The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

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The road trip is over, the Reds suffered 8 defeats in 10 games dropping from 1st to 3rd place 5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.  Not a fortnight we will remember fondly I should guess.  So why don’t we all step back, take a deep breath, shake off our worries and look at the trip that was to discover the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.The Good

Against all odds or common sense there were good things that came out of this trip.  Jay Bruce was a force of nature.  He recorded 5 HR, 14 RBIs, a Batting Average of .386, and an OPS (On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage) of an astounding 1.222.  It is exciting to think that at 24 years of age, he is well on the way to reaching 100 HR this seasonJoey Votto is 27 years old and is still 4 away from his 100th HR to put Bruce’s accomplishments into context.  If the current outputs for this season continue Bruce might even get there first though I hope that is not the case.

Other bright spots included the debut two days ago of Jeremy Horst.  In his 2.2 innings of work he retired  of the 10 batters he faced, striking out 4.  Of note, was the 4 pitch strikeout of future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.  After a first pitch ball he threw 3 straight called strikes to end the inning.  He did give up a Home Run to Brian McCann and a double to pinch hitter Wilkin Ramirez but considering this was his first Major League appearance and he had only pitched longer than this 3 times this year in Louisville he gave Dusty Baker the best he could hope for.  In addition, Jeremy got a hit and an RBI in his first and only ML at bat.  Carlos Fisher had two relief appearances that both started quite well but ended in losses because Dusty Baker simply had no one to relieve him with when his arm got tired.

This may come as a surprise but the Reds starters also had 5 quality starts and the first complete game of the season.  Mike Leake, who was in Louisville when the trip began, is the only starting pitcher to record a victory on the road trip.  Unfortunately the team only won 1 other game on the road trip which brings us to:

The Bad

I do not want to belabor the negatives on this road trip neither should they be ignored.  In order to win games you must score more runs than your opponent.  Over the ten game series the Reds scored 33 runs and gave up 66 runs.

When runners were in scoring position the Reds went 23-92 for a .250 batting average.  Their opposition went 27-87 for a respectable .310 batting average.

The Reds are known for playing solid defense and only made 3 errors during the 10 game stretch.  Those 3 errors resulted in only one unearned run.  By contrast the Reds benefited from 11 errors yet scored only 3 times wasting 8 “gifts”.

The last Bad thing to emphasize is the base running.  During the series the Reds gave up 7 outs to base running mistakes.  Now in fairness two of the calls were questionable at best.  Joey Votto’s steal attempt yesterday and Paul Janish being called out when his foot reached home plate before he was tagged.  But even in Janish’s case, was it wise to attempt to score with two outs and the reigning league MVP coming to the plate.  I do not know if he was waved home or if he made this decision on his own and his slide was perfect but he should have stopped at third base.

Of course given the discussion of bad baserunning I would be irresponsible not to mention Brandon Phillips.  He knows what he did and accepted responsibility for his mistake and apologized to his teammates and fans.  The person he really owes an apology to is Walt Jockety.  Those additional 7  innings that relief corps had to slog through have added to Jockety’s incredibly unpleasant week week.  And that brings us to:

The Ugly

The worst part of the road trip is the toll on the pitchers.  It is hard to imagine a more debilitating week for the Reds pitching staff so lets take a look at the situation.

Starters

Edinson Volquez has struggled all year and that came to a head in Cleveland where after 2.2 innings he gave up 7 hits and 3 leading to 7 earned runs.  The result was his demotion to AAA Louisville to work out his mechanics.

Bronson Arroyo had an even worse trip.  In 2 starts he gave up 14 earned runs in just 5.2.  On a good note he only walked two batters, but that is offset by the 19 hits he allowed.  He was administered an epidural to combat pain prior to his last start so the fear is his problems may be more physical than we realize.  Travis Wood has fared only slightly better.  In his two starts he gave up 7 ER in 11.1 innings but unfortunately the Reds lost both games by one run.

Johnny Cueto managed 14 IP in his two starts allowing 5 runs earning 1 loss.  He is one of two Reds pitchers to lose a game 2-1 following a Quality Start. The other was Homer Bailey, in his first outing he lost a 2-1 pitching duel with the Indians Josh Tomlin.  His second outing had far more dire consequences.  Not only did he give up 4 runs in 4 innings he returned to the 15 day disabled list with a sprained right shoulder.

Looking at the rest of the relief corps it is like visiting an infirmary.  Just before the trip began flame trowing Aroldis Chapman was placed on the DL for left shoulder inflammation which seems to be a euphemism for “inability to throw strikes”.  Matt Maloney who pitched 3.1 quality innings in the Philadelphia opener then went on the 15 DL for coughing so hard he strained his left oblique muscle.  Yesterday that he was transferred to the 60 day DL.  And finally Sam LeCure who also had an extended relief appearance, was placed on the DL with a strained right forearm that is reducing the effectiveness of his pitches.

In addition I would be remiss not to highlight the umpiring throughout this trip but predominantly during the 18 inning game in Philly and the series in Atlanta. Be sure to check out Staff Writer Kerry Moss’s article about the Halliday strikezone.  I am not going to break down the officiating except to say we should expect better.

It will be good for the team to return home to their own beds, and their own ballpark.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz

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Tags: Aroldis Chapman Baseball Bronson Arroyo Carlos Fisher Cincinnati Reds Edinson Volquez Homer Bailey Jay Bruce Jeremy Horst Johnny Cueto Mike Leake Sam LeCure Travis Wood Walt Jocketty

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