Cincinnati Reds Week-in-Review April 2.0


Hello there, Cincinnati Reds fans. As good, er, GREAT that last week’s 5-1 record was as it stood, this week’s record of 1-5 has had a sobering effect on Reds Nation. So what happened after sweeping the Phillies and taking two of three from the Pirates? The rollin’ Reds ran right into a Cubs sweep and the heated rival Cardinals taking two of three. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

  • What is going right:

The “Big Zack Cozart Machine” is literally making contact on just about anything thrown his way. In fact, Cozart made contact on the first 44 pitches he saw this season before missing the 45th pitch, followed by doubling on the 46th pitch he saw. It’s truly something to behold as the rehabbed shortstop is slashing .483/.469/.655 with 14 hits in his eight games, including five doubles. What’s helping Cozart? Keyword from above: contact. In 29 at-bats, the newly minted “Joltin’ Zack” has only struck out ONCE. This from a guy who averages 105 strike outs per 162 games played. Well done, Cozy, well done.

How much praise should we give Brandon Finnegan?! All he did was lose a no-hitter in the 7th against the Chicago Cubs in a game the Reds should’ve ultimately won. Reds manager Bryan Price chose to not pinch hit for Finnegan up 3-0 with Adam Duvall on second base in the top of the seventh after 92 pitches through six innings. I’m no rocket surgeon or brain scientist, but I can tell you that Finnegan wasn’t going to throw three more innings with that pitch count, and should’ve been pulled. “Back to the Finnegan” showed this week that he is a force to be reckoned with. Over two starts and 11 2/3 innings, he put up a 1.54 ERA this week, giving him a team-leading 2.04 ERA for the season. If Brandon can ever cut down on the walks (9 walks vs 7 strikeouts the last two starts), we may have a superstar here.

Even though the bullpen has been a terrible disaster (for three years in a row and not addressed by Walt Jocketty), I have to give a HUGE shout out to Caleb Cotham. Acquired as an afterthought in the much-debated Aroldis Chapman trade, “The Bat of Cotham” has put up another week of zeroes for a 0.00 ERA on the season. All in all over six games and six innings, he’s given up four hits while sporting a 1.17 WHIP.

  • What is going wrong:

The bullpen is a disaster, with a 5.36 ERA. If you take out “The Bat of Cotham’s” 0-spot, the rest of the bullpen has a 6.18 ERA. It’s hard to even make this stuff up. As we pointed out in last week’s review, the Reds’ bullpen lost 31 games in both 2014 and 2015. The front office hasn’t done anything to address this in THREE YEARS (…and counting). The only thing I can figure out is that when Homer Bailey gets back from his rehab, along with the promotions of Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed, the domino effect could position current starters (Alfredo Simon, Jon Moscot) into stabilizing the beleaguered bullpen.

J.J. Hoover must be removed from the closer role. Period. End of story. Hoover has a 17.18 ERA and has coughed up seven earned runs over 3 2/3 innings, surrendering four walks with only two strikeouts. That’s really all I have to say about that. Candidates? Tony Cingrani has the demeanor, or throw Blake Wood out there. Wood notched 29 saves in the minors last year so at least he’s accustomed to converting the last three outs.

The Billy Hamilton experiment is over. Time for a stint at AAA to get back his confidence. Bryan Price said today that he wanted Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall in the lineup together for more offense (where have you heard that before?) instead of Billy. There’s nobody here who wants Hamilton to be the 21st century Willie Wilson more than me, but he’s hitting .185/.313/.407 and barely getting on base. The only option at this point is to send Billy to Louisville to get his mojo back and then use him as I outlined 3 weeks ago in a Royals-esque, Jarrod Dyson super pinch runner role to be used late in close games. There’s no way Schebler and Duvall are going to develop in a platoon, see Devin Mesoraco in 2012-2013. They need to play every day, and if they do get that opportunity, the Reds’ offense is significantly better, especially if Cozart can keep getting on base at lead off.

  • Overall assessment:

Our Cincinnati Reds are at a crossroads. Yes, a crossroads and it’s only the second week of the season. Price has to put the best 25 guys on the roster. Not carry eight relief pitchers and lose Rule 5 pick Jake Cave back to the Yankees while being a bench player short for two weeks. The insanity of that will boggle your mind when you take into account that Cave had a .349 OBP in spring training. Still want to keep eight relievers? Hamilton has options and should’ve been sent to AAA because of a short spring anyway.

As stated above, the Reds’ bullpen can be fixed internally with Bailey, Stephenson, and Reed stepping into the rotation. Let’s just hope it isn’t too far gone by mid-May.