Cincinnati Reds opening series thoughts


Apr 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani (52) pitches during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the first series of the regular season is over and the Reds are sitting at 1-2 after losing the series to the St. Louis Cardinals. The first two games saw 1-0 wins, one by each team. The final game finished seven-and-a-half hours after it was originally scheduled to begin, but there was a long rain delay and after all was said and done the Cardinals hung on to win that one 7-6 and take the series.

Very little should be taken away from one series, the sample size worth of at bats, innings in the field or innings on the mound simply isn’t enough to truly have any clue of what anything means. We won’t know much about anything until the end of April and even then, we may not know much. But here we are after three games to start the year and everyone already has some thoughts. Here are mine.

Billy Hamilton had about as bad of a start as can be imagined. After replacing a guy who got on base 42% of the time last season at the top of the lineup, Hamilton went 0-12 with six strikeouts and a walk. He hit the ball semi-hard once and it came in the lone time at the plate he was batting from the right side, which is hit natural side of the plate. From the left side of the plate he struggled to stay back on the ball, often out on his front foot and simply throwing the bat at the ball. While some hitters can do that, they are hitters who have outstanding bat control. Billy Hamilton isn’t that kind of player right now. While everyone gets fooled and winds up out front at times, it seems Hamilton is purposefully slapping at the ball while on his front foot. Hopefully the trip to New York to face some lesser Mets pitching will let him get settled in a bit more and get things moving in the right direction.

Joey Votto is still the Reds best hitter. Not that anyone was truly doubting it, but after struggling against what seems to be his nemesis on opening day in Adam Wainwright, he settled in to go five for seven with two walks and two doubles while looking like Joey Votto.

Todd Frazier had a hit in each game of the series, though he showed the same inconsistencies we have seen in the past. One day he hits 900 feet worth of home runs and the day before he strikes out twice on pitches nowhere near the strikezone. His first home run yesterday was an absolute blast and I can’t wait to see what gives for the true distance on it.

Jay Bruce got the Reds on the board early on Thursday with a 2-run shot, his first of the season that was placed about 10 rows from the top of the sundeck. It seemed to get the offense moving after scoring just one run the previous two games, they went out and scored six times. It wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough because the pitching, after being so strong in the first two games, wasn’t so strong. Johnny Cueto and Tony Cingrani were outstanding in their respective starts. Tony Cingrani extended his modern record as he now has 19 straight starts of allowing fewer than six hits. Alone that would be incredible, but those are also the first 19 starts of his career. For those keeping score at home, Cingrani threw his fastball 80% of the time in that start and it continues to astound and impress that he can have so much success relying on it that much.

Where was Sam LeCure? The Reds bullpen has Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall all on the disabled list and in three different one-run games the right hander didn’t make an appearance? That seems a bit strange.

Keep using the shift, but perhaps consider not using it against Matt Adams. In the 2013 season Adams went to left field or third base just 22% of the time. He went there four times in three games against the Reds in the series. In the long run, using the shift along with players spray charts will work, but perhaps Matt Adams put the work in to go the other way and his old spray chart isn’t working for him anymore.

Those are some of my thoughts from the opening series. What caught your attention from the series?