Welcome back to 18 Games at a Time! This is where I get to break down the Reds season into 9 different 18-game capsules and talk about all the awesome things they did over the last 18 games. I know you all are just excited to read about the last 18 games as I was to recap it, so let’s get down to it.
Jesus Christ, that was bad. There is really no other way to put it. The losing, while frustrating, is understandable. We expected the Reds to start turning a corner in 2018, but we never truly expected them to compete for a playoff spot. They just aren’t there yet. But the last 3 weeks have been something completely different. It was completely uninspiring. So uninspiring, in fact, that we are 18 games into the season and “Jim Riggleman: Interim Manager” is already a thing.
The pitching was always going to take its lumps early. They were injured and young (sound familiar?) so bad things were bound to happen at some point. But, the offense is what has been so bad about the start of the season. For a unit that always had the potential to win games in 2017, it has started out as one of the worst in baseball in 2018. The Reds rank 29th out of 30 in SLG, OPS, OPS+, and runs per game. They are in the bottom 10 in all the other major offensive categories and are tied for the 3rd-fewest home runs in all of baseball while playing in the most dinger-friendly park. So, if you ever want to know how we ended up at 3-15, there’s your answer.
Normally, this is where I start to get optimistic and talk about how things are actually looking up. I’ll talk about how the rebuild is turning the corner because this player is coming back or that player is getting hot. But this isn’t the place for that. It might be the next capsule, or the one after that, but not this one. The Reds are in the middle of their worst start since 1931, they just fired their manager, and the only reason things are going to get better this season is because they can’t get any worse.
All stats and notes are through Wednesday’s games.
2018 Reds: Capsule 1
Season Strength of Schedule: .497 (9th hardest in NL; 17th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .415 (15th in NL; t-28th in MLB)
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.3%
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.5%
- .219/.299/.319 slash line for capsule 1, compared to the NL average of .236/.315/.383.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Gennett, Peraza, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Winker.
- As I mentioned above, the offense was absolutely lifeless in the first capsule. They were below league average in every single offensive category and ranked near the bottom in a lot of them. For as good as the offense was in 2017, and for as good as we expected them to be coming into 2018, they fell flat on their faces in the first 18.
- Tucker Barnhart, however, had himself a solid start to 2018. He hit .277/.393/.489 over the capsule, hitting 2 dingers, walking 9 times and striking out 11 times. He has certainly done well at the start of his first official season as the starting catcher.
- Joey Votto was not his normal self to start off 2018. He hit .258/.317/.273 for the capsule, walking only 5 times, striking out 10 times, and tallying only 1 extra-base hit. To put it in perspective, he didn’t have a single capsule in 2017 where he had more strikeouts than walks. He had a few hard hit balls in the most recent series with Milwaukee, so hopefully that is the start of a turnaround.
- Jesse Winker had a .407 OBP over the capsule, mostly due to his 11 walks. He unfortunately only had one extra-base hit, which makes you wonder how long he was dealing with that sore shoulder before missing some time.
- Adam Duvall struggled mightily in the first capsule. He had only 11 hits, going .125/.221/.381 with 4 walks and 19 strikeouts. At least he did make it count when he did hit the ball. 7 of his 11 hits were XBH’s including 3 home runs, which led the team for the capsule.
- If you had told me that Billy Hamilton would have more home runs and walks than Joey Votto at this point in the season, I’d have called you a moron. Yet here we are. Billy had 9 walks against 21 strikeouts and hit himself a dinger. His line for capsule 1 was .172/.284/.241 It’s getting increasingly frustrating to watch him at the plate, but even more when he takes hacks from the lead-off spot.
- Jose Peraza hit .234/.246/.313 in the first capsule, walking only once and striking out 11 times. Even more amazing, he hit .063/.063/.063 against lefties in the first capsule. Granted, it’s a small sample size (17 PA’s) but, whew, that is bad.
- This team really, really misses Eugenio Suarez.
- Team ERA of 5.42 for capsule 1, compared to the NL average of 3.88.
- The pitching wasn’t exactly great this capsule, but there were multiple games where they performed well enough to give the Reds a chance to win, only to be let down by the offense. While that team ERA of 5.42 isn’t good by any means, there were at lest some positive things to take from this capsule on the pitching side of things.
- Welcome back, Homer Bailey. Starting off his first healthy season in forever, Homer gave us a flash of what he used to do before his rash of surgeries. In his first four starts of 2018, Homer pitched 23.2 innings, put up a 3.42 ERA with 8 walks and 16 strikeouts. He also kept the ball in the yard, serving up only 2 dingers in those 23 innings. While is strikeout rate is lower than his career average (6.1 K/9 in 2018 compared to 7.4 for his career), he is still locating pitches well and getting batters out. Keep it up, Homer.
- Luis Castillo did not have the start to 2018 that we all hoped for, as his 6.75 ERA over 22.2 innings pitched is definitely not ideal. He did, however, show some very positive signs in his last two starts that show he as been turning the corner. First, in his start against the Phillies on April 11, he retired 13 of his final 14 batters (the one, unfortunately, being a solo home run). Then, on April 16, he threw 6 fantastic shutout innings where he struck out 8 and walked one before things kind of fell apart in the 7th.
- You can pretty much write the same about Sal Romano. He pitched well in his first start, got knocked around in his next 2, then settled down in his 4th start. In all, he put up a 5.75 ERA in 20.1 IP. Most troubling about his start to 2018 is the fact that he has walked 11 batters against 11 strikeouts in those 20.1 innings, good for a 4.9 BB/9 to start the year.
- Tyler Mahle was pretty similar to Romano, putting up a 5.14 ERA over 21 innings. His 2.86 K/BB was second-best among the starting pitchers, but he had trouble keeping the ball in the yard. His 5 home runs allowed was the worst among all pitchers for the capsule. He also ran into some terrible run support, as the offense scored exactly one (1) run in the 21 innings that Mahle pitched this capsule (they scored 3 in his start on April 13, but he had already left the game at that point.)
- Brandon Finnegan’s return to the mound did not go well. 2 dingers, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 5 earned runs in 4.1 innings of work.
- The Reds had a few good performances in the bullpen to start the season. First of all, Amir freaking Garrett. He pitched in 7 games, totaling 9.1 innings, giving up only 7 hits, no runs, 1 walk, while striking out 11. It’s been an absolute joy to watch him so far this year, and something I hope we get to see out of the rotation at some point.
- Wandy Peralta has also started well in 2018, throwing 8.2 shutout innings while giving up only 2 hits and striking out 9. I do, however, believe that the fact that he has walked 10 batters already will probably catch up with him. Just a hunch.
- Lastly, Raisel Iglesias has done his normal thing in 2018. In 7.1 innings, he struck out 11 batters and walked only 3 while giving up 1 run on 2 hits. It’d be nice if we were able to see him more often.
- One last note on the bullpen:
Reds bullpen ERA is 5.17.— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) April 19, 2018
Reds bullpen ERA minus Gallardo, Rainey, and Weiss is 2.62.
That threesome pitched a total of 4.1 innings.
- Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER) is the percentage of balls in play that are converted into outs. The Reds had a DER of .705 in capsule 1, which is 5th best in the National League. The NL average DER in 2018 is .696. They have also made 11 errors so far in 2018, which is right at the league average for the number of errors made so far this season.
The next 18:
- 12 games at home, 6 on the road.
- 6 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- 3 of the next 18 are against American League teams, all of which use the DH.
- 3 of the next 18 against 2017 playoff teams.
- .563 combined winning % for teams in the next 18.
- The next 18 are going to be tough. Every team the Reds face in the next capsule has a winning record except for the lowly Marlins. Normally, we might say: “Hey, at least the Reds get to play the Marlins!” but unfortunately it’s 2018 and the Marlins fan is the one saying that about the Reds.