The Cincinnati Reds (20-25) have reached a danger point in the 2021 season. The Reds enter play Tuesday 5.0 back in the NL Central. There are still 117 games to play, but the Reds are staring at dominating starting pitchers in two of the next three days. The Reds seemingly have a team with little margin for error, which it makes it difficult to see them overcoming 8 or 9 games back in the division.

The Reds will start a six-game road trip tonight against the Washington Nationals (20-23) at 7:05 PM. The Nationals are coming off a series sweep of the Orioles, but prior to that were 5-11 in their previous 16 games.

The face of the Nationals is Juan Soto. He is having a fine season so far (120 wRC+), but the Nationals have been led by rising superstar Trea Turner. He is hitting .324./363/.545 with a 140 wRC+. He is a force at the top of the Nats lineup. Cincinnati’s own Josh Harrison (131 wRC+) and Kyle Schwarber (116 wRC+) have been big pickups for Washington. Schwarber has been on a tear lately, hitting .302/.422/.679 with 6 HR and 192 wRC+ over the last 14 games.

The Nats setup guy, Daniel Hudson has been nearly untouchable (17.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 22 K). Their closer Brad Hand hasn’t been as dominant (3.63 ERA and 8 walks in 17.2 IP). The rest of the Nationals bullpen is fairly average.

Starting Pitchers

Tyler Mahle has 7 starts this season where he has allowed 2 ER or less. The other two starts he allowed 6 and 7 ER. Mahle has a career 12.12 ERA in 2 starts against the Nationals, but his last start back in 2019 wasn’t so bad: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 8 K.

Future Hall of Fame pitcher Max Scherzer is just having another incredible season. He has a career 2.01 ERA in 7 starts against the Reds.

Starting Lineups

Reds Nationals
1. Eugenio Suárez (3B)
2. Jesse Winker (LF)
3. Nick Castellanos (RF)
4. Tyler Naquin (CF)
5. Tyler Stephenson (1B)
6. Tucker Barnhart (C)
7. Kyle Farmer (SS)
8. Jonathan India (2B)
9. Tyler Mahle (P)
1. Trea Turner (SS)
2. Juan Soto (RF)
3. Josh Bell (1B)
4. Kyle Schwarber (LF)
5. Starlin Castro (3B)
6. Josh Harrison (2B)
7. Yan Gomes (C)
8. Andrew Stevenson (CF)
9. Max Scherzer (P)

Eugenio Suárez is batting leadoff for the first time in his career. This seems like a desperate move from David Bell, but why not? What is the worst that could happen from this move with a very short lineup as it is. Suarez has been swinging at the most pitches outside of the strike zone of his career, while making the least amount of contact of his career. Lineup protection is typically something that is generally fairly overvalued, but it’s hard to see how batting in front of Winker and Castellanos would hurt Suarez’ chances of seeing better pitches. Suarez is just 1 for 13 off Scherzer, but Max does have a slightly below average HR/9 rate. It would be nice to see Geno ambush Mad Max to lead off the game tonight.

Bad juju for Mad Max?

The Punisher is Coming 


Max Scherzer is really good. Tyler Mahle has had his moments of dominance this season. The Reds will need Mahle to give them a big start tonight, and maybe they can get into the Nationals bullpen that seems due for some regression. Go Reds!

141 Responses

  1. J

    Mahle is hitting just .091 this season. Why not have him leading off? Gotta get him going somehow.

    • Sliotar

      IMO, it’s getting very hard to tell with Nick if Bell has EVER made a bad move.

      Things could have been done with Suarez … and should have been done.
      (Including trying this at home against weaker competition, like vs. Brewers SPs).

      They weren’t … and here things are.

      Guy at -0.4 WAR, 54 wRC+, 33% K rate … not named Billy Hamilton.
      Batting leadoff vs. Scherzer, getting that 5th AB possibly, maybe in a key situation.

      Sub-optimal, desperate and bad management, regardless of AB outcomes tonight.

      • Rex

        I’m gonna light a candle…who knows it might help

      • Nick Kirby

        Pretty decent managing by Bell tonight, but I guess it’s not as fun to give any praise as to constantly criticize.

    • Nelson COBLE

      This coaching staff is a joke. Where is Shogo? Castillo should have already been sent down. Give the young pitchers a chance.

  2. Old-school

    This season is on the brink. Injuries plus prolonged slumps from Castillo and Suarez plus losing Bauer and no SS. It’s catching up fast.
    Sam Lecure had an interesting thought to get Castillo going since he cant get guys out in the first inning. Use an opener in his next start.

    Something has to change very soon indeed or the Reds chance of making the playoffs will be extinguished by early June. The NL West has 3 teams more than 10 games over .500.

    Go Reds.

    • Rex

      since Antone is not “stretched out” why not see if he can go 3 or 4 innings as an opener

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      Six players players in IL so far, don’t recall so many at the same time in recent years.

    • Melvin

      Reminds me of a Dusty Baker move where he would take the worst hitter in the lineup and put him in front of Votto so he would get better pitches to hit. lol SMH

      • Melvin

        Well, since it’s happening I hope it somehow works.

      • MBS

        Yes, the math is clear on that, the leadoff gets more AB’s on average. Also the leadoff is typically a high OBP guy, so does that fact mean they are less likely to get the last out? Probably not, but I think it’s an interesting thought.

    • Don

      Suarez will not hit into a DP his 1st AB.

      having 2 batters in front of Winker and Castellanos which based on stats will not be on base more than once in the game means they will have little chance to drive anyone else in for a run.

      agree with Sliotar, poor choice no matter what occurs.

      • Melvin

        Yeah. If the idea was to put him in front of our best hitters then bat him 8th or 9th even. Now it very well could mean that our two best hitters won’t get an extra AB at the end of the game when we need them most.

      • MBS

        I’ve never been a fan of having your best hitter in the leadoff. I didn’t like having Larkin there, and I don’t like Winker there. The thing is Winker is thriving in the leadoff so I’m not going to argue to change what’s working. So I kinda agree with you, bat Suarez 9, but also fundamentally disagree with the best hitter as the leadoff. The other day I put out there Shogo 9, and India 8 to get runners ahead of those 2 bats. That was for next season with the DH.

      • Melvin

        Maybe not your best hitter but definitely a good hitter for me. How many times in baseball do you work hard to get to the top of your lineup at the end of the game when it’s close. Just a good OBP guy is not good enough. Has to be able to hit too.

      • MBS

        Interesting point. I wonder if anyone knows how to look up what spot in the lineup most often ends the game.

      • Melvin

        Don’t know about that MBS. One thing is for sure. A leadoff hitter has a better chance of getting an extra AB than anyone else. Could be a difference maker.

  3. LDS

    So in “modern” baseball swinging for the fences, tending to uppercut, and striking out frequently isn’t a mechanics issue? And Bell aka Mr. Platitude should not be an MLB manager or a manager of any type, anywhere, in any industry.

    • Melvin

      Maybe we should hit the pitcher at leadoff. He probably would be worse than Suarez. Well maybe not. 🙂

  4. DataDumpster

    When Geno says he “just can’t wait to get hot” and David Bell says “We know he is going to get out of it. That’s how we approach it”, I don’t see anything but the old “trust it” slogan. Same with Castillo. Looks like the law of averages is the strategy. It also seems odd that Moose, Senzel and Lorenzen at the least have all had injuries that were deemed very minor but just won’t go away. Looks like a couple of lucky trades before the deadline is the only way to salvage this season if possible.

    • Old-school

      What we didn’t hear is Geno is watched video with our hitting coaches and spent time in the cages with the off day with Zinter and feels he got a good day of work in and identified some areas of improvement with our staff.

      My question would to Bell as a journalist would center around those issues. Is he working with the hitting coaches in the cage and using the Reds resources available to get better?

    • MBS

      I think the only way to salvage this season is to get Castillo normal again. Losing 20% of the games from 1 starter is not good. If we took his starts out, we’d be over 500. I’m still confident he’ll turn it around, I’m just not as confident that it will be in time to salvage the season.

  5. Jim Walker

    One of those old, old, BCE Greek guys supposedly said, “Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures”. With his front office and ownership sitting on their hands and wallet respectively, at least Bell is trying to shake things up.

  6. MBS

    I’m happy about Suarez at leadoff. He has the propensity to take a walk. Hopefully leading off will change his approach. He obviously has the skills, and seems healthy, so it’s either between the ears, or a mechanical issue. This move could address both if it works out, or we see an 0 – 4 performance. Let’s face it, we will probably have several of those today against Scherzer.

  7. CI3J

    Anyone remember when Bob Boone batted Dunn leadoff? And now Bell is using the Dusty “gotta get him going” line.

    Next Bell needs to go on an F-Bomb tirade against the media and we’ll have a trifecta of him channeling recent managers.

    • MBS

      I pay to watch that, lol. I forgot about that, I guess managing the Reds makes people go crazy.

    • DataDumpster

      Maybe when Max has his way with the Reds, we can see the fiery rookie manager David Bell of 2019 arguing vehemently about balls, strikes, and inside pitches and getting tossed but I’m afraid he’s lost his nerve. Of course, it was all silly but entertaining and seems Freddy B. had a decent record when forced into service.

  8. Bred

    Optimist believe the Reds’ season is on the brink. Realist are checking for hotels in Goodyear for spring training next year. Pessimists are thinking a rebuild is coming and the decade is lost. As I sit here wondering why I should watch the game tonight, I question myself why I have hung around and watched fo the past 7 seasons. My answer is Votto’s ABs were once magical to watch. Brandon’s wizardry at 2nd was a joy to see. Hamilton’s catches were highlight worthy. Bruce sure could get into one. Although it is ancient history, the young pitchers who were to save Reds’ baseball were something to tune in for. I guess add in hope. Hope that the Reds have squandered while mistakes piled up. Injuries have been costly this year, but the team as constructed was not going to win a weak division. Still I hang on to them like a high school kid who thinks the cute girl likes him. The Reds are in my blood that is just the way it is.

    • Mark Moore

      I’m a realistic optimist with family in Glendale. Maybe 2022 will be my chance to go see some ST games … 🙂

  9. Roger Garrett

    Mahle has good stuff but just can’t throw strikes.Turner never even swung until it went 3-2.

  10. Roger Garrett

    Full count on the first three hitters and he walks the third guy.Won’t make it past the 4th.Amazing how many walks we give up.

  11. VaRedsFan

    Max Scherzer’s o/u for K’s tonight is 8.5

  12. Melvin

    Did Barnhart just swing on a 3-0 pitch?

    • VaRedsFan

      He must have been trying to do damage

  13. Roger Garrett

    Naquin and TySteve both strike out making contact once and Tucker swings on 3-0 and grounds out.I don’t have any more words left to describe things like that.You have to get on base to score last time I checked and Tucker is not going to take Max deep.

    • Melvin

      At least if he gets on and the pitcher Ks we get to start the next inning at the top. Little things.

      • Melvin

        Of course Tucker wasn’t batting 8th this time though was he? He is hitting a lot better. Still though. 🙂

  14. Mark Moore

    I thought I had commented about Suarez leading off, but I guess I imagined that.

    In any case, it is something “different” even if the first time out he K’d. If we won’t pull the “fake IL” stint or drop him to 8th … you all know the drill.

    Raleigh is in the Nats’ market, so I won’t watch this series. I’ll follow along here and on Gameday for as long as I can take it. Runs could be scarce for us tonight like Doug said.

    • JB

      Bell needs to leave Suarez at lead off for the series. Putting him there for only tonight against Scherzer would be garbage. Everybody struggles against Scherzer. Except Farmer. Go figure.

      • Mark Moore

        Maybe. Not sure we have other, better options? That is, if DB isn’t going to bench him.

  15. Sliotar

    Kyle Farmer making bid to be tomorrow’s leadoff hitter.

  16. Mark Moore

    He just can’t help himself, can he?

    Was it really that high? Gameday had it about at his shoulders if not a little higher.

    • Melvin

      You know what they say, “Never throw a strike if you don’t have to”.

    • JB

      He has 2 at bats where he went to full counts. That’s all I got. Got to find something positive here.

  17. Mark Moore

    46 pitches through 3. Going to be a tight couple of innings. At least MVP Farmer put us on the board.

  18. Indy Red Man

    I love it! Its going to be pretty difficult for Suarez to strand 5-6 guys batting leadoff. He’s either going to turn it around or have the worst hitting season in the history of the game.

    Actually I like Bell more and more as the season progresses. The manager is always the scapegoat, but he seems to try new things and experiment much much quicker then Dusty or Price.

  19. Doc

    Suarez already has games with 1, 2, 3, and 4 Ks. Bell probably wants to give Geno a chance to go for 5 in a game. So far it appears the plan is working!

    • Sliotar

      This is the Gallows-type humor the RLN Game Thread is known for.

      Well done, Doc.

    • Mark Moore

      Ah, the elusive Platinum Sombrero!!

      I think he can pull it off (hasn’t he done it before?)

  20. JB

    Thom would not be happy with Schwarber if he was announcing. Does anybody know where Schwarber is from?

  21. Mark Moore

    A Schwarber error (go figure) and it looks like we’ll waste it.

  22. Roger Garrett

    Nether Naquin or Ty Steve made contact again and both have punched out twice.Max is in a class by himself.You don’t get many chances and we just had one get away.

    • J

      I assume Naquin probably doesn’t know how to bunt, but that was a perfect time for a squeeze.

  23. Old-school

    Jon india wins the at bat

    Great plate discipline

  24. Mark Moore

    No sac bunt attempt? C’mon guys! Got to play the basics.

    • docproc

      Makes no sense to have Mahle swinging away there. They got what they deserved.

    • Sliotar

      Perhaps Mahle felt he had a better chance of a hit than the leadoff guy behind him.

      • Melvin

        Pretty sad but might be true unfortunately.

  25. Melvin

    Good ol free swinging no small ball philosophy comes through there again doesn’t it.

  26. Chris

    Mahle for 6
    Antone for 3

    “Let’s blanking GO!”

  27. Sliotar

    Third time through lineup for Scherzer.

    He only has about 25 pitches before he red lines.

    Might be Clobberin’ Time for the top of the order.

    • Sliotar

      3 outs away.

      When you can keep Trea Turner completely off basepaths …

      and, so far … Soto to a single and get that Schwarber guy who grew in some unknown Ohio town at 0-3 ….

      really need to take advantage and close it out.

  28. Mark Moore

    Picture if you will, a scenario where that dinger came the inning before with men on 2nd and 3rd because Mahle had bunted them over … our own version of the Twilight Zone.

  29. docproc

    I will now officially tip my hat to David Bell.

    • LDS

      Tip the hat to Bell? For? And now that Suarez has hit a HR in the #1 slot, are we going to have to listen to how he’s back like the last time he hit a HR?

      • docproc

        Gutsy and unconventional move that paid off.


    I’m happy for the Suarez HR but I’m afraid that only makes him go for more HRs which is counterproductive. We’ll take what we can get for now and be happy for it.

    • docproc

      Yeah, but he went to RF with it. Didn’t try to pull it. That kind of HR isn’t counterproductive.

    • Broseph

      Until David “the hook” Bell enters

    • RedsMonk65

      Has given up fewer hits than Max. Who woulda thunk?

      Here comes Antone.

    • docproc

      Taking back my hat tip to Bell. Hooked Mahle too early.

  31. Tom Mitsoff

    Looks like that pitching change worked out well! It will be interesting to see how long Antone goes tonight.

    • MBS

      Hopefully we can add a couple of runs, so Antone isn’t forced into too many innings.

  32. Broseph

    Im glad the pitching change worked but let’s look at the other side – this season while not lost, is lost looking at all the analysis, why not let Mahle groom into a seasons veteran pitcher against adversity.

    One hit that was that was a lifesavoe flair from Soto and Bell doesn’t give Mahle the benefit of the doubt? If he walks the next batter, fine pull him, but he deserves to be in there and you could see it in Mahle’s reaction before Bell got to the mound.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      My counter-argument is that Mahle needs to improve his control before he gets the benefit of the doubt in those situations. He doesn’t walk a lot, but he goes deep into the count to so many batters. He often hits 70-80 pitches in the fourth inning. I’m not saying he can be like Scherzer, but Scherzer is not afraid to challenge hitters. Mahle either is afraid to challenge hitters early in counts or just doesn’t have fine enough control in and around the strike zone to put it where he wants to consistently.

    • Melvin

      I can see Mahle staying in the game there but also agree that if he wants to be an elite pitcher, which I think he can be, he will have to be more efficient with his pitches especially if he wants to pitch deeper in games consistently.

  33. Old-school

    Good night for reds drafting and developing pitchers. Mahle matches Scherzer and Lodolo 6 more shutout innings 7k 1bb

    This use to be the franchise that couldnt draft and develop pitching

    Mahle is their Ace.

    • MBS

      Our Mid Game Closer to. Antone is possible the best pitcher we have.

      • Old-school

        Antone more Reds home grown pitching with 6 more outs

  34. MBS

    Just checked in on the AA team too, any idea why J. Garcia isn’t playing? Injured?

    • JB

      I believe he has missed the last 2 as well.

  35. LDS

    Do these guys have a green light to steal whenever or is someone calling these plays? That’s the second time in a week to end the ending this way.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      That was just silly. No idea what was going on there.

  36. Mark Moore

    OK, one step closer to a road win. Maybe a little add-on??? Please???

    • Mark Moore

      Batman continues on his pace. Got to love it!

  37. DaveCT

    I’m dying.

    Sadak: Hey! Could this be a question of pitching Antone a third inning?

    Welsh: Oh, well we’ll see …

    DaveCT: Who are you kidding? Antone is in the game the end. Or better be ..,

    • DaveCT

      Captain Hook is really growing on me.

      When TJ pitches, I want a minimum of three innings out of the pen. Non negotiable. If you are holding him back in the pen, vs. starting, at least give him more experience in return. He’s gone to the rotation this year or next, no matter what. Just do what’s best. For a change.

      Make this one part of our money’s worth, Big Bob of Losing

  38. Rex

    tonight feels like a must win to avoid the sweep

    • Sliotar

      When you can keep Trea Turner completely off basepaths …

      and, so far … Soto to a single and get that Schwarber guy who grew in some unknown Ohio town at 0-3 ….

      really need to take advantage and close it out.

      • Rex

        yup yup…Turner is deadly on the bases

  39. Old-school

    2-0 baseball games can be well played exciting baseball.

    Finish this

  40. JB

    We need more runs here now that Antone’s out. I dont trust the rest of the crew in the bullpen.

  41. LGR

    Suggested 3 way trade. Thoughts?

    Mets get Naquin and Akiyama from the Reds.
    Reds get Mancini from the Orioles and Gsellman from the Mets.
    Orioles get India OR Garcia from the Reds and Matt Allan from the Mets.

    Mets need outfield help, badly.
    Reds need someone to hit consistently behind Wink and Big Nick.
    Orioles need young players with upside.

    • Sliotar

      I think Naquin and Akiyama are badly overvalued in this scenario.
      They are 30 y.o. and over fringe outfielders.

      Beyond that … where is Mancini playing on the Reds?

      • LGR

        The Mets outfield is in dire need of anything. Naquin’s contract is very team friendly. Akiyama’s isn’t, but I think his bat plays better in New York than it does in Cincinnati. Not that he has had much chance to play in Cincy. Mancini plays 1st til Votto comes back then plays left. Let Winker play center. This team isn’t winning off defense anyway. Just outhit everyone.

    • LDS

      Seems rather expensive and doesn’t address the SS issue. At this point, I would not want to give up India or Garcia. I’d give up Suarez before that.

      • LGR

        I think bringing in Mancini while getting rid of Akiyama’s contract would be a big win. Suarez is unmovable with the way he’s playing. I don’t hate him playing, but I think he should definitely be batting 7th or lower. Having a 35+ homer guy batting 7th isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’m all for bringing up Garcia as well.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      David Bell is trusting Amir. 🙂 I would definitely have Sims warming, though.

      • Mark Moore

        You called it, Tom. Let’s hope it works for the good guys.

  42. DaveCT

    Best pitch of the season, the high and tight fb from Garrett to Soto.

  43. Mark Moore

    Gameday would appear that AG grooved that one a bit. Of course, Bell is a good hitter, so …

    BTW – any of y’all been to Nationals Park? I’ve been twice. Very nice place.

      • Mark Moore

        I worked for a company in Chantilly. We had some company seats.

    • Sliotar

      I have heard Nats Park is a “need to attend” … right behind PNC in Pittsburgh and a couple of others.

      I was told to “avoid a humid day there.” (LOL … isn’t that like 2/3rds of home schedule?)

    • TR

      IMO, PNC Park, Oracle Park (SF) and for that matter GABP are in better locations than Nationals Park.

  44. VaRedsFan

    Book it….good job pitchers….even AG.
    No walks by the relievers.

  45. LDS

    Garrett had an opportunity to make a performance statement and he let it slip away. At least Sims brought it home.

    • Rex

      well he didn’t start a riot so I’m happy

  46. Mark Moore

    Big win in my book! Battled it out against a top-tier starter. Only wish I could have watched it instead of just GameDay.

  47. RedsMonk65

    Reds win! Nice show. Better than expected pitching from the good guys. And Max was very good, but not invincible. We still rely too much on the home run for offensive production, but a win is a win. Let’s string some together now.

  48. Dennis Westrick

    Maybe I’m not the genius that Bell is! So, you use TA for 2.2 innings for a total of 33 pitches! Now he’s probably not available tomorrow! Why not let him pitch the 9th and finish it? If he becomes a starter he will throw more than 33 pitches, hopefully!
    In any event, just happy to get a much needed win!

  49. LGR

    Now Bell. I know he homered. But I NEVER wanna see Suarez batting leadoff ever again. Made me wanna puke.

    • Dennis Westrick

      If Suarez bats leadoff he’ll be pretty much guaranteed 4 ABs. So, the odds are better that he will have a home run to offset the 3 SOs. Gotta get those 50 HRs!

      • LGR

        Can’t tell if you like him there lol. Who would you rather have 4 ABs. Winker or Suarez lol.