I spent the better part of two days writing this article and had no clue how to introduce this capsule. Typically I’ve been able to find some kind of theme that went with this team over the previous 18 games. Usually, it’s bad pitching, but there have also been some good things mixed in. Like that brief stretch early last season when all the rookie pitchers were throwing well and the bullpen was lights out. Or pretty much all of 2017 when you knew that no matter what happened, the offense was going to give the team a chance every night. This year? The Reds are just boring.
The offense, outside of Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, seems to be missing a step. Joey Votto, while getting on base like he normally does, still hasn’t found his power. The offensive output from the outfield has been downright awful and the team’s defense as a whole is much worse than in previous years. At least the Reds were fun when they lost a bunch of games in 2017. The Reds are still losing games in 2018 with the same cast of players and doing it in the least-interesting way possible.
There isn’t anything else to say about this team at this point. The story has been the same for 3 seasons now. The unfortunate thing about this year’s version is there isn’t anything interesting about it.
All stats and notes are through Sunday’s games
2018 Reds - Capsule 3
Season Strength of Schedule: .512 (5th hardest in NL; 9th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .472 (14th in NL; 25th in MLB)[Previous: .441 - 15th NL; 26th MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous: 0.0%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.1% (Previous: 0.1%)
- .238/.307/.384 slash line for capsule 3, compared to the NL average of .246/.314/.404 and .262/.346/.421 for capsule 2.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Peraza, Gennett, Suarez, Hamilton, Schebler, Winker.
- Overall, it was a pretty “MEH” performance by the offense. There were some definite standouts and solid performances, but as a whole the team wasn’t inspiring at the plate.
- Scooter Gennett just spent the last 18 games absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. For the capsule, he slashed .446/.464/.785. He led the team in home runs (6), RBI (19), and OPS (1.248). The only negative thing out of this performance is the fact that he only drew 2 walks while striking out 17 times.
- Joey Votto slashed .305/.414/.424 for capsule 3. While he is getting on base at his usual clip, the lack of power is a little concerning. He only had 5 extra-base hits including only 1 home run. Looking at his contact numbers, according to fangraphs, his hard-hit % (37.7%) and medium-hit % (54.3%) are slightly above his career averages (36.9% and 51.9%, respectively) and his soft-hit % is also down (7.9% 2018, 11.2% career). The biggest difference is that his HR/FB% is way down from his career numbers. For his career, Votto hits a home run in 19% of his fly balls. In 2018, that number is 13.6%. The only other season in which Votto has had a HR/FB% lower than his 2018 mark is in 2014 (10.7%), when he missed most of the year with a quad injury. Now I’m not suggesting Votto is injured, because that is certainly not the case, but it’s something interesting to watch as we go throughout the season.
- Tucker Barnhart had a very Tucker Barnhart capsule. He hit .269/.296/.404 while hitting 1 home run, 4 doubles, walking twice and striking out 11 times. He also got himself moved to second in the order a few times over the last couple weeks.
- Outside of those three, the offense struggled and struggled hard. Let’s start with Jose Peraza. He hit .176/.253/.191 for the capsule. Of the 12 hits he collected in the last 18 games, only 1 went for extra bases. He did walk 6 times, which is more than he had in any capsule last season.
- I am just going to combine the outfield performances here so I don’t have to make 4 bullet points in a row talking about how bad everyone was. Billy Hamilton: .196/.237/.286. Adam Duvall: .196/.315/.457. Scott Schebler: .200/.290/.327. Jesse Winker: .196/.293/.294. I think you get the picture there. I don’t really need to dive into any other numbers to show how bad they were this capsule.
- I lied. I’ll make a quick note of one here. Remember how Billy Hamilton was walking more this season? He walked only 3 times and struck out 21 times this capsule.
- Let’s talk about a bench player. I’m just gonna draw one draw one at random here. /digs through hat full of paper. Oh, look! Alex Blandino! In 33 PA’s, mostly off the bench, Blandino hit .333/.419/.407. I know we wanted him to play over Scooter Gennett for most of the first part of this season, but it’s about time he has started taking some time for Jose Peraza. He has shown that he can play defense as well as Peraza, and he has hit much better than Peraza in an admittedly small sample. Alex Blandino might not be the shortstop of the future, but we’ll never find out if they don’t give him a chance.
- Team ERA of 4.39 for capsule 3, compared to the NL average of 3.92 and 4.90 for capsule 2.
- The starting pitching, as it has for most of the season, struggled. The bullpen is what kept this team in games for most of the capsule, compiling a combined ERA of 2.77 over 74.2 innings.
- Luis Castillo looks to have begun turning things around. In 3 starts that spanned 17 innings, he allowed only 5 earned runs, good for a 2.65 ERA for the capsule. His walk rate of 2.78 still needs some improvement, but he is starting to strike out more batters and show flashes of why we have been so excited about him over the last year.
- Matt Harvey pitched better in his 4 starts with the Reds than he did at all in New York this season. Although he got roughed up a little by the Rockies, he has still pitched well in his short stint in Cincinnati. In all for capsule 3, he pitched 19.1 innings and compiled a 3.72 ERA. He has limited his walks and home runs so far which has been huge for his success.
- After Harvey, there isn’t much to write home about with regards to the starting pitching. It was pretty bad. Tyler Mahle, who had been the Reds’ most consistent starter through the first 36 games, really struggled in this capsule. In 4 starts spanning 19.1 innings, he allowed 12 earned runs and walked (11) almost as many batters as he struck out (14). He also gave up 4 home runs this capsule, and is tied for the lead in the NL with 13 home runs allowed.
- Homer Bailey and Sal Romano were both really bad this capsule. Homer threw 14.2 innings and allowed 13 runs while walking 10 and striking out 10. He is also one of the guys tied with Mahle for the NL lead in home runs. Romano made 4 starts in this capsule and, after allowing only 1 run against the Mets in his first start of this capsule, he allowed 18 runs in his last 3 starts.
- As I said earlier, the Reds’ bullpen was lights out. Jared Hughes didn’t allow a single run in 9.1 innings of work. Wandy Peralta only allowed one earned run. Michael Lorenzen made his return from the DL to throw 3.2 shutout innings and Amir Garrett was his normal self, allowing 3 runs in 11 innings while walking 5 and striking out 14. It has certainly been a nice thing to watch and not get nervous that a lead is going to disappear in the latter innings of games this season.
- A team’s Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER) is the percentage of balls in play that they’re able to convert into outs. The Reds’ DER is currently .684, which is good for 12th in the National League. The NL average DER is currently .696.
The Next 18:
- 7 games at home, 11 on the road.
- 6 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- 3 of the next 18 are against American League teams, 2 of which use the DH.
- 6 of the next 18 against 2017 playoff teams.
- .473 combined winning % for teams in the next 18.
- The schedule gets a little easier for this next capsule. The Reds start off with the slumping Diamondbacks and, for the first time all season, they will play a team with a worse record than them when they go to Kansas City to play the Royals. They will also look to get their first win over the Cardinals.