Just a few weeks ago I wrote here that the Reds were poised to make a second-half surge after the All-Star break. Homer Bailey was healthy and showing signs of improvement. Luis Castillo got the call-up and was holding his own in his first stint as a major league pitcher, overpowering hitters with his fastball and posting 7 or 8 strikeouts a game. Best of all, they had faced their toughest portion of the schedule at the time and came through it over .500. Reinforcements had finally come and the Reds rebuild was going to start to turn around.
Except once the All-Star break passed and the Reds started playing again, the exact opposite happened. They lost 14 of their first 16 games of the second half and looked pretty dreadful in the process. Outside of Castillo and a couple other random outings, the pitching, after a decent (by 2017 standards) stretch leading up to the break, went back to what they had been all year: Bad. The only difference was that this time the offense came down with them. The Reds’ offense put up multiple 1 and 2-run performances and were nearly 20 runs below the league average for this capsule, a category that they had spent above the NL average in every other capsule.
The thing is, since their solid start in April and May, the Reds have not been a very good baseball team. The bullpen regressed back to the mean, as they were always going to do, after going nuts in the early part of the season. The offense kept up their performance but they were never going to be able to keep up with the starting pitching’s ineptitude. Stretches like this will happen in a rebuild and the fact that you can expect them doesn’t make them any less fun.
The good news is that there are still plenty of reasons to watch this team. Other than the usual mashing of baseballs by Joey Votto and the nightly Billy Hamilton highlights, there are parts about the future to get excited about. Jesse Winker is already making his mark on games in his first real chance at extended playing time. Luis Castillo continues to impress and Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano, albeit slowly, are showing signs of improvement. The next stretch of games is a little easier than the last. Hopefully the Reds play better this time around.
All Stats and notes are through Wednesday’s games.
2017 Reds: Capsule 6
**Note: There are 19 games in this capsule due to rainouts in the first half. We’ll have another one of these 19-gamers later this season.
Season Strength of Schedule: .505 (4th hardest in NL; 5th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .482 (13th in NL; 27th in MLB)[Previous: .485 - 11th NL; 25th MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.6%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.8%)
- .229/.316/.373 slash line for capsule 6, compared with NL average of .260/.328/.439 and .259/.325/.462 for capsule 5.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Peraza, Gennett, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler.
- This was by far the worst offensive capsule of the season. Slumps from Joey Votto, Scott Schebler, and Adam Duvall really took a toll on the offense and, as you can tell by the record, the team’s performance. This was the first capsule where the offense performed worse than league average in pretty much every category.
- As always, let’s start with Joey Votto. This was not a normal Joey Votto capsule, as he came out of the break scuffling quite a bit. After rebounding a little at the end of the period, he finished with a line of .254/.427/.317. For the 6th capsule in a row, he finished with more walks (16) than strikeouts (12). Although he didn’t do it this time around, he has finished with more extra-base hits than strikeouts in 3 of the 6 capsules this season.
- Jose Peraza hit pretty well coming out of the All-Star break, hitting with a slash of .283/.345/.302. The thing that sticks out the most is that, besides Votto and the injured Zack Cozart, Peraza was the only other player on the Reds with more walks (5) than strikeouts (4). Those 5 walks over the last 19 games matched his walk total from the first half, too.
- Speaking of speedsters who typically have trouble at the plate, Billy Hamilton also had himself a solid capsule. He went .307/.338/.440 over the last 19, collecting 22 hits and 6 XBH. His 23 hits were the most he’s had over one of these capsules while his 6 XBH were the most since capsule 2, where he also had 6.
- Eugenio Suarez also used the All-Star Break to bounce back this capsule. He hit .290/.375/.565 with 5 dingers, which was his highest total since capsule 1. He also walked 10 times this capsule, although he struck out 21 times. He has been more selective at the plate overall in 2017, as his season total of 53 walks has already surpassed his 2016 total of 51. His walk rate also sits at 12.3% for 2017, which is much higher than the 8.2% he has put up for his career.
- Scooter Gennett hasn’t slowed down after getting named the starter at second base. He hit .279/.319/.441 for capsule 6, smacking 3 dingers and driving in 13. He only walked 3 times against 19 strikeouts, which could definitely get better. He is also still clueless against left-handed pitching. He has a season line of .197/.234/.311 against lefties and only 1 of his 18 home runs have come against left-handed pitchers this season.
- Tucker Barnhart had 6 walks against 9 strikeouts.
- Scott Schebler injured his left shoulder back in early June and had managed it all season with rest and rehab. It apparently became too much of a problem and was obviously effecting his performance, as he hit .077/.172/.154 over 17 games before finally hitting the disabled list, where he will miss 2-3 weeks.
- Before hitting the disabled list, Zack Cozart was having yet another great capsule. In his 10 games, he hit .323/.462/.742 with 8 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 3 bombs. While the quad has been an issue for a few weeks, it certainly didn’t show with his performance. I also was expecting this to be the last note I’d be making on Cozart in one of these posts but due to injuries and a less-than-favorable market for shortstops among contenders, it looks like I’ll be writing about him a little more in the near future.
- Team ERA of 6.33 for capsule 6, compared to the NL average of 4.31 and 4.97 for capsule 5.
- The pitching went back to being very bad, as one can expect when the team only wins 5 out of 19.
- Luis Castillo was our best starter of the capsule. In 25 innings, he put up a 3.96 ERA with a 7.6 K/9. His best start of the season came against his former organization in his most recent start, where he gave up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings of work.
- Homer Bailey was on sort of a good-start, bad-start rotation for this capsule. He gave up 8 against the Nationals, then followed it up by giving up 2 to Miami. Then he got lit up for 7 against the Yankees, then gave up 1 against Pittsburgh. All-in-all, he had a 6.55 ERA over 22 innings. He still isn’t striking out a ton, as he only struck out 4.5 batters per 9 innings for the capsule. Honestly, I’m just looking for him to make it through the rest of the season healthy. Obviously, you want to see him improve as the season goes but if he can get through September without any issues (especially with the way this season has gone for Reds starting pitchers) then it will be a win in my book.
- Robert Stephenson put up a 5.28 ERA over 15.1 innings in this capsule. He did have a solid start against Pittsburgh, where he gave up only 1 run in 5.2 innings. He also only walked 4 batters combined in 2 of his starts, which is an improvement. Especially if you look over the 7 he walked in his 2nd start.
- Sal Romano, while having the second best ERA among starters over the capsule at 4.73, also had by far the worst BB/9 among starters at 8.2.
- Outside of Blake Wood and Raisel Iglesias, the bullpen wasn’t very good for capsule 6. Blake Wood pitched 8.2 innings and put up a 2.08 ERA. He also only walked 2 batters while striking out 11. Iglesias gave up 3 runs, walked 4, and struck out 10 in his 10 innings of work in this capsule. All 3 runs came off a Marcel Ozuna dinger back on July 30.
- The team’s Defensive Efficiency Rating sits at .695 for the season, which is good for 4th best in the National League and 7th best in MLB. Even though the team’s defense has slipped slightly, they are still one of the best defensive teams in all of baseball.
The next 18:
- 7 games at home, 11 on the road.
- 11 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- None of the next 18 are against American League teams.
- 4 of the next 18 against projected playoff teams.
- .489 combined winning % for teams in the next 18.
- This next stretch is a little easier. Only the Cubs and Brewers have a winning record and the Reds get to face fellow rebuilders San Diego and Atlanta.