Help couldn’t have come at a better time for the Reds. Facing by far the toughest stretch of the season with a pitching staff that was struggling, to say the least, two new additions to the starting rotation seemed to have made all the difference. That’s not to say that it was easy. Homer Bailey got destroyed in his first two outings. Luis Castillo had his struggles, too. But in the end, the Reds finished out the first half going 3-1-1 in series against two division leaders, the reigning World Series champion, and two teams that would be in first by a long-shot in the NL Central.
It has been said all year that this can actually be a solid team when they get more consistency out of the starting rotation, and we are finally starting to see that come to fruition. While the 4.97 ERA over the last 3 weeks from the rotation isn’t much to write home about, it is getting much closer to respectable than what we were seeing over the first couple of months of the season.
The best part about all of this is that there is still room for this team to grow. The offense continues to win games, but improvements from guys like Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza can turn a good offense into a dangerous offense. And even with the addition of Bailey and Castillo, the starting pitching should show some serious growth in the next couple of months. Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson are all working out kinks in Louisville and are all showing signs that their return to the minors is yielding positive results. Not to mention that Sal Romano and Jackson Stephens were fantastic in their recent appearances in the rotation and could provide meaningful innings to start the 2nd half. Lastly, the actual ace of the rotation in Anthony DeSclafani, is progressing well and is poised to make his return in August if all goes well.
Although the competition doesn’t get any easier the rest of the way, I’m excited to see what this team will accomplish. It may not show in the record, considering that the second half schedule is going to be tougher than the first, but we are finally going to see what this team is capable of doing.
All stats and notes are through Sunday’s games.
2017 Reds: Capsule 5
**Note: Due to rainouts and the schedule leading up to the All-Star Break, there are only 17 games in this capsule. They will be made up with a couple of 19 game capsules in the second half.
Season Strength of Schedule: .500 (6th hardest in NL; 18th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .485 (11th in NL; 25th in MLB)[Previous: .470 - 12th NL; 27th MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.6% (Previous 0.5%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.8% (Previous 0.7%)
- .259/.325/.462 slash line for capsule 5, compared with NL average of .252/.324/.419 and .255/.325/.462 for capsule 4.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Peraza, Gennett, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler.
- Once again this was a solid performance by the offense. This was the 4th out of 5 capsules where the offense was better than league average in pretty much every category.
- Typically I reserve the first individual bullet point for the guy who had the best offensive performance for the capsule. This might as well be the Joey Votto spot for 2017 because he continues to go absolutely nuts at the plate. He had a slash line of .357/.465/.768 for capsule 5, which is probably his best capsule this season. He had 6 dingers, 15 RBI, 13 walks, and 7 strikeouts. He has yet to go a capsule where he has had more strikeouts than walks and he now leads the NL with 26 home runs, which is 3 fewer than he hit in all of 2016.
- Billy Hamilton’s .329 OBP for capsule 5 was his highest OBP for a capsule in 2017. When I first started looking at these numbers on Sunday, before the game had concluded, I was excited because he had an OBP around .360 for the period. Unfortunately he went 0-5 with 3 strikeouts on Sunday, which really made things look worse.
- Scooter Gennett keeps on mashing the ball when he gets his opportunities. He went .389/.459/.778 for capsule 5 and had the highest OPS on the team at 1.237 (Votto was a very close 2nd at 1.233). He hit 6 dingers with 10 RBI and had 9 total XBH. Well done, Scooter.
- This is the 2nd capsule in a row where Jose Peraza did not record a walk. His last walk was recorded back on May 21.
- Eugenio Suarez really struggled this capsule, hitting .160/.306/.240. He has really cooled off since his hot start to the season. On the bright side, he did walk 10 times over this period and his season OBP of .354 is much higher than his career high of .317.
- Adam Duvall showed off his power for this capsule, smacking 14 XBH’s over the last 17 games. He joins Scott Schebler and Votto as the 3rd member of the Reds to have over 20 home runs in the first half.
- Team ERA of 4.97 for capsule 4, compared to the NL average of 4.07 and 5.90 for capsule 4.
- This was a much better performance from the rotation compared to the last couple of capsules. The starters’ ERA for capsule 5 was 5.05, compared to an ERA of 6.87 for capsule 4.
- How about the debut for Luis Castillo? In his first 23 innings of Major League action, he went out and met expectations. He put up a 3.13 ERA, walked 10, and struck out 30. 8 of his 10 walks came in his first 2 starts and he has struck out at least 8 batters in each of his last 3 outings. He finished his first capsule with a strikeout rate of 11.7 strikeouts per 9 innings. Well done, Mr. Castillo.
- Scott Feldman also had himself a solid capsule, putting up a 2.84 ERA over 19 innings, including 7 shutout innings against the Cubs back on June 30. He walked only 5 while striking out 18. With a 3.94 ERA in 101 innings in 2017, the Reds’ opening day starter has done pretty much what has been expected of him over the course of the season.
- After a rough couple of starts in his return to the mound, Homer Bailey really settled in. His 8.31 overall ERA isn’t great, but the fact that he gave up only 2 earned runs in his last 2 starts is very encouraging. After only making 8 combined starts over the last 2 seasons, he still has some rust to work off, but it sure is nice to see him back on the mound and getting back to his old form.
- Tim Adleman had his worst capsule of the season so far. He got roughed up to the tune of a 6.60 ERA over 15 innings. He was still striking out plenty of batters, with a 9 K/9 over the capsule, but struggled to keep the ball in the yard, as he gave up 6 dingers in only 15 innings.
- Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen were once again the anchors of the bullpen, each giving up only 2 earned runs over the capsule. Iglesias was at his best once again, walking none and striking out 10.
- Ariel Hernandez also continues to impress out of the bullpen, posting a ridiculous 12.4 K/9 for the capsule. He did struggle a little with command this time around, walking 6 batters in his 7 innings of work.
- The Reds’ Defensive Efficiency Rating for 2017 sits at .697, which is down from the .704 they sat at after capsule 4. This is good for 3rd best in the NL and 5th best in MLB.
The next 19:
- Due to the make-up game with Cleveland on July 24, there will be 19 games for this capsule. It will be the first of two 19-game capsules in the second half since rain-outs got the schedule all messed up in the first half.
- 10 games at home, 9 on the road.
- 2 of the next 19 against NL Central opponents.
- 3 of the next 19 are against American League teams, all of which involve the DH.
- 5 of the next 19 against 2016 playoff teams.
- .532 combined winning % for teams in the next 17.
- Things don’t get much easier coming out of the All-Star break. The Reds get another go-around with the Nationals and Diamondbacks along with a trip to Yankees Stadium to take on the high-powered Yankees’ offense.