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18 Games at a time - Capsule 3

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Selective endpoints on the 2019 Reds: Games 37-54

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Since the last time we visited these 18-game capsules, I wrote about how the Reds were running out of time to make a run and that things needed to turn around quickly. Since then, they have gone 10-8, sit 4 games under .500 and are within 6 games of first place. Although the ground they gained wasn’t as much as we might have hoped, especially considering some of the games they dropped in that span, but things feel much more manageable now.

Even though they were only 1 game better than they were in the previous 18, the improvement of the offense has shown how good this team can be when they are actually hitting the ball. Joey Votto, mired in a season-long slump hit nearly .500 over the last week. Nick Senzel OPS’d .931 over the last 2 weeks and Derek Dietrich literally couldn’t stop hitting home runs. The last two series against the Cubs and Pirates saw this team string together hits better than they had all season, causing us to ask the “What If?” question. Not in the sense of “What if they had done this earlier?”, but “What if they do this the rest of the season?”

In a division this competitive, they certainly have the ability to make a run quickly playing like they have over the last few weeks. But they have to do it consistently. They can’t squander chances like they did in Milwaukee, or on Monday afternoon against Pittsburgh. They have had the pitching all year, and now they have the hitting. Now we see if they can finally put it all together over a long period of time.

All stats and notes are through Monday’s games

2019 Reds - Capsule 3

Record: 10-8

Season Strength of Schedule: .510 (6th hardest in NL; 8th hardest in MLB)

Season RPI (ESPN): .498 (10th in NL; 16th in MLB)[Previous: .481 - 13th NL; 22nd MLB)

Baseball Prospectus division odds: 3.2% (Previous 1.4%)

Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 9.5% (Previous 5.4%)

Offense

  • .269/.328/.426 slash line for capsule 3, compared to the NL average of .253/.324/.423 and .225/.312/.407 for capsule 2.
  • The regulars, according to plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Dietrich, Iglesias, Suarez, Puig, Winker, Senzel.
  • The offense finally, finally seems to be here. While the Reds were still inconsistent at the plate in the early part of this capsule, they finally started to come around over the last week. They were at or above league average in pretty much every offensive category, showing what they could do with an offense that was similar to the one we had seen in 2017 and 2018.
  • Joey Votto has finally started to heat up over the last couple weeks. He hit .284/.355/.388 for capsule 3. While his power still isn’t there, only 4 of his 19 hits went for extra bases, but he at least seems to be seeing the ball much better over the last week. In the last 7 days he’s hit .478/.480/.565. We may not get 2017 Joey back, but he is starting to look much more like himself.
  • Let’s just go ahead and get Derek Dietrich out of the way. He collected 9 hits in this capsule and 5 of them left the yard. After Monday’s games, he had 27 hits on the season and 14 of them were home runs. Maximum Derek, indeed.
  • Yasiel Puig struggled a little in this capsule. He hit .242/.265/.470 over the last 18. He did some good things, as he was tied for the team lead with 5 home runs, but also only drew 2 walks against 20 strikeouts.
  • Eugenio Suarez has really come into form over the last few weeks, as he hit .370/.410/.630 in capsule 3. He led the team with 27 hits and 11 of those went for extra bases.
  • Jesse Winker had somewhat of a power outage in capsule 3, slugging only .352 and collecting only 3 extra-base hits.
  • Jose Iglesias continues to be a fantastic addition to the Reds in 2019. He hit .314/.333/.429 over the last 18 with 2 home runs, 2 doubles, and 10 driven in. With Scooter Gennett coming back soon, it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle the middle infield in the coming weeks.
  • Nick Senzel hit .286/.349/.377 in capsule 3 with 3 doubles and 2 triples. He was in a little cold spell before last weekend but has still been hitting the ball well. He currently holds the longest on-base streak in the National League at 18 games. Overall, he’s adjusted quite well to major league pitching, putting up a .265/.342/.431 slash to start his young career.

Defense

  • Team ERA of 4.04 for capsule 3, compared to the NL average of 4.27 and 3.64 for capsule 2.
  • The pitching, while still good, wasn’t quite what we had all seen early in the season. The bullpen struggled to hold leads at points, and Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle also hit some rough patches in this capsule. Overall, though, they performed well enough to keep the Reds in position to win a lot of games.
  • Luis Castillo struggled in this capsule compared to his 2019 standards. He allowed 9 runs in 19.1 innings of work and was unable to hold leads in his last 2 games, including a 6-1 lead against Milwaukee last week.
  • Sonny Gray was great in this capsule, putting up a 2.89 ERA in his last 4 starts with 11 walks and a team-leading 26 strikeouts. That included an outing where he shut out Milwaukee over 6 innings, which led to the Reds handing the Brewers their first shutout this season.
  • Tanner Roark continues to keep runs off the board. He allowed only 5 runs over 21 innings of work in the 3rd capsule. He may not be the dominant strikeout pitcher like Luis Castillo, but he limits damage and continually keeps the Reds in position to win games, which is all you can ask for from him.
  • Anthony DeSclafani has really struggled over the past month. In his last 3 starts he allowed 12 earned runs over 11.2 innings of work. His strikeout totals are way down, as he only struck out 8 in those 3 starts. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with him once Alex Wood makes his return.
  • Matt Bowman made 3 appearances out of the bullpen and didn’t allow a base runner in his 2.2 innings over capsule 3. Raisel Igesias was also good, as he didn’t allow a run over 8.2 innings while allowing only 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8.

The Next 18:

  • 10 games at home, 8 on the road.
  • 5 of the next 18 against NL Central opponents.
  • 7 of the next 18 are against an American League opponent, two of which use the DH.
  • 4 of the next 18 against 2018 playoff teams.
  • .518 combined winning percentage for teams in the next 18.
  • It doesn’t get much easier for the Reds here. They have two first-place teams coming up in the next capsule in the Phillies and Astros and 4 others who are hovering around .500. They need to keep playing well if they want to make ground in the division.