Connor Overton and two relievers combined to record the Cincinnati Reds’ first shutout of the season, a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (8-24) 4 9 0
Pittsburgh Pirates (13-18)
0 4 0
W: Overton (1-0) L: Brubaker (0-3)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Hey, now! We’re beginning to have a little bit of fun, huh? Tonight, the Cincinnati Reds:

  • snapped a 13-game road losing streak
  • registered their fifth win in seven games
  • held a team to zero runs for the first time all season

Somehow, the vibe / energy / aura / focus of this team has changed tremendously in the past week — a welcome turn of events for all of us here in Redleg Nation. What’s happened? The bats have come alive, as will be revealed in the section of this article covering the offense. This team is getting hits, making quality pitches and making defensive plays at times when the result is still in question.

This is supposition only, but this author believes after the Reds were thrashed in Los Angeles and San Diego in early April, in the wake of:

  • the roster being gutted by the front office
  • Phil Castellini’s suggestion to the fans to be careful what they wish for
  • injuries galore

this team may have collectively believed they were indeed the dregs of baseball. The results certainly validated that mindset.

We’re now seeing a combination of factors leading to this recent change:

  • playing non-elite teams
  • underperforming players beginning to perform like their baseball card says they should
  • Mike Moustakas and Tyler Stephenson showing flashes of being the difference-making hitters they have been expected to be

I’m certainly not trying to say a long-term dramatic turnaround is in store. There are still too many injuries and question marks. Let’s see how things go next week in Cleveland and Toronto. But hey, now! We’re having fun and enjoying our Reds again.

The Offense

Leading off the top of the second inning, Moustakas lifted one to deep right that would certainly have been a home run at Great American Ball Park, but bounced back into the field of play for a double in PNC Park. It didn’t matter, because Tyler Stephenson followed with a hit to center scoring Moose to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, Stephenson continued his current trend of mashing everything he’s hitting:

That came against Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker who pitched at Tecumseh High School in New Carlisle (between Dayton and Springfield).

Cincinnati added two in the eighth on a single by Colin Moran and a double by Tyler Naquin to account for the final 4-0 score. Stephenson’s three hits and Naquin’s two led the hit parade.

So here’s what’s been happening for Reds hitters in the past seven days:

Six hitters have OPS marks over .800:

  • Brandon Drury, 1.362
  • Moran, 1.172
  • Stephenson, 1.145
  • Moustakas, .867
  • Naquin, .851
  • Albert Almora, .833

As a team over the past seven days, the Reds rank first in OPS (.839), RBI (52), doubles (19), hits (64) and runs (53). Small sample size, yes. But what a difference from April!

The Pitching

Connor Overton continues to be the “stopper” that we never expected:

The righthander became the first Reds starter with a “quality” start, defined as 6 or more innings while surrendering 3 or fewer runs. He also became the first Reds starter to qualify for a quality start because he became the first Reds starter to pitch at least six innings.

He allowed three hits and walked four in 6.1 innings, while striking out only one. He consistently fell behind Pittsburgh hitters, but more often than not, recovered to induce them to hit the ball at somebody for an out. That’s the way those of us who have been watching the game for a long time remember games being played.

AND, Overton registered his first major league victory. He dropped his ERA to 1.59. He’s been effective every time he’s been given the ball. From my perspective, despite the fact there will be several pitchers coming off the injured list, he deserves to stay in the big leagues until he proves otherwise.

Luis Cessa pitched 1.2 innings in the seventh and eighth, allowing nothing. Art Warren finished the combined shutout, blanking the Bucs in the bottom of the ninth.

We’re beginning to see who David Bell can truly count on in the bullpen, it seems. I’m anxious to see Alexis Diaz be given a shot at the closer role.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, May 13, 6:35 p.m. ET

Tyler Mahle (1-4, 6.46 ERA) vs. Mitch Keller (0-4, 6.11 ERA)

60 Responses

  1. Votto4life

    Tom,
    Do you know anything about Alex “Scary” McGarry playing to Dayton? He is off to a great year. Just wondering what is outlook is?

    Reply
      • Votto4life

        2020ball

        Thank you I keep forgetting about that site. I posted my question there. Thank you very much.

      • 2020ball

        I looked into him after typing this. The offensive numbers are great so far but he’s striking out a lot. As long as youre balancing that with walks theres been plenty of hitters who succeed with that sort of profile.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Likewise, I would suggest asking Doug. I don’t follow the minors nearly as closely as he does.

      Reply
  2. Old-school

    Reds pitching shuts out Pirates with only 2 K’s.
    Missing Bats or soft contact?

    Ill take soft contact and real pitching.

    Reply
    • Redsvol

      +200. I wish more of our pitchers didn’t need to rely on straight gas all the time. Good for Conner Overton. Mahle and Greene need to learn how to pitch and change speeds.

      Reply
  3. Mark Moore

    Very fun watching tonight. A solid win, even if it was the Pie-rats.

    Reply
  4. Votto4life

    Tyler Stephenson is where the Reds should spend some money. I think a LTC is in order for him and India.

    Stephenson has the chance to be the third best catcher in Red’s history behind Bench and Lombardi. He is a special player.

    Reply
    • SultanofSwaff

      I had him pegged as a multiple all-star at catcher and firmly believe that, but I suspect his body type will ultimately see him playing more games at 1B and DH.

      Reply
      • BK

        Fellow Georgia native and 7-time All-Star/11-time Silver Slugger Brian McCann had a similar body type (6’3″, 225) and had a 15-year career as a catcher logging 32 bWAR. While the DH/1B afford the Reds options to limit the wear and tear on Stephenson, I’d like to see him stick as the primary catcher for the next several years and McCann provides a blueprint to follow.

    • Bob Purkey

      Surely you jest. . .how about Ed Bailey, Smokey Burgess, Johnny Edwards, Pat Corrales, Bill Plummer, Joe Oliver, Devin Mesoraco, and last but not least Corky Miller

      Reply
  5. Jeff Morris

    Great win for the Reds. Great effort by the Reds. What about Overton! Got to tip your hat to this guy for how he is pitching this year. I just get frustrated by all these injuries galore the Reds have had this year, but the players that are healthily and playing, great effort from them.

    Reply
  6. Dennis Westrick

    Outstanding job by Connor Overton! Would like to see him reduce the walks which will enable him to maybe pitch a complete game! Can’t remember the last time the Reds won in a shutout! Overton, Lodolo and Greene bring promise for the future!

    Reply
  7. Rednat

    Tom,
    i agree with everything you said except I think the Brewers ARE an “elite” team. they have all the components you need to be a good team. i have been impressed with them so taking 2 out 3 from the Brewers is a good accomplishment

    Reply
  8. 2020ball

    Great win, glad I tuned in. My only gripe is why is Friedl leading off.

    Reply
  9. Steven Ross

    Nice win. Overton our best pitcher.
    Who called that one? How do take Moran out? Drury & Reynolds too. Reds are fun to watch again. Keep it going.

    Reply
    • JayTheRed

      I’d Like to hang onto Pham if we can. Guy has great energy I can’t imagine he is going to cost 20 million either like Castellanos was going to. Maybe he would sign for around 12 to 14 Million a year. on a 2 or 3 year deal.

      Reply
      • Frostgiant80

        Pham is 34. So I wouldn’t want any 2-3 year deals. Let the young guys come up and figure it out.

    • DHud

      Get anything you can out of Drury, Reynolds, Pham, Solano, and Moran. I’d go as far as saying Moose and Naquin too

      Yes, it’s fun that they’re winning some games right now. But the reality probably is all in that first group are replacement level players on collective hot streaks right now. There’s a reason the reds picked them off the scrap heap last winter. Maybe you get a yr or two cheap out of Pham to provide some depth and veteran presence or maybe you buy into Drury’s new plate approach, but most likely none are staples on the next competitive Reds team

      Thank them for their service and get Barrero, Friedl, Schrock, etc on the field

      Reply
      • SultanofSwaff

        I agree DHud with maybe the exception of Drury. I’m a believer in his plate approach. If he would agree to a 2 year extension in the $15mil range it would provide a nice depth piece/bridge to McClain.

        For that to happen the Reds need to eat a chunk of Moose’s contract and commit the savings to Drury.

      • MK

        Might be a time to move Castillo. His performance has seemed to plateaued, his long term health might be more of a question and his value might soon go down. Should trade players a year early rather than a year late.

        For those who criticize the bargain basement signings, Overton might be climbing the steps from the basement. /little gamble but returns are possible.

  10. LDS

    Good to see a shutout win, though I’m not a fan of the QS metric. I remember back when no one called a 4.50 ERA quality. Sadly, a sweep, which would be nice and even possible, still leaves the Reds a game and a half behind the Pirates. That 1-20 streak is going to take a long time to overcome. Thanks Phil – any other suggestions for the fans? We certainly have some for you – sell.

    Reply
    • Tom Mitsoff

      I’m with you, the QS metric doesn’t equal a quality start in my book.

      Reply
  11. dhmorgan

    I was confused in looking at the box score.
    The link was to a previous game.

    Reply
  12. William

    India and Stephenson give me some hope for the Reds in the years to come.

    Reply
  13. JayTheRed

    Love seeing this team have fight and life in it. Moose looks like he is giving full effort on everything he is doing too. I seriously can’t believe the Overton has been our best starter this year. Happy for him though. Really want to see Mahle and Castillo get going too.

    Question Did anyone ever sign Johnny Cueto? Seems like he would be something better than what we have had. Though I am hoping Greene and Lodolo start to figure things out better too. Growing pains I know.

    Reply
  14. MBS

    Stephenson is our best player at a premium position since Barry Larkin. I felt like I needed a disclaimer of a possible overreaction, but double-checking my math I am confident that statement is correct.

    Reply
      • Gonzo Reds

        Yes, Reds do have to have one All-Star representative and with India on the shelf it looks like Tyler is going to be the guy. Of course, the downside is that he’ll likely be the 3rd catcher held out for emergencies and won’t make it into the game.

        Extending him seems like a no brainer but management with no brains in place so likely won’t happen.

      • Melvin

        I would think an all star game would show leniency if a catcher got hurt. Don’t know for sure but seems logical to not go by strict rules in a case like that. Maybe they still do.

    • burtgummer01

      Just off the top of my head Casey and prime votto

      Reply
      • greenmtred

        I thought of them, too, but my guess is that MBS is defining premium position as catcher, shortstop and center field.

      • LDS

        Yeah, a bit of hyperbole. Casey played one more year after Larkin and it was adequate. But Mesoraco had a 4.9 WAR in 2014, Cozart a 5.2 in 2017. And then there’s Junior, who though his best years were in Seattle, still managed a 3.7 after Larkin. And earlier, well… Though Stephenson is hitting well, I’m not sure canonization is appropriate just yet.

      • MBS

        Yep, having a bit of fun, but JR would be an obvious over site. Short of him though? Stephenson is still super young, but how exciting of a player is he?

      • LDS

        Hey, all Reds fans need a laugh from time to time. Everyone else is laughing at us, we might as well join them.

  15. Doc4uk

    The Reds are well positioned to win now at AAAA. But upgrading and being competitive with the Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Yanks, and Houston is another story.

    In the end it will rely on who they bring in to replace the older players. Notice that the Reds have not missed Votto or Senzel who have been out for a while. Perhaps both have Covid or perhaps it is a way of getting both a break to work on things just as Votto needed last year . Still strange that there is no timeline for a return and right now I feel Moran and Almora are better options anyway. After all how many games have we won with the two of them in the line up and vice versa.

    Looking forward to getting Minor , Solano, and Barrera back however.

    Reply
  16. TR

    I sense a bit of an uptick for this team: we’re not as bad as the first month indicated. It’s positive offensively when the Reds score first. And the future looks good with the emphasize on and development of pitching.

    Reply
    • Roger Garrett

      Just need to play younger guys.This year and next must be about 2024 rather then a few more wins.

      Reply
      • Jim Walker

        I agree but also think the “younger guys” might actually win as many or even more games than the older guys.

        One exception I would make is where Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft are involved. They could best the best rotation front 3 since 2012, and perhaps eventually better than that group. I’d get their reps in as long as they are healthy and rested but not push them to their limits just yet.

      • TR

        Agreed. My question is will David Bell play the younger guys?

  17. Jim t

    We are just a game behind Detroit for worst record in Baseball. One step at a time

    Reply
  18. jessecuster44

    Winning is better than losing badly. Team is playing better and might actually be fun to watch. Kudos to all in the dugout.

    Reply
    • Jim Walker

      Not sure why the Reds would look to flip Overton, Yeah, he is almost 29 years old; but he had only 54 days of MLN service time to start this season. He seems to be an ideal guy for the back end of the rotation at a cheap price for another several years. He knows how to pitch and get the most out of his tools and could mentor the younger guys in the process.

      Reply
      • MBS

        He’s not going to get you a good return in trade, and if he continues to do well, that’s one less problem Krall needs to worry about. Keep him.

      • Votto4life

        You are either rebuilding or you’re not. If you are rebuilding you don’t hang on to a 30 year old pitcher who has had a few good starts. A pitcher who the league is likely to catch up with the second time around.

        If they could land say a C+ Or solid C prospect for him they should absolutely trade him. I would be surprised if he would bring back that much than that, but you never know.

        Guys like Overton, Moran, Drury etc. are not going to be around the next time this team in competitive, but if they are dealt timely, they could bring back a player or two who might be .

      • Jim Walker

        Flipping somebody for a C+/C prospect then filling the backend of the rotation with that guy or some guy similar without the same experience chops doesn’t seem the way to go for me.

    • TR

      As we know pitching is the key to a competitive/winning team. Just because a pitcher is approaching or has hit age 30 should not be an automatic signal to flip him. I recall many successful teams with pitchers having great years after age 30. For a good pitching staff, imo, a mixture of young and older is often the key.

      Reply
      • Jim Walker

        +100
        2012 was Bronson Arroyo’s age 35 season,

    • Votto4life

      When you are in the Reds situation you can not fall in love with a player who has a good outing or two.

      I didn’t want this re-build, but now that we are in it, the Reds must make smart decisions. Failure to do that, will lead to another lost decade.

      You can’t hang onto players because you like the way they hustle, or some connection to the team or city, or because you are hosting an all star game, or because a 29 year old pitcher picked off the scrap heap has a few good starts.

      When you accidentally find something that may have some value, you absolutely must cash it in. The Reds can not afford to repeat the mistakes of 2015.

      Reply
      • TR

        As we are all aware, throwing 100+ m.p.h. does not automatically make a pitcher Bob Feller. Those wo are flame throwers often take a number of years to become a ‘pitcher’ in MLB.

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