-BB% of 6.7%. Horrendous production.
I strongly second the comment above that we learned this Reds team has heart and desire to fight for victory.
The season is a long haul but when all is said and done it is often defined by short stretches of winning or losing. Over their last 10 games, the Reds are 2-8 while the 3 teams above them have won 7/6/6 each in their last 10. Thus the Reds have dropped at least 4 games to all of these teams in the last 10 played. Without those 2 wins in LA, the Reds would be -5 to the division leader in the loss column. So, no doubt those were huge wins.
Thanks to the padding of the early win streak and the two games won in LA, the Reds avoided a season defining disaster; but their work is cut out for them as the season moves forward.
I agree Jim
1. swagger- check
2. character- check
3. ability to get up off the mat and fight back- check
4. the quiet confidence that the really good teams have- not quite there yet. but i think 2/3 from the dodgers is a good step. sweeping the cubs would be an even bigger step
Reds need to be ready. The Cubs could be a trap series for them after beating the Dodgers 2 of 3.
Both the teams are without a doubt viewing the series as an opportunity to get above one of the teams immediately above them who are playing each other (Pirates/ Cards in Pitt) and close ground against the Brewers who are playing Dodgers in Milwaukee.
Suarez 2020-21 is hitting .178 over 286 at-bats. Thats crazy? I’m racking my brain to think of a guy that suddenly lost it at 29-30 years old like Eugenio. Thats half a season….thats not a slump. Gary Sanchez looks like he’s done as a slugger, but he’s probably banged up from catching. The thing is somebody is blocked if you keep running Eugenio out there and even more so when Shogo gets back. I guarantee India could play SS atleast as well as Suarez and that would free up 2B for Senzel. They have options.
The Reds also have ~$40M in remaining sunken costs in Saurez. That figures in the equation.
Homer Bailey 2.0 ?
Sunk cost fallacy = losing
@rojo: That money is thru the ’24 season plus a $2m buyout (included in the 40m) against a $15M option for ’25.
At the time Suarez was signed to his current deal (March 2018) I don’t recall anyone on this site, including myself, who thought it was anything other than a good deal for the club. It locked him in from his 26-32 year old seasons for guaranteed money of ($66m) and even the option year looked like it might be a winner for the club.
The way Suarez is striking out at an increased rate and reacting to some pitches, it seems like he isn’t seeing the ball well at all. Maybe that’s fixable.
Suarez had an awful April but so did some other big names.
Marcel Ozuna Braves-dreadful.
Aaron Hicks Yankees- awful.
Andrew McCutcheon phillies-awful
Ian Happ and Joc Pederson Cubbies- worse than Suarez.
Matt Carpenter Cardinals- on the verge of getting DFA’d despite $20 million salary owed
Factor in Goldschmidt contract at 33 and Molina on the DL at age 39 and ex Cards super prospect Carson Kelly the best catcher in the game right now for Arizona… tough sledding in St Louie.