The record will show you that the Cincinnati Reds won only 7 of their last 18 games. It will also show you that in the 18 games prior they won 10, and that they won 12 in the 18 before that. It will show you a team that is last in their division and 14.5 games out of the wild card; not mathematically eliminated from post-season contention, but they might as well be.
The record will also show you a team that is still playing it’s best baseball of the season. It will show you a team that has gone 29-25 since the All-Star break and has seen multiple players have the best performances of the season. While both paragraphs are equally true, for some reason the first one seems to be the one representing the team at the moment instead of the second.
The Dog Days of Summer, representing the lethargy of the brutal late-summer months, technically came and went just over a month ago. Long-gone is the excitement of the All-Star game and Home Run Derby. You can say the same about the constant rumor mill updates about the eventual fate of our former right fielder. An oblique injury took out our high-flying, base stealing center fielder and the September call-ups came with a big bag of meh topped off with a Robert Stephenson. When it comes to the Dog Days of Baseball, we are right in the middle of it.
Now, all we’re stuck with is "meaningless" baseball. The trades and call-ups have mostly come and gone. We’ve been deprived of Billy Hamilton’s impossible highlights and our favorite right fielder is in New York. It’s easy to look around and say that there isn’t much left to get excited about this season. But we still get to watch the development of Jose Peraza, we still get to see Scott Schebler angrily hit baseballs out of the ballpark, and then there’s that Joey Votto guy, who still is the hottest hitter in baseball right now. The Dog Days of Baseball might be upon us, but they will be over soon. And I don’t think I’m ready for it.
Here are the stats and notes through Monday’s games.
2016 Reds: Capsule 8
Season Strength of Schedule: .500 (hardest in NL; 15th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI: .482 (T-10th NL; T-24th MLB) [Previous: .485 T-10th in NL, T-22nd MLB (4-way)]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: Eliminated
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0%
- .278/.341/.403 for capsule 8, compared to NL average of .248/.316/.403 and .275/.339/.411 for capsule 7.
- The regulars as defined by plate appearances: Cabrera, Votto, Phillips, Peraza, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler.
- Offensively, this was a pretty weird capsule. The offense accumulated 171 hits, which was the most of any capsule, and had the 2nd highest OBP with .341, but only scored 71 runs. Part of that is due to our insane avg with RISP coming back down to earth, but we also didn’t hit for much power this capsule. We hit the fewest home runs in this capsule and only had 49 XBH. XBH’s only accounted for 29% of our hits, which is the lowest % of any capsule. So in other words, even though we were hitting a lot, we were basically just scattering around a bunch of singles.
- The young duo of Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler both had stellar performances this capsule. Peraza added to his great 2nd half by going .345/.365/.431 He also walked 3 times, which is good because that was 3 more times than he had walked all season. Schebler finished this capsule hitting .361/.433/.541 while smacking 3 dingers and driving in 13. He also walked as many times as he struck out, with 7 each. It’s been great to see what both of these guys have been able to do with their extended playing time.
- Joey Votto had his worst stretch of the second half, meaning that he still hit a very Votto-like .333/.419/.524 with 3 doubles, 3 dingers, 10 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He’s up to .315/.432/.523 on the season now, which seems crazy high for those of us who were paying attention in April and May. That just goes to show just how absurd his 2nd half has been.
- Brandon Phillips, who once again walked 0 times while striking out 7 times, is still swinging at pitches at a career-high rate. While his O-Swing% isn’t quite as high as the 47% it was earlier this season, he is still swinging at almost 45% of the pitches outside the zone. He has been able to do something with the contact that he is making, hitting for a much-improved .346 average in the second half and moving his season line up to .291/.324/.414.
- You have to wonder if the full-season after the ACL surgery has begun to take a toll on Zack Cozart. He’s battled patellar tendon pain and Achilles tendon pain at different points this season, and his numbers seem to have been affected by these issues. He hit .160/.263/.280 for this capsule, dropping his overall line in the 2nd half to a pedestrian .223/.291/.312. His power has also dropped significantly since the break, with his SLG% dipping from .482 in the first half to .312 in the 2nd. With the performance of Jose Peraza, I’d imagine the Reds are going to be overly cautious with Cozart for the last few weeks of the season.
- Eugenio Suarez just continues to turn things around in the 2nd half of the season. He finished this capsule hitting .274/.357/.387, bumping his season total up to .253/.320/.425. He still struck out 19 times, which is a lot, but that is kind of what we have come to expect with the third baseman. However, with his recent performance, plus that of Jose Peraza, the immediate future of the Reds infield looks a little brighter than it did a few months ago.
- 3.97 team ERA, compared to NL average of 3.84 and 4.41 for Capsule 7.
- Anthony DeSclafani continued to put up ace-like numbers, posting a 1.64 ERA over 3 starts and 22 innings with 19 strikeouts and only 3 walks. That includes a complete-game shutout against Arizona back on August 27 where he walked 1 batter and struck out 9 in his best performance of the season.
- Brandon Finnegan also had another solid capsule, posting a 2.35 ERA over 4 starts and 23 innings. His strikeout totals have increased as he struck out 35 while walking 11. While he continues to improve his strikeout rate, his walk total still brings some concern. He is currently sitting on 81 walks, which is the most in the National League.
- Robert Stephenson was solid in his first action back with the big-league club. In his first start back, he lasted 5.1 innings but struck out 9 and only walked 1, easing the minds of some fans for a moment about his concerning walk-rate in Triple-A this season. While his second start didn’t go as well, he still showed the potential that has had Reds fans excited about him for the last few years.
- Dan Straily, the surprise of 2016, had an unusually rough capsule, giving up 11 runs in only 13 innings while walking 11 and only striking out 14 over 3 starts. He was also hurt by the long ball this period. He gave up 5 in those 13 innings, which is the most in any 18-game capsule this season.
- Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, surprise surprise, continued to be our best pitchers out of the ‘pen this capsule. Lorenzen was especially great, giving up only 3 runs over 11 innings with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Iglesias struggled a little more than normal, but was solid overall. He gave up 3 runs in 9 innings with 4 walks and 6 strikeouts. They still are using him some in longer-relief situations, hopefully to make sure his arm stays stretched out so he can become the ace of our starting rotation. That’s not wishful thinking at all, is it?
- Keyvius Sampson made a few appearances and even had a spot start on Monday night, where he lasted 4.2 innings and didn’t give up any runs. With the way he has gone back and forth to Louisville, it has been nice seeing him pitch like this in September.
- Speaking of Sampson, he should make a few more starts as the season comes to a close. With the innings limit of Brandon Finnegan coming up and the possibility of Homer Bailey being shut down the rest of the season, he has shown recently that he is capable of effectively making a few more regular starts.
- Our Defensive Efficiency Rating, or the % of balls in play converted into outs, sits at .694 for the season. That is good for 5th best in the NL and 7th best in MLB. We also only made 10 errors this capsule, which brings our season total up to 91 and 27 for the 2nd half.
The next 19:
- You read that right. Since there is a make-up game with Pittsburgh from a rain-out way back in May, we will get 19 games instead of 18 in the final capsule.
- 9 games at home; 10 games on the road.
- All 19 games will be against NL Central opponents.
- 15 of the 19 against 2015 playoff teams
- .539 winning % for teams in the next capsule
- Note for optimism: It depends on how much you want to see this season end, I guess. If you’re tired of watching this team play, then lucky for you there are only 19 games left. If you’re sad to see another season of Reds baseball end, then let’s cherish these last few weeks. It will be a tough stretch of games, as we play some tough teams, but we can at least try to root on our team as they try to spoil the Cardinals chances at the Wild Card in the last week of the season.
- To see previous installments of this feature, click here.