Even though this 18-game stretch was better for the Reds than the previous one, the same frustrations from April and May are still plaguing this team in August. The offense has carried this team from day one and that seems very unlikely to change over the next 36 games. The only difference between April and now is that we actually felt safe with a lead in April once the bullpen took control in the 5th inning. Now, we pretty much feel safe only if Raisel Iglesias is the one protecting a lead.
The most frustrating part about that paragraph isn’t that it’s happening at all, it’s that we’ve been saying basically the same thing about this team for most of the last two seasons. For every encouraging stride the Reds have made offensively (don’t get me wrong, the performance of the offense has been very encouraging), they have seemingly taken that much of a step back on the pitching side. Injuries to the veterans coupled with poor performances from rookies in the non-Castillo division have left us just as close to finding an answer about the future of the pitching staff as we were before the season started. Even a chance to sort things out in the minors hasn’t gone well for the rookies, as the struggles they had with the Reds have stayed with them in Louisville. Things weren’t always going to go right in this rebuild, but we also didn’t expect so many things to go wrong, either.
The good news is that September is around the corner and it could give some of these young guys another chance at the major league level. The bad news is that September isn’t near enough time to figure out if these guys can be in the future rotation plans or not, leaving the Reds with another off-season to figure out the direction of their pitching staff. Regardless of what happens in the next month, the clock is ticking on this rebuild and the Reds are still left with more questions than answers.
All stats and notes are through Sunday’s games.
2017 Reds: Capsule 7
Season Strength of Schedule: .504 (t-5th hardest in NL; t-8th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .484 (11th in NL; 25th in MLB)[Previous: .482 - 13th NL; 27th MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.0%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.0%)
- .263/.370/.454 slash line for capsule 7, compared with NL average of .260/.328/.439 and .229/.316/.373 for capsule 6.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Cozart, Gennett, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Winker.
- The offense bounced back in this capsule and the record showed. The team was above league average again in pretty much every category after slumping last time around, giving the team a 9-9 record compared to the 4-15 record from the last period. With the pitching being what it has been all season, it’s obvious that the Reds live and die by the performance of the offense.
- Joseph Got Dang Votto. He just continues to be incredible, doesn’t he? .379/.561/.707 for the capsule. 23 walks against only 11 strikeouts (lol). He had 5 dingers, 4 doubles, 15 RBI, and an OPS of 1.268. For the season, he now ranks 1st in OBP (.447), 5th in SLG (.595), 1st in OPS (1.042), and 2nd in OPS+ (169) in all of baseball.
- Eugenio Suarez had himself a fantastic capsule, too. He hit .296/.473/.593 for capsule 7, smacking 4 dingers and walking 17 times with only 10 strikeouts. His OPS of 1.066 was the 2nd highest on the team over the capsule. He has an OBP of .422 for the 2nd half and his 2017 BB% of 13.9% crushes his career average of 8.8%. I’m not sure what has gotten into Suarez this year, but hopefully this is what we can expect of him in the years to come.
- Speaking of guys who have turned it around, Jose Peraza has improved his plate discipline drastically in the 2nd half. Hitting .300/.417/.325 for capsule 7, he finished with more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) for the second capsule in a row. In 336 plate appearances in the first half, he only collected 5 walks. He now has 12 walks in the second half in 106 PA’s with an OBP of .377 over that time frame.
- Tucker Barnhart had his best capsule of the season, hitting .306/.393/.469. Since taking over starting duties for the injured Devin Mesoraco over the last few seasons, he has done nothing but exceed expectations. He continues this in 2017 as he has had his best season of his career, hitting .268/.340/.391 and performing well enough behind the plate to put up 2.1 bWAR so far this season.
- Jesse Winker had a solid capsule for his first extended period of playing time, hitting .289/.385/.378 over the period. While his power concerns are still there (he only had 2 XBH), he continues to show the on-base skills that we saw when he was coming up through the minors as he has posted a .390 OBP for the season.
- Billy Hamilton continues to struggle to get on base. He posted a .265 OBP for the capsule, walking only 6 times while striking out 19 times. I love Billy. He is fun to watch and can create excitement at any given time. He does not need to be hitting at the top of the lineup anymore. If Price is trying to win games as much as he says he is, he has to try something different because trotting out your lowest OBP at the top of the order is not conducive to scoring runs.
- Team ERA of 6.25 for capsule 7, compared to the NL average of 4.50 and 6.33 for capsule 6.
- The pitching continues to be bad. The only difference now is that it seems the bullpen is catching up with the starting pitching in regards to giving up runs.
- Luis Castillo continues to be the Reds’ best starting pitcher, putting up a 3.26 ERA over 22.1 innings of work for capsule 7. While he struggled a little more with command over this capsule (he walked 12 in this period), he still continues to get batters out and limit runs, an area where the rest of the pitching staff struggles.
- Robert Stephenson returned from a short stint on the DL and pitched fairly well, putting up a 1.29 ERA over 7 innings of work. While he still walked 4 batters in those 7 innings, he was able to keep runs off the board, which is an encouraging sign for the rookie.
- Sal Romano put up a 6.00 ERA over 24 innings over this capsule, walking only 5 batters and striking out 14. The 16 earned runs he gave up over those 24 innings obviously wasn’t great, but he did have arguably his best start of his young career last Friday in Atlanta where he gave up only 1 run over 7 innings of work.
- Homer Bailey continues to struggle with his command this season. He walked 14 batters in 14 innings of work. To make matters worse, in his most recent start (which didn’t factor into this capsule), he exited after three innings due to an injury.
- Raisel Iglesias continues to be a hammer out of the bullpen, giving up only 2 runs in 8.2 innings of work while walking only 3 and striking out 17. Wandy Peralta was also solid out of the ‘pen, also giving up only 2 runs in 8.2 innings.
- There wasn’t much else positive to say about the rest of the bullpen. Michael Lorenzen gave up 6 runs on 14 hits over 9 innings, Blake Wood gave up 9 earned runs in 7 innings, and Drew Storen gave up 11 earned runs in 7 innings.
- The Reds Defensive Efficiency Rating sits at .688, which is good for 5th best in the National League and 11th in MLB.
The next 19:
- Another 19 gamer next time around, since the pre-All-Star break schedule got all wonky from rain-outs.
- 12 games at home, 7 on the road.
- 12 of the next 19 against NL Central opponents.
- None of the next 18 are against American League teams.
- 3 of the next 19 against projected playoff teams.
- .496 combined winning % for teams in the next 19.
- Although only 3 of the next 19 are against projected playoff teams, it still won’t be an easy capsule. 12 of those 19 games are against the Cubs, Brewers, and Pirates, who are all fighting for a spot in the post-season.