On Friday night we saw what had to be the best defensive play that Jesse Winker has ever made. The left fielder ranged back to the warning track before leaping at the wall and taking a home run away from Eric Hosmer.
This man deserves to be an All-Star!
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 19, 2021
Watching it live, the immediate reaction from Winker seemed to be one of “I would have had that if the fans hadn’t been there”, but it turned out that was the reaction of “heck yeah I caught that ball”.
But let’s talk about that “This man deserves to be an All-Star” tag the Reds used in the tweet. They are not wrong. At all. There’s almost no way he doesn’t make the All-Star team. You can argue that he’s the best hitter in the National League right now. He’s hitting .344 (which leads the league) with 17 home runs, 43 RBI, and an OPS of 1.035.
While looking up some stats this morning I noticed something absolutely crazy: Jesse Winker has played in 62 games this year. At no point after a single game was his OPS any lower than .936 on the season. He’s only finished a game with an OPS under 1.000 eight times. The lowest his batting average has been after a game was completed is .338 and that came on May 20th.
Joey Votto’s Ejection
It’s still tough to really know what happened with yesterday’s ejection of Joey Votto. It began when he disagreed with the third base umpire who said he swung, rather than checked his swing on what wound up being a called strike three. Votto told the third base umpire, assuming my lip reading skills are good enough, “I didn’t go on that one”. He was on his way to the dugout at that point and wasn’t overly upset. But a few seconds later he heard something from the plate and turned and asked “what did you say to me?!” and that’s when Votto came to the plate to argue with the home plate umpire Ryan Additon. David Bell and Freddie Benavides both came onto the field to try and get between Votto and Additon. It didn’t exactly work well.
Joey Votto was ejected from the game and continued to get his money’s worth, but eventually everyone headed back to the dugout. But things weren’t over there, as a Padres fans right next to the Reds dugout was ejected from the game. We still don’t really know what took place there. But a few seconds later the crew chief came over to the dugout to talk with David Bell and informed him that during the argument at the plate he was also ejected and he didn’t seem to know it. That led to another on-field argument as Bell also got his money’s worth.
If nothing else, and there wasn’t much good to take from the sequence of events, it did lead to Joey Votto showing how awesome he is. A 6-year-old Joey Votto fan was at her first baseball game and was heart broken to find out that after that point Votto would no longer be playing in the game.
— Kristin (@SuperBarry11) June 19, 2021
Not all was lost, though. The Reds and eventually Joey Votto saw the tweet and made the best of a bad situation. Votto sent out an autographed baseball for Abigail with a personalized note on it.
I have an update on the sad Abigail situation! It took a couple of innings, but she eventually cheered up with some popcorn! And Joey Votto is SO KIND- he signed this amazing ball for her!! Thank you so much Mr. Votto & the wonderful @Reds ???? pic.twitter.com/aIsHx3r42N
— Kristin (@SuperBarry11) June 20, 2021
As reported by Mark Sheldon of Reds.com – Kyle Farmer and Lucas Sims had provided autographs for the family’s children prior to the game, too.
The shaky bullpen returns
Tejay Antone, where art thou? Well, the good news is that he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session today and if it goes as expected he should be activated on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins.
After about a two week stretch of the Reds bullpen looking strong as an entire unit, the three games in San Diego have been a big welcome back to reality moment.The series began when Cincinnati scored four runs in the top of the 9th inning to grab a 4-2 lead. With a bullpen that didn’t have several guys available the Reds turned to Ryan Hendrix to try and close the game out. Instead he and Amir Garrett combined to allow four runs while recording just one out as the Padres walked it off.
Friday saw David Bell take a risk in pinch-hitting for starter Tony Santillan in the top of the 4th inning with two men on in a 1-run game, hoping to get some more runs on the board. Shogo Akiyama instead struck out to end the inning. The bullpen then immediately gave up two runs, and three more later as the Padres secured an 8-2 win. Last night the bullpen looked to keep a 5-5 game all tied up. It didn’t happen as Ha-seong Kim hit a 2-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 8th to put San Diego ahead for good as the Padres clinched a series win.
There aren’t really any answers right now in the minor leagues. Perhaps you can put Tony Santillan in the bullpen when Sonny Gray returns and that could help. But that leaves you with one less option for a starter if someone were to get injured again. Something has to change, though. The Reds are currently just three games back of first place and with even a below-average bullpen they could be leading the division. Instead they’ve got a fuel tanker and a flame thrower for a bullpen.
There aren’t exactly free agents out there on June 20th. Trades could be there, but that would require ownership being willing to pay the salary of an acquisition and there’s absolutely no reason at all to believe that’s going to happen. That puts the front office, the manager, and the players all in a bad position. Nick Krall and his crew look bad because they aren’t making moves and get blamed for not being creative enough, or making all of these acquisitions of poor relievers. David Bell gets criticized for not bringing in the right bullpen arm when the reality is there is not an answer no matter what he does given what options he actually has to pick from. Some of the relievers simply aren’t good enough. And the position guys, and starting pitchers deserve better. They are put in an impossible situation. And all of it comes back to ownership not being willing to commit to actually trying to put a winning team on the field this year.