The 2019 Cincinnati Reds season was officially laid to rest on Wednesday, August 14. It happened on an afternoon where the Reds were swept in three games at the hands of the Washington Nationals, who at the time were leading the Wild Card race. In all honesty, the season was probably over the day before after they managed to score only one run against a combination of a starting pitcher who had an ERA over 6.00 and one of the worst bullpens in the National League. And the season was probably over before that series started, and even before that all-important series at home against the Chicago Cubs just a few days before. It was fun to hope, and I hoped as much as anyone, but the chances of crawling back into a playoff spot were always a long shot.
It’s hard to say what doomed this 2019 Reds team. The lack of offense is a major one, but they have pitched well enough that they should have been able to make up for it. It could be the bullpen, which was reliable early on but became shaky at best in June. Maybe it’s because the team is nocturnal while also honoring the Sabbath, as they have an abysmal 17-33 record in day games and are 6-15 on Sundays. In all, that lack of consistency is what separates playoff teams from those who are just looking to hang on. The Reds showed that in any given series they could hang with anyone. That’s why they have winning records against teams like the Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. But they couldn’t put it together for 162 games.
That consistency also comes with experience. Joey Votto is the only player left from that 2010-2013 stretch. While guys like Trevor Bauer, Alex Wood, and Sonny Gray have experienced playoff runs and what it takes to get there, they make up the minority. This team is mostly made up of guys who are either getting their first crack at big-league experience, or guys who have been on a team in the midst of a rebuild for their whole careers. But that’s also why 2019 was and is still so important. We, the fans, got to feel what it was like to have hope in August, but so did guys like Nick Senzel, Luis Castillo, Aristides Aquino, and the like. Experience like that can only help serve as a springboard for a team that is set up even better to win in 2020.
All stats and notes are through Wednesday’s games.
2019 Reds - Capsule 7
Season Strength of Schedule: .512 (Hardest in MLB) [previous .513 - 2nd hardest in NL; 3rd hardest in MLB]
Season RPI (ESPN): .502 (11th in NL, 17th in MLB) [Previous: .501 - 8th in NL; 14th in MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.4% (Previous 1.8%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 1.5% (Previous 6.5%)
- .272/.336/.470 for capsule 7, compared to .267/.338/.465 (NL average) and .284/.349/.461 for capsule 6.
- The regulars, as determined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Suarez, Iglesias, VanMeter, Ervin, Senzel, Aquino.
- The offense was pretty much right at league average for this capsule. They were as inconsistent as they’ve been all season, getting shut down by the Joe Ross’s of the world while also exploding for 11 runs against guys like Kyle Hendricks.
- Let’s just go ahead and talk about Aristides Aquino. He couldn’t have had a better start to his major league career (when you discount last year’s lone plate appearance.) In this capsule he hit .344/.420/.902. He collected 21 hits, 11 of which were dingers and drove in 23. He also walked 7 times against 15 strikeouts and put together some very solid AB’s along the way.
- Tucker Barnhart has hit the snot out of the ball since coming off the Injured List. In capsule 7 he hit .291/.391/.545 with two doubles and four homers. Those four dingers accounted for nearly half of his season total. He also walked 8 times against 10 strikeouts, which was the best BB/K ratio among the regulars.
- Nick Senzel struggled mightily in this capsule, hitting .179/.208/.284. He collected only 12 hits and only walked twice while striking out 19 times. Our own Tony Wolfe wrote yesterday about how Senzel has struggled at the plate this season, especially in the month of August, compared to the rest of the rookies in his class. Here’s to hoping he turns it around in the last six weeks of the season.
- Eugenio Suarez struck out 24 times this capsule while walking only seven times. I realize that strikeouts are up in baseball, but Suarez is on pace to destroy his career high in strikeouts. He is at 145 K’s for the season, which is already more than 2018 and is only ten fewer than the 155 he had in 2016, which was his career high.
- Joey Votto only put up a .375 SLG before getting put in the IL with a low back strain, only collecting four extra-base hits in the capsule. It makes you wonder if he has been dealing with a sore back for a little while now.
- Jose Peraza walked twice in this capsule.
- Lastly, Jesse Winker was hitting the ball pretty well before also going down with a sore back. He hit .308/.438/.500 in 32 PA’s. He also had more walks (6) than strikeouts (4). He, unlike Votto, did not go on the IL, but he still hasn’t started the last seven games because of that back injury.
- Team ERA was 4.81 for the capsule 7, compared to the NL average of 4.86 and 4.84 for capsule 6.
- The team ERA was pretty high in this capsule but it was definitely skewed higher than it should normally would have been. David Hernandez and Sal Romano allowing 17 runs in seven innings combined will definitely take it in that direction. It also doesn’t help when Trevor Bauer gives up nine in one game and Luis Castillo gave up eight in another. Anyway, the pitching was overall pretty good in this capsule without those outliers.
- Speaking of good, Sonny Gray was not. He was fantastic. He made four starts that spanned 24 innings in capsule 7 and allowed a total of one (1) run. He did walk 14 batters, which is pretty high, but he struck out 34. He also struck out at least 10 batters in each of his last two starts. He put up a scoreless streak of 23 innings, which was the longest by a Reds starter since 1990. Well done.
- Luis Castillo also pitched 24 innings over four starts in this capsule. Outside of his bad game against St. Louis, he pitched pretty damn well, as he allowed only six runs in the other three starts. One of those games included a 13 strikeout performance against Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels. The major part of his performance in the second half has been the decrease in his walk total. He walked only two batters in this capsule and has only walked eight in the second half while his K/BB ratio has skyrocketed from 2.34 in the first half to 6.88 in the second half.
- If Trevor Bauer only pitched in GABP, he’d be doing great. In his two home starts he allowed three earned runs over 14 innings while walking three and striking out 22. In his two road starts, he allowed 12 runs with five walks and only eight strikeouts over nine innings of work. Of course, nine of those 12 runs were allowed in one game, as I mentioned above.
- Alex Wood has mostly struggled since coming off the injured list. In 13 innings in capsule 7, he put up an ERA of 8.31, allowing 12 earned runs over that span. His main issue is that he’s been giving up a lot of hits and can’t keep the ball out of the yard. He gave up 22 hits and allowed five dingers for the capsule.
- Anthony DeSclafani also struggled in this capsule. He allowed 11 runs over 14.1 innings of work in period 7. He also struggled with the long ball tying Alex Wood with five homers. He also walked eight batters in those 14-plus innings, contributing to the struggles.
- Raisel Iglesias has also been better in the second half. In capsule 7, he allowed only one run over 6.2 innings while walking only one and striking out eight. He has also seen a huge increase in K/BB ratio, going up from 2.76 in the first half to 7.67 in the second half.
- Other good performances from the bullpen were: Lucas Sims, who allowed two runs in 9.2 innings while striking out 16 and Robert Stephenson, who didn’t allow a run in six innings of work.
The Next 18:
- 7 games at home, 11 on the road.
- 7 of those 18 against the NL Central.
- No games against American League teams
- 8 games against projected playoff teams.
- .466 combined winning percentage against the next 18.
- This might be the first time I’ve written that the next Reds opponents have a combined winning percentage below .500 this season. It’s been a pretty tough schedule but they have some immediate relief with Pittsburgh and Miami coming up. There are also chances to improve their slim hopes of making the Wild Card, with games against St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Arizona later in the capsule.