Cincinnati Reds Week-in-Review April 3.0


“Hi, my name is Reds Fan…and I’m an addict.” This week, every Cincinnati Reds fan has gone from every stage to every step in the rehabilitation/rebuild/reboot program. Our beloved Redlegs improved from last week’s 1-5 record to 3-4 ending in today’s 3-hit, 9-0 lashing from the Cubs. All in all, the Reds were out scored 51-25 this week, taking two of three from the Rockies, losing three of four to those Damned Dirty Cubs (Planet of the Apes reference), and getting shutout TWICE, including Jake Arrieta‘s 16-0 no-hitter.

  • What is going right:

Top prospect Robert Stephenson beat the Rockies on Tuesday, pitching seven innings of three-hit, one-run baseball, almost effortlessly throwing 105 pitches and going deep in the game, which doesn’t happen often this year. So two starts and two wins for Stephenson in 2016. Bob Steve has only allowed nine hits in 12 innings this year, sporting a 3.00 ERA with an impressive 1.08 WHIP. We were all looking forward to his next start but the brain trust that is the Reds’ front office immediately demoted him the next day. Seems like that’s happened twice already this year.

Sluggin’ Adam Duvall had a great week since pretty much being played as the starting left fielder. This week Duvall slammed two home runs and added two doubles, OPSing .900 for the week! For the year, Dunner — I mean Duvall’er — is slashing .255/.314/.511 and tied for the team lead with six doubles. I look for Duvall to improve all his numbers, especially the power, as he’s now getting to be the everyday left fielder.

Reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever Tony Cingrani put up a nice week. Scarface Cingrani was used this week in four games, allowing only one run for a 2.45 ERA. What hurt him was walking four versus striking out three. He actually held hitters to an .083 average this week, but we all know walks will haunt, or kill, or something. Year-to-date Tony da Tiger has a 3.38 ERA over 10 games covering eight innings, issuing eight walks against nine strikeouts. The problem I see is Reds manager Bryan Price really can’t decide if he wants to use Cingrani as a lefty specialist or a regular one-inning guy, and has even waffled on Cingrani as closer. Hitters for the year are hitting .111 off him, so that’s my vote for closer.

  • What is going wrong:

The bullpen is still a disaster, ranking dead last in the majors with a 6.72 ERA. Not helping matters is that the Walt Jocketty-built bullpen also leads the majors with 42 walks allowed. As I’ve outlined the last two weeks, the Reds’ bullpen lost 31 games in each of the last two seasons and has not been fixed in either of the last two offseasons for some unknown reason. April has already featured five bullpen losses with almost another week left, so at least they’re projected to be consistent(ly bad) in 2016 too.

Speaking of the bullpen. Guess who was moved from the bullpen, actually contributing with a 3.24 ERA and 0.84 WHIP? That’s right, bucko. Dan Straily, who was becoming the Alfredo Simon of 2012-2013, an invaluable long man, was moved from the weakest of weaknesses in the tattered bullpen to the rotation. Now, he does have a respectable 3.72 ERA along with a 1.14 WHIP, but he’s only given them 9 2/3 innings over two starts. That’s not going DEEP into the games, and the overall assessment is that Straily had more value in the ‘pen. The only plausible reason for keeping the arsenal of starting arms in the minors is the ol’ service time argument. But “Hey…you…guys“, the wheels are almost running off this thing.

Batting Brandon Phillips behind Joey Votto. Right now Joseph Daniel Votto is hitting .206/.295/.309 on the year with double the amount of strikeouts (16) as walks (8). This is the worst stategy known to man. Price had a front row seat to watching Dusty Baker use BP as his “clean-up man” to Vottomatic. What it does is gives every opposing manager a tried-and-true strategy of “Who are you going to let beat you? Votto or Phillips?” The answer here has been obvious. Don’t give anything to the 2010 NL MVP to hit, worst-case scenario he walks, and possibly a double-play ball from Phillips? If Dat Dude beats you, so be it, but may the odds be ever in your favor…as long as Dusty Price keeps hitting Phillips behind Votto.

  • Overall assessment:

The team’s personnel is a major issue. There is so much talent on the roster that the team’s overall 9-10 record is oh so close to .500 ball that they’ve outplayed their overall statistics. The problem is that the roster holes are significant enough to keep our good men down. The Reds are sitting ninth in runs, 11th in average, and 14th in OBP out of the 15 National League teams. So far, they rank 28th out of 30 teams in the majors with a 5.68 Team ERA and an MLB-WORST 117 runs. Right now, even the starters are suspect posting a 5.05 ERA, 11th in the NL and 22nd in the majors.

Here’s the point. This team, especially for the last three years, is top heavy in talent but the drop-off in roster depth is huge after the Reds’ stars. If the powers that be decide to let the Stephensons of the world do their job at the major-league level, an extra game out of 5 becomes way more competitive.

Let’s hope that service-clock alarm goes off soon.