Set me free, why doncha babe
Get out of my life, why doncha babe
‘cause you don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
The 2019 season of your favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, feels like so much hanging on. It feels like waiting a solid hour for a table at a restaurant with the host continually telling you it’ll just be a few more minutes. It feels like getting home from a long trip only to be stuck in traffic just 20 minutes from your house. It is ultimately a frustrating experience, but one contingent on an unambiguously good thing: hope.
We are hanging on because there is still hope. Many things can be said about this Reds team and have been said (we have a whole blog about it!), but one that is novel and all together different from teams in recent seasons is that there is hope. That hope is steadily dwindling and hanging on now by just the thinnest of threads, but it is there. It is the middle of July and even if that hope is under 10%, it remains.
Maybe I’m reaching for a lede here, but you know what, my good friend and yours Mitchell “arf-diggity” Clark is out of the office this week getting his baby teeth removed so this is the best you are going to get.
He usually gets these 18 Games at a Time pieces written up relatively quickly, but again, this is the best you are going to get. The most recent capsule concluded on Sunday, so all stats and such here are through Sunday’s loss to the Rockies.
2019 Reds - Capsule 5
Season Strength of Schedule: .513 (second-hardest in NL, third-hardest in MLB) [previous.509 - sixth-hardest in NL; seventh-hardest in MLB]
Season RPI (ESPN): .501 (eighth in NL, 14th in MLB) [Previous: .500 - tenth in NL; 14th in MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 3.7% (Previous 2.9%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 8.4% (Previous 8.0%)
.261/.325/.448 for Capsule Five, compared to .259/.326/.444 (NL average) and .24/.310/.416 (previous capsule)
The regs by PAs were Curt Casali, Joey Votto, Derek Dietrich, Eugenio Suarez, Jose Iglesias, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, and Yasiel Puig.
The lineup produced at a league-average clip for this capsule, which as we have seen, isn’t quite cutting it. They scored a total of 90 runs against 89 allowed, resulting in an 8-10 record. Reds keep Redsing, it seems.
Yasiel Puig supernovaed this capsule, slashing .381/.429/.794 with seven home runs and 24 total hits. He drove in 17 runs in 18 games. He was the best hitter in baseball during this stretch and had more fun than any grown man should reasonably have. The reputation he brought to town was that he was fully capable of carrying an entire lineup in his exceptionally chiseled arms, but that he could also completely disappear for weeks at a time. We got Best Puig here and we are all now that much closer to god for having experienced it.
Nick Senzel gave us the first extended stretch of his young career where he Showed Us What He Got. He slashed .288/.373/.508 with four stolen bases. If he can sustain that for six months he will earn himself some down-ballot MVP votes. And there is nothing I have seen to date to lead me to believe that he is even close to finished in his development.
Eugenio Suarez had a good-not-great stretch where he slugged .565 and cracked ten extra-base hits. He also struck out 27(!!!!) times in 78 PAs. That’s a 35% K-rate, for those of you who care about that sort of thing. You should, of course, but that .333 ISO does a pretty good job of smoothing it over.
Jose Iglesias OPS’d .565 after I said the Reds should explore the prospect of signing him to an extension. Jose Peraza, conversely, slashed .324/.375/.514. My sincere hope is that you don’t ever listen to a damn thing I say here, because if there is one lesson that life has taught me over and over and over again it is that I am dumb and stupid and I should shut up and I deserve all the bad things that happen to me and none of the good things.
Philly Ervin continued to make the case that the Reds should think soberly and earnestly about finding more playing time for him in the outfield. He slashed .444/.459/.750 in 37 PAs with six extra-base hits, including three triples (Rocky Mountain High, my man).
Derek Dietrich officially stopped hitting, posting a .675 OPS with just one home run. He did, however, draw eight HBPs, increasing his league-leading total. As of the end of this capsule, he had 17 HBPs, 18 singles, and 19 home runs. I hope this lasts forever.
Team ERA was 4.80 for the capsule, compared to 4.50 (NL average) and 3.34 (Capsule Four).
For the first time all season, it was the pitching that barfed up the hamburgers. Tyler Mahle proved that he is, in fact, 24-years-old, posting a 7.27 ERA. He, Tanner Roark, and Anthony DeSclafani all gave up more than ten hits per nine. Roark gave up eight home runs. The rotation has been the bedrock of this team this season and for the first time they showed some real instability.
Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, the Reds’ two All-Star representatives, posted ERAs around 2.40 and WHIPs around 1.00. La Piedra gave up only nine hits in 19 innings. Gray struck out 33 against 19 hits in 26 innings. These two are among the top three rotation one-two punches in all of baseball and they are both under team control through 2024. Yehboy.
The bullpen though, if you can believe, was even worse than the three clunkos I talked about above. The backbone of the back of the staff has been Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, David Hernandez, and Amir Garrett. Hernandez posted a 17.42 ERA. Seven. Teen. Forty. Two. Iglesias came in at 8.75. Lorenzen was 6.06. Garrett was the obvious child, throwing six hitless innings with ten strikeouts, but he was denied and placed on the DL with a lat strain. Matt Bowman pitched 6 2/3 with an ERA near 8.00. Zach Duke had a 6.21 ERA for the capsule before being unceremoniously released.
Jared Hughes, that old reliable, threw seven innings and gave up only two runs. Robert Stephenson was the best of the bunch, logging eight innings with an ERA at 3.33 and 12 strikeouts.
Jimmy Herget made his major-league debut and got his ass waxed, giving up a pair of dingers in his lone inning.
The Next 18:
- Ten home games, eight on the road
- 13 of ‘em against the NL Central
- No interleague this time ‘round
- Nine games against projected postseason teams
- .523 combined winning percentage for teams in the next 18.
- Capsule Six began with Monday’s tilt against the Cubs and will run until August 1st. Basically, if any one of these capsules stands above the rest as definitive of the entire season, this is it. Which, to be honest, I think will be healthy for us. Over the next two weeks the Reds will either hoist themselves up over the cliff’s edge and get at them dogs, or they will release their grasp and fall silently and dramatically into the abyss. There will be no more hanging on.