The majority of this article is being written in the O’Hare airport. I am on the way back from a week-long trip to Chicago that just so happened (read: Was planned by my father to coincide with the Reds/Cubs series. My brother and parents are Cubs fans.) The trip itself was a blast. I’m lucky enough to have a good relationship with my family and, being the only one who has moved away, it’s always great to spend time with them. However, there was a short period in that trip where I was incredibly frustrated.
I was sitting in my shaded seats down the right field line at Wrigley Field on a beautiful Saturday afternoon watching the Reds hand the Cubs their second loss of the weekend and their 6th straight to the Reds. Then, the 8th inning happened, and all of a sudden the Reds had squandered a 5-run lead and the Cubs had tied the series. I was, for lack of a better word, pissed. I was pissed that I had to endure 40,000 screaming Cubs fans enjoy the excitement that I was expecting to enjoy. I was pissed that the Reds completely melted down after a 5-run lead. I was pissed that I had to hear that stupid “Go Cubs Go” song. Seriously, that is the worst. Most of all I was pissed because I had expected the Reds to win, and they lost.
When was the last time we could say that about a Reds team? I sat through 2 losses in Pittsburgh this past April and certainly didn’t feel what I felt on Saturday. Sure, I didn’t enjoy sitting in 40 degree temperatures watching a lifeless baseball team. The results were still the same, but they couldn’t have been more different.
I got my first glimpse of meaningful baseball in a long time on Saturday in the middle of a loud-ass Wrigley Field. The team ultimately came away losing 2 of 3 and we were all upset that we didn’t sweep a team who has been to the NLCS each of the last 3 years and won the World Series in 2016. If this is what meaningful baseball feels like, I am here for it. It sure beats the hell out of the alternative.
All stats and notes are through Sunday’s games.
2018 Reds - Capsule 5
Season Strength of Schedule: .501 (8th hardest in NL; 17th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .484 (12th in NL; 22nd in MLB)[Previous: .467 - 15th NL; 27th MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous: 0.0%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0% (Previous: 0.0%)
- .275/.365/.442 slash line for capsule 5, compared to the NL average of .256/.328/.413 and .285/.364/.430 for capsule 4.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Gennett, Suarez, Peraza, Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler, Winker.
- Another capsule, another very solid performance by the offense. They were better than league average in every stat except for doubles. They scored 31 more runs than the NL average and walked 23 more times than the NL average. This team has the offensive firepower to stay in every game they play in 2018.
- Let’s just talk about Eugenio Suarez for a minute. Pardon me, All-Star Eugenio Suarez. He went on an absolute tear in capsule 5. He slashed .373/.468/.672, mashed 5 dingers, drove in 15 runs, and drew 10 walks against 14 strikeouts. He has a career-high OPS+ of 165 in 2018 and has already been worth 3.4 bWAR.
- Remember that time Jesse Winker was struggling at the plate? Well, it seems that period of life is behind him at the moment. He hit .391/.517/.630 for the capsule, smacking 3 home runs and driving in a team-high 17. He also walked 12 times against only 7 strikeouts, trailing only Joey Votto in the number of walks and accumulating the fewest number of strikeouts among the regulars.
- Jose Peraza also hit really will over this capsule. He slashed .303/.395/.545 over the last 18 and drew 9 walks while only striking out 10 times. His 22 walks on the season has already surpassed his 2017 walk total of 20. For this capsule, he had the 3rd highest SLG (.545) and OPS (.940) among the regulars. I’m not sure how sustainable this exact version of Jose Peraza is, but if the plate discipline issues are getting figured out, it could go a long way towards his future as the Reds’ shortstop.
- Joey Votto still isn’t hitting for much power this season. He only hit one home run for the second straight capsule and he had the second-lowest SLG among the regulars at .365. His OBP of .413 was typical for Joey, as he led the team in walks at 16.
- Billy Hamilton had his best capsule of the season in this period. He slashed .339/.397/.375 over capsule 5. He still isn’t hitting the ball all that hard, as only 2 of his 19 hits went for extra bases. While he will never be a masher of dingers, you’d hope with his speed that he would hit it hard enough to at least get a few more doubles.
- Scott Schebler just continues to be a consistently good hitter in 2018. He slashed .255/.350/.451 over this capsule, which is not all that far off from his overall line of .273/.346/.466 in 2018. He also walked 8 times in this capsule, which is more than he’s had in any other capsule this season.
- Scooter Gennett came down to Earth slightly in capsule 5, hitting .281/.347/.438. It’s telling the type of year he is having when that line is considered “coming back down to Earth”, but that’s what life is like in the Land of Scooter. His .785 OPS in this capsule is his second lowest of the season, which was all the way back in capsule 1, before he had even come close to heating up yet.
- Michael Lorenzen tied for the team lead in dingers this capsule with 3.
- Team ERA of 3.80 for capsule 5, compared to the NL average of 4.36 and 4.81 for capsule 4.
- We have finally reached a time in Reds’ baseball where we can say “So this is what this team can do with good starting pitching.” We’ve suffered through some serious clunkers of pitching performances over the last few seasons, so it’s about time that we get one that’s good.
- Let’s kick this off with Tyler Mahle. Good Lord did he have a performance. He started 4 games in this capsule and put up a 2.73 ERA over 23 1/3 innings of work. He struck out 29 batters over those 23 innings and, while his 13 walks could use some improvement, it’s encouraging to see one of our young pitchers command the zone and locate his pitches like Mahle has done over the last couple of months.
- Matt Harvey was even better than Mahle in this capsule. He also started 4 games that spanned 24 innings of work and he put up a 1.88 ERA, by far the best among the starters. He walked only 3 batters and struck out 18 over those 4 starts. For someone who had such an issue giving up long balls prior to his tenure with the Reds, He gave up exactly zero (0) in this capsule. His velocity has also come back, as he is topping out again at 97 MPH instead of the 92-93 MPH he was hitting with the Mets. I have no clue how many more starts that Harvey will make in a Reds uniform, but it is nice to see that he has seemingly figured it out again in Cincinnati.
- I honestly don’t know what to say about Luis Castillo at this point. He continues to show flashes of what we saw in 2017 with some dominant stretches (i.e. the first 11 batters he faced against the Braves) but can have some stretches where the wheels absolutely fall off (the next 9 batters he faced against the Braves.) He put up a 4.93 ERA over 20.1 innings this capsule, striking out 18 batters and walking only 4.
- I was a little surprised to see that Anthony DeSclafani put up a 5.50 ERA in his 18 innings this capsule, because in the time that I watched him he seemed to look much better than that. His biggest issue at the moment is the long-ball, as he led all pitchers with 6 given up in this capsule.
- Sal Romano struggled the most out of the starting pitchers, compiling a 6.60 ERA over his 3 starts this capsule.
- Amir Garrett has really struggled out of the bullpen since taking that ball off his leg back on June 26, he has given up 5 earned runs in as many appearances and has not looked sharp in any of them. I’m not sure if that is a lingering effect of the ball to the leg, or if his usage is catching up with him, but he really struggled in the second half of this capsule. In all, he made 10 appearances that totaled 6.2 innings and he allowed 6 earned runs, walked 3, and struck out 10.
- The rest of the bullpen was solid for the most part, but are really getting to the point of being over-worked. The Reds had three relievers throw more than 10 innings this capsule and two others throw more than 7 (one of those, Dylan Floro, was traded.) While they have limited most of the damage they have endured, they are also running the risk of being ground to dust pretty quickly.
- 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 .685, which is good for 9th in the National League. The NL average DER is currently .691.
The Next 18
- 10 games at home, 8 on the road.
- 9 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- 5 of the next 18 are against American League teams, all of which use the DH.
- 3 of the next 18 against 2017 playoff teams.
- .508 combined winning % for teams in the next 18.
- The Reds still have a pretty tough stretch coming up. They play 2 division leaders in the Indians and Phillies and 6 games against a Cardinals team who, while scuffling at the moment, have been world beaters against the Reds this season.