The rebuild is over. No more stockpiling prospects. No more selling. July 30, 2019 officially marked the end of the 5-year rebuild that the Cincinnati Reds have put themselves through. Sure, it cost them maybe a little more than most of us would have liked, but when they traded for Trevor Bauer on Tuesday night they signaled that they were all in on winning in 2020.
That’s not to say they have given up on 2019. They still have a shot at the post-season, albeit a small one, but winning in 2020 is the goal and if they make the postseason in 2019 it’s just icing on the cake. As it stands right now, they will go to next season with one of the best rotations in baseball. The 1-2-3 punch of Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, and Sonny Gray will compete with anyone, not to mention a solid back end with Tyler Mahle and Anthony DeSclafani.
They also have some work to do. While the starting pitching is there, the bullpen is not. Raisel Iglesias can be a great pitcher but has struggled this season. Same with Amir Garrett. While Michael Lorenzen can be solid, he has also struggled at times. The rest of the bullpen has not been good and the Reds will have to upgrade there if they want to compete. Same goes for the offense. This was one of the better offenses in baseball just a season ago. But in 2019 the inconsistency at the plate has cost them quite a few games. The Reds need to find upgrades at shortstop, catcher, and in the outfield to really field a competitive roster in 2020.
Unfortunately the Reds are going to have to do something they haven’t done in years and spend money in free agency. They have used up most of their best trade chips in the Yasiel Puig trade and the aforementioned Bauer trade, so acquiring a Francisco Lindor type player is most likely out of the question. The base is set for a 2020 run. All that’s left is for the Reds to spend the money to finish the job.
All stats and notes are through Friday’s games.
2019 Reds - Capsule 5
Season Strength of Schedule: .513 (second-hardest in NL, third-hardest in MLB) [previous .513 - 2nd hardest in NL; 3rd hardest in MLB]
Season RPI (ESPN): .501 (eighth in NL, 14th in MLB) [Previous: .501 - 8th in NL; 14th in MLB]
Baseball Prospectus division odds: 1.8% (Previous 3.7%)
Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 6.5% (Previous 8.4%)
- .284/.349/.461 for capsule 6, compared to .250/.322/.427 (NL average) and .261/.325/.448 for capsule 5.
- The regulars, as determined by plate appearances: Lavarnway, Votto, Suarez, Iglesias, VanMeter, Winker, Senzel, Puig.
- The offense was pretty good for this capsule, as they were better than league average in pretty much every statistic. That isn’t something that has happened often this season so we should celebrate. Something that did happen was that the offense was inconsistent, which has happened often this season. They scored 3 runs or fewer in 8 of the 18 games in this capsule. Thankfully the pitching was good enough in some of those games that they still resulted in wins, but it is still incredibly frustrating to watch.
- Eugenio Suarez had himself quite the capsule. He collected 20 hits, 9 of which were extra-base hits and 8 of which were dingers. He had an overall slash of .333/.423/.750 for capsule 6 and was 2nd among the regulars with an OPS of 1.173.
- Yasiel Puig had a tough go of it in his final stretch as a Cincinnati Red. After a scalding hot stretch in June and July, he struggled out of the All-Star Break, hitting only .205/.281/.328 in capsule 6. In all, he hit .252/.302/.475 with 22 HR, 61 RBI. If the season ended today, his OPS+ of 96 would be the worst of his career. While it wasn’t exactly what we expected of Puig, he was a joy to watch after his ice cold April and provided a ton of entertainment each night. It was a short-lived tenure, but I will miss Yasiel Puig in a Reds’ uniform.
- Jesse Winker came out of the break on an absolute tear. He was 3rd on the team in OPS at .970 and was 2nd on the team in OBP at .452. He was also one of 2 regulars who walked (7) more times than he struck out (6).
- Derek Dietrich has not hit the ball in a long time. That continued in capsule 6, as he hit .071/.381/.143. His OBP was boosted by the fact that he was hit by a pitch 5 times in the capsule, which was a higher total than his walks and hits combined.
- Josh VanMeter has continued to take advantage of his extended playing time. He hit .378/.465/.757 in 43 PA’s for capsule 6. He was second on the team in home runs with 4 and led the team in OPS at 1.222.
- Nick Senzel OPS’d .866 and led the team in doubles with 5.
- Joey Votto has slowly gotten back to his old ways, but he isn’t quite there yet. He hit .270/.329/.446 over the capsule and was 2nd on the team in XBH with 7. He walked only 7 times against 14 strikeouts, which has been an unfortunate trend for Votto this season. He already has 9 strikeouts on the season, which is more than his 2017 total and only 11 away from his 2018 total.
- Team ERA was 4.84 for the capsule 6, compared to the NL average of 4.32 and 4.80 for capsule 5.
- For the second capsule in a row, it was the pitching who wasn’t up to par. As I said in the offense section, the pitching did perform when they needed to when the offense didn’t play well, but they gave up a lot of runs when the offense actually did score. So it actually evened out a bit. At some point this team is going to play well in both aspects of the game at the same time, right?
- Luis Castillo had a 4.13 ERA in capsule 6, allowing 11 ER over 24 innings of work. Those numbers are skewed a little, as he allowed 6 runs in his start against Colorado back on July 26. The good news is that he is walking fewer batters now, as he allowed only 6 walks against 27 strikeouts. He only walked 7 batters in the month of July and his K/BB ratio is at 4.5, up from 2.53 from the first half. SSS and all that, but that’s a nice change.
- Sonny Gray pitched pretty well, allowing 7 runs in 17 innings of work while walking 3 and striking out 18. His best start in the capsule came back on July 17, where he allowed 2 runs over 6 innings while walking none and striking out 8.
- Anthony DeSclafani pitched pretty well in capsule 6, allowing 8 earned runs over 21.2 innings of work. He walked only 5 batters and struck out 25. Overall he has had a solid season in his first full season of baseball since forever.
- Tanner Roark’s last start as a Red wasn’t particularly good, but it doesn’t overshadow what he did in his short time with the Reds. He wasn’t overpowering but he put the Reds in position to win on most nights that he took the ball. In all, he put up a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts. Good luck in Oakland and have fun wearing the best uniforms in baseball.
- While the starting pitching was mostly alright, the bullpen really took a beating. I’ll just go through them quick so I don’t have to dwell on them for anymore bullet points. Raisel Iglesias gave up 5 runs in 8 innings. Jared Hughes had a 10.50 ERA in 6 innings. Amir Garrett allowed 3 runs in 3 innings of work in the capsule. Michael Lorenzen was the only one who was decent, allowing only 1 run in 10.1 innings. He also allowed 13 base runners in those 10ish innings, so he was constantly pitching out of trouble.
- A team’s defensive efficiency rating (DER) is their ability to turn balls in play into outs. The Reds have a DER of .693 season, which is good for 5th in the National League and 11th in all of baseball.
The Next 18:
- 13 games at home, 5 on the road.
- 8 of those 18 against the NL Central.
- 2 games against American League teams, none of which use the DH.
- 13 against projected playoff teams.
- .527 combined winning percentage against the next 18.