Three Up, Three Down – 4/18/13 (Reds vs Marlins)

Well Reds fans, there’s nothing like a sweep to cure the headache of being swept. Told you not to jump off the wagon just yet!

Those of you who were worried about the Reds after their three game series with the Pirates should now feel at ease after watching the good guys sweep the Philadelphia Phillies, a team the Reds have had severe problems with in the very recent past. And how did the Reds secure the sweep? With very, very good pitching.

Steve wrote a recap of the series yesterday, so I’ll spare you the details and just point you over in that direction. I do have some things to take away from this series, however:

First and foremost, it’s a long season. Just as getting swept by the Pirates didn’t mean anything, sweeping the Phillies also doesn’t mean much. At the end of the day, it’s three wins. It’s the difference between 97 wins and 94 wins. Both of those totals (probably) get you into the playoffs.

Secondly, It’s far too early in the season to be calling for certain players to get more or less playing time. The Devin Mesoraco backers have been out in full force lately, and rightfully so. Mesi has proven he can hit, and with Leake’s gem tonight, has shown that he’s capable of catching a good game. But until he can show the reliability and consistency that Ryan Hanigan brings to the team day in and day out, he’ll be starting every fifth game. The same goes for other platoons (Heisey/Paul being the most significant). The struggles or successes of a given player this early on can be attributed to a hot streak or a cold streak and nothing more or less.

Here’s the Three Up, Three Down for the series vs. the Miami Marlins:

 

Three Up

Reds Pitching

Who would’ve thought I’d be saying this after Jonathan Broxton‘s nightmare appearance against the Pirates only a few days ago, but the Reds pitching staff is on fire. The three quality (and I mean quality) starts of Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake have given the bullpen adequate time to be completely rested after being completely gassed just a few days ago. It’s a wonder what good starting pitching can do, and for the most part, it was the efforts of the latter part of the rotation that made the sweep a reality. Tony Cingrani will get the start today against a Marlins team who doesn’t project to be all that good this Summer. Will he join the party?

Apr 15, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips throws out Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Laynce Nix (not pictured) during the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Phillips

DatDudeBP continues his reign of terror against opposing pitching, getting things done with runners in scoring position in nearly half of RISP situations. That’s production. He’s currently tied for the league lead in RBIs, with huge names and huge starts like John Buck, Chris Davis and Prince Fielder. He’s off to one of the hottest starts in the MLB, in a lineup spot he wasn’t supposed to hold.

Is BP our new cleanup hitter? What happens when Ryan Ludwick comes off the DL? If only we could find someone to plug in the 2 hole…oh wait…

Zack Cozart

Cozart, the most recent resident of the second man up spot in the batting order, has been raking in his new role. He’s hitting .385/.407/.731 in the 2 hole, compared to .097/.094/.290 down in the 7 spot. Cozart definitely seems to respond to where he’s placed in the batting order. Last year his splits were also very telling, batting .324/.378/.490 in the second spot compared to .223/.262/.379 when batting leadoff in 2012. So it seems natural that Cozart should have been considered for the 2 spot over Chris Heisey. However, it doesn’t matter now. Cozart is now sitting pretty between Choo and Votto, and has already compiled 10 hits in 6 games, compared to 3 hits in 8 games when batting 7th.

 

Three Down

Chris Heisey

There really aren’t a lot of Reds who didn’t perform at a high level against the Phillies, so this list is more or less a “cooling down” list. Heisey would qualify for that category. He was only able to walk away with one hit in the series vs. Philadelphia, a double in the second game of the series. Heisey is batting .157/.189/.275 on the young season, and seems to have already lost his “every day starter” status in Left Field to a platoon with Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, as well as his spot at the top of the order to the aforementioned Zack Cozart. Heisey could use a lift, so let’s see if he can get it in the form of the Miami Marlins.

Apr 15, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (left) is congratulated by catcher Ryan Hanigan (right) at the end of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Phillies 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Hanigan 

Hanigan continues his titanic struggle at the plate. One would have to assume that the Reds everyday catcher will get things going sooner rather than later. Hanigan did get a hit in the 1-0 win over the Phillies on Tuesday, but that wasn’t enough to bring his average above .100 just yet. Meanwhile, Devin Mesoraco’s monster game last night has the fans in flux. How do you continue to root for the defensive star who’s struggling at the plate when there’s a hot-hitting young guy behind him? Hanigan will need to find a way to stay in the lineup. Defense only goes so far.

Todd Frazier

Frazier did hit a home run last night, but it was his only hit in the game, and served as his only hit in the series against the Phillies. The monster start that Frazier got off to has come crashing down. We’ve seen the monstrous numbers he can put up, but like any good player, he needs to stay consistent. His defense has been very good, making a series of nice plays at the hot corner over the entirety of the young season. Let’s see if he can get his bat going in full swing (pardon the pun) again.

 

What to Expect against the Miami Marlins

The Miami Marlins underwent quite possibly the worst (certainly the most publicized) off-season fire sale in recent memory. Imagine the Reds trading away Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, Devin Mesoraco and Xavier Paul for a haul of prospects, to leave Joey Votto alone on a team full of new faces. That’s pretty much what Marlins fans have had to deal with. Granted, some of the faces that the Marlins had last year were relatively new, and none of them were as entrenched in Marlins lore like Brandon Phillips or Bronson Arroyo are for the Reds, but still. Nearly every average to above average player was traded away, leaving a team of scrubs and prospects to compete day in and day out.

Apr 13, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) sits in the dugout during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The saving grace for the club is Giancarlo Stanton, who has been off to a slow start on his own right. Miami has never been known for its overwhelming fan base, and whatever fans they did have had to be scorned by the big trade. Stanton is all these people have to hang on to, and he needs to get it going. Just not against the Reds, please and thank you.Game one will see Tony Cingrani taking on Jose Fernandez. Fernandez, a rookie like Cingrani, is having himself a nice start to the season. He comes in to Cincinnati with a 0.82 ERA through 11 innings, with only 1 Earned Run and 3 Walks vs 13 strikeouts. This should be a good matchup between two young, up and coming pitchers.

Game two will feature Mat Latos and Kevin Slowey. Slowey is a guy who’s had some trouble staying in the majors, and almost always has had a higher ERA. He’ll pitch game two of the series sporting a  2.04 ERA through 17.2 innings, with 4 Earned Runs, 5 Walks and 11 strikeouts.

The third game will pit Bronson Arroyo against Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc has also struggled to stay in the majors during his time as a ballplayer, and is off to the worst start of the four starting pitchers the Reds will see. He’ll face Arroyo, who had a gem of a game one against the Phillies. LeBlanc currently owns a 6.75 ERA through 14.2 innings, having already given up  20 hits, which has been good for 11 Earned Runs. LeBlanc has walked 5 and struck out 14 on the young season.

EDIT: Thanks to commentor Beeker for pointing out that I only included three games at first. The Reds will indeed be playing their first four-game series of the season against the Marlins. The wrap-up game will feature Homer Bailey taking on Alex Sanabia. Sanabia owns a 4.24 ERA through 17 innings, and is fresh off a victory against the Washington Nationals. He’ll need to bring his A game against Bailey, who, with the exception of his start against the Cardinals, has been lights out this season.

I don’t expect Miami to put up much of a fight. But then again, this is baseball. Anything can happen.

Topics: Baseball, Cincinnati Reds, MLB

Want more from Blog Red Machine?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • beeker

    I’m gonna get ya on one, Jordan. The Marlins play 4 here in Cincy. Bailey is scheduled to face Sanabia (2-1, 4.24 ERA) on Sunday. I’ll be pulling hard for Cingrani tonight… if the game goes tonight. My gut (and weather radar) tell me we are likely to see a double-header on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, the Cards play 4 in Philly and then 3 in Washington. Here’s hoping that the Reds go from 0.5 back to a 3.5 game lead in the next week!

    • http://twitter.com/JordanBarhorst Jordan Barhorst

      good call! I’m so used to the Reds playing three games I didn’t even bother to look for the fourth. I’ll be editing that one in ;)

  • metalhead65

    please explain how you show reliability and consistency by playing only every 5th day? and yes hannigan has been all those things but this season he is a automatic out. I am not saying give mesoraco the starting job but you can’t show anything playing once a week. it is mind boggling to me that Heisey was given what 12 games this season and because of a slow start this proves he can’t be a everyday player. what about 2 years of stubbs striking out almost every at bat yet still being in the lineup every day? or what about gomes,lewis,patterson and taveras all putting up pathetic numbers yet still were rolled out there everyday. sorry until you give Heisey the same time or at least start him everyday until ludwick comes back or the all star game I will still say he has not been given a chance.remember ludwick did not start hitting until mid June last year.

    • http://twitter.com/JordanBarhorst Jordan Barhorst

      Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? The truth is, being a manager isn’t as easy as just giving a guy a chance on a whim. It’s a mix of past statistics, future potential and current reliability. Some managers weigh these differently, and in Baker’s case, he seems to favor past statistics and current reliability way more than future potential. It’s done him well in the past, so I’m not arguing with it.

      Heisey is still getting his chance, believe me. Whereas you think it’s mind boggling that he was only given 12 games, I think it’s ridiculous that this is his third or fourth time being given an opportunity to win the job and he still hasn’t come through. Putting up with Stubbs for 2 years was a lot easier because he was a proven commodity as far as speed goes. Despite his offensive struggles he still found a way to make a difference in the game with 30-40 stolen bases and great defense. Heisey hasn’t proven that he can do anything outstanding, and in reality is a great fourth outfielder.

      I’ll be writing a piece on the Mesoraco/Hanigan debate soon. I don’t think Mesoraco has anything left to prove. He is what he is — a very solid offensive player with questionable and still developing defensive and game-calling abilities. You can’t call it quits on a guy as sturdy as Hanigan has been in the past, even if he’s struggling. Not when it’s this early in April. There’s just no reason not to start the guy with the league’s lowest pitcher’s ERA behind the plate. I don’t care how “automatic” of an out he is.

      • metalhead65

        dusty’s ways may have served him well in the past during the regular season but as we have seen by his playoff record they do him no good in the post season. again I did not say give up on hannigan but I see no reason not to give Mesoraco more playing time to improve upon those skills that hannigan is good at.

        • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

          I never really liked the idea of platooning catchers. Look at Molina (Yadier), he is there most of the time. He has played 120+ games 6 times in 10 years. I know catchers need an occasional rest but every two or three games won’t cut it. A backup is a backup. Hanigan is arguably one of the two best defensive catchers in the National League and has always had a good OBP.

          • metalhead65

            except this year. he is not helping the team batting under .100 good defense or not. if Mesoraco is not going to play then trade him. then watch him become a molina like catcher for somebody else the next 10 years. what was the point of having him make the team if you are not going to play him? he is suppose sit on the bench then if hannigan gets hurt or they don’t resign him later mesoraco is supposed be a all star catcher right away when they put him in the line up?

          • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

            I see where you are coming from, but look at how Meso folded last year. After 6 games he was hitting .294 and ended up at .212.

            After six games now he is only hitting .235. PED’s notwithstanding, I believe they traded the wrong catcher to San Diego. Not trying to argue, just saying I believe Yasmani is better. But he obviously is a doper, like Braun.

      • metalhead65

        stubbs defense is so great the indians signed bourne and moved him to right field. his speed made him look better than he was,he played shallow and his speed allowed him to catch up to balls that would have been routine had he been playing where should have to begin with.

    • beeker

      I am not disputing your point about Heisey, but let’s not forget that when Stubbs first took over in CF, he played his best ball. In 2010 he hit .255 with 22 HRs, 6 triples, 77 RBI. Yeah, he K’ed a lot, but overall was pretty productive for a CF with such good defense. Each year he got worse, but to a degree you can understand Dusty and Walt giving Stubbs time wanting/hoping he would come back around. Did they stick with him too long? Absolutely.

      I can’t explain–or understand–why they stuck so long with Taveras, Patterson, et al, but not Heisey. You are right that it is not fair. But I know that if current trends continue, Paul will continue to gain PT. Whether we like it or not.

      • metalhead65

        if paul produces then I guess I can’t complain to much but it drives me nuts when they say Heisey has had plenty of time when in fact he has not. he gets benched the first time he does not produce or in previous years no matter how well he did in spot starts. kind of like the Mesoraco situation going on now. no matter what he does he gets 2 games a week max and people talk about how superior hannigan is and what he brings in terms of defense and leadership but how is mesoraco supposed to develp that playing 1-2 games a week? if hannigan had a typical hannigan year maybe you could argue against it but sub .100 average? unacceptable.