This season went from interesting to boring pretty quickly, didn’t it? It wasn’t too long ago that the Reds were giving the best teams in the majors some serious fits and playing some seriously intriguing baseball. They were the healthiest they had been in about 4 years and things were a lot of fun. Tuning in wasn’t much of a chore because you knew that, for the first time in a while, you were getting competitive baseball.
And then, all of a sudden, things turned dull. A couple hitters regressed, Schebler, Winker, and Votto got hurt, and the Reds slogged through the month of August. After playing 6 games above .500 in the months of June and July, August has been a drag, as they are 8-12 so far this month. After 4 years of losing, it’s easy to feel pretty negative about this team. Hell, I was planning on a negative outlook in this very section until I sat down to write it. But there’s actually a lot to look forward to with this team.
Our own Charlie Scrabbles touched on it earlier yesterday, and he’s right. Without these injuries, this team would still be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. He also talked about drugs, which is also a lot of fun. But seriously, Eugenio Suarez is still mashing the ball and will still be doing it for the Reds for the next 5 years. We still have Joey Votto, who is even better than Suarez. Jose Peraza is coming into his own and so are Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler. Phil Ervin is shining in his first chance at extended playing time. That doesn’t even get to the starting pitchers, where Anthony DeSclafani, Luis Castillo, and Tyler Mahle have all flashed brilliance at points this season. That also doesn’t get to guys like Nick Senzel, who will be contributing next year.
Barring a trade, all of these guys are going to be around next year. While there are still holes to fill, especially on the pitching side, we can finally see where this team is going. The month of August hasn’t been as fun as June and July, and if this team is still banged up September won’t be much fun either. But this team has a direction, and I’m excited to see where it goes.
All stats and notes are through Tuesday’s games.
2018 Reds - Capsule 7
Season Strength of Schedule: .506 (4th hardest in NL; 10th hardest in MLB)
Season RPI (ESPN): .490 (12th in NL; 22nd in MLB)[Previous: .489 - 12th NL; 21st MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous: 0.0%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0% (Previous: 0.0%)
- .266/.318/.431 slash line for capsule 7, compared to the NL average of .252/.315/.411 and .263/.340/.414 for capsule 6.
- The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Gennett, Suarez, Peraza, Ervin Hamilton, Williams.
- The Reds hovered right around league average offensively for this capsule. Nothing really stood out about their performance, other than the fact that this offense is much less fun when Votto, Schebler, and Winker aren’t healthy.
- Jose Peraza continues to have the best season of his young career. He hit .329/.355/.562 in this capsule and had the 2nd best OPS (.917) among the regulars, which is something that I never thought I’d type. He had 3 dingers, 3 walks, and struck out 7 times, which was the fewest out of all the regulars. Nice work, kid.
- Phil Ervin has really impressed in his short stint of regular playing time. He hit /.304/.364/.609 for this capsule and led the team in OPS (.972). He has hit .302/.361/.483 over 133 PA’s in 2018. It’s obviously a small sample size, but it’s been encouraging to see what he has been able to do so far this season. He needs to continue getting regular playing time once Scott Schebler returns from the DL.
- Scooter Gennett had a little bit of a bounce back capsule, though he has been in a power slump since the All-Star break. He hit .314/.338/.471 over the last 18. His 2 home runs were only his 2nd and 3rd post-ASB, and he only walked 3 times against 17 strikeouts.
- Eugenio Suarez hit .279/.351/.485 over capsule 7, hitting 4 dingers and driving in 11. He also walked 6 times against 23 strikeouts. That strikeout number is interesting, as his strikeout total has really gone up over the 2nd half. He has struck out 108 times this season and 50 of those have come in the last 36 games.
- Joey Votto played in 11 games in this capsule, and pretty much all of them were on a bum knee after getting hit with a Ryan Madson pitch back on August 4. His .405 OBP was typical Votto, but his .290 SLG% showed how much his knee was hindering his power.
- Team ERA of 4.77 for capsule 7, compared to the NL average of 3.98 and 5.03 for capsule 6.
- Welcome back, Anthony DeSclafani. This was by-far the best stretch he has put together since coming off the disabled list. He made 3 starts over this capsule that spanned 17.2 innings. He allowed only 2 earned runs, walked only 2 batters, and struck out 16. This is the side of him we all talk about when we say “When Disco gets healthy...” with optimism about how he can impact the rotation. While there still might be starts where he takes his lumps this season, things are looking very positive for Mr. Disco.
- Luis Castillo also threw the ball well in this capsule. Though his 4.02 ERA might not show it, he flashed some more of that brilliance that we saw after his call-up last season. Despite his start against Arizona where he was bit a little by the long ball, he has pitched really well since the All-Star break. That all was capped by a fantastic outing against the San Francisco Giants in his last start, where he allowed only 1 earned run and struck out 9 batters in a Reds’ victory.
- Matt Harvey made 3 starts in this capsule, one of which was bad and the other 2 were pretty dang good. After giving up 5 runs in only 4 innings against Washington on August 4, he gave up a combined 2 runs in 13.1 innings against the Diamondbacks and Giants. In all, he put up a 3.68 ERA over 17.1 innings of work. If that shutout start against San Francisco was his last in a Reds uniform, it was a good one to end on. We’ll know by the end of today, actually, if we’ll be writing about Matt Harvey anymore in 2018.
- Both Homer Bailey and Sal Romano took it on the chin pretty hard this capsule. Homer gave up 13 runs in 14.2 IP and allowed 4 dingers. Romano gave up 12 runs over 12.2 innings of work and really struggled with his command. He walked 7 batters in that time and put up a 5.2 BB/9.
- Robert Stephenson still has trouble with his control. He made 2 starts and lasted only 6.2 innings, walking 9 batters and striking out only 6.
- Raisel Iglesias and Jared Hughes continue to be the anchors of this bullpen. Iglesias didn’t walk a batter in 9.1 innings of work and recorded 12 strikeouts. Hughes obviously isn’t the strikeout pitcher like his teammate in the ‘pen, but he still had a good capsule. He threw 7.2 innings and allowed only 2 runs, walking only 1 and striking out 6.
- 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 .688, which is good for 10th in the National League. The NL average DER is currently .693.
The Next 18
- 11 games at home, 7 on the road.
- 14 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
- None of the next 18 are against American League teams.
- 11 of the next 18 against projected 2018 playoff teams.
- .518 combined winning % for teams in the next 18.
- The Reds have a serious chance to ruin some playoff hopes in their division, as they have series against Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis. It’d be a real shame if they took part in ruining the season for the Cubs and Cardinals. Just a real shame.