Cincinnati Reds Week-in-Review: April 4.0


It’s starting to look a lot like the opposite of Christmas, every where the Cincinnati Reds go. Yeah buddy, five losses in a row this week (six losses in a row if you count last Sunday) until the calendar flipped to May on Sunday where the Reds squeaked out an extra inning 6-5 win in 11. Thank goodness for Tim Adleman‘s debut six innings. Going 1-5 this week sure didn’t help out the Vegas odds, I can tell you that.

  • What is going right:

Blazin Billy Hamilton has started to hit. No, I am not kidding. Don’t “x” out of this link. I am being totally serious right now. Our Billy Primetime hit .333 for the week. No, seriously. For REAL. That’s right! Billy used a three-hit game to make this week his best week of the year so far, but when that’s how they fall, then that’s how they fall. He was 7/21 this week with a double, scored four times, and even swiped three bases. Now he’s only up to .220/.281/.356 for the year. But this is the BIG STAT that stands out; Billy had more hits (7) last week than he had the rest of the season (6) combined.

The Franchise Player Joey Votto is also starting to hit. After a terrible 0-for-19 slump that plagued Votto’s April, this week in Votto Baseball  he slashed .316/.440/.316 while adding five walks. There is a huge hole behind Votto in the lineup, because even though he was on base 11 times last week, he scored a total of one run. It’s time to find another cleanup hitter to put behind Votto. They need to do something because as I outlined last week, batting Brandon Phillips behind Vottomatic doesn’t make anything automatic but an intentional walk. One more tidbit, even with Votto’s less than stellar start, he’s still second on the team with a .330 OBP. That statistic should start with a four (.400+ OBP) in no time.

Honestly Reds fans, there’s just not much more going right at the big league level. But let me tell you a story about Cody Reed. Acquired along with Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb in the deal that sent Johnny Cueto to Kansas City last July, Reed is the Reds’ number three top prospect. All Reed has done so far in Triple-A over the last month is go 3-0 with a dazzling 1.62 ERA over 3 starts covering 16 2/3 innings. He’s also doing it in style with 17 strikeouts versus five walks and a crisp 0.90 WHIP! Reed’s last start was Sunday and it was a dandy; one-hitter over seven scoreless innings with 5 punch outs! It’s only a matter of time until Reed is your new favorite Cincinnati Red.

  • What is going wrong:

Bryan Price playing with his succeeding hitters by moving them around. Example 1A is Eugenio Suarez who is raking in the two hole: .284/.341/.481 with four HR and 14 RBI. But Price tried moving Suarez to the 4-hole and 6-hole, changing his approach from a guy shooting the ball all over the place, including some over the fence, to “trying to do too much” with two hits in 13 at-bats. You can say I’m wrong but Suarez had a week that didn’t reward or recover from Price’s tinkering, going 3-for-22 slashing .136/.174/.227 and scoring a single run. How hard is it to leave Suarez 2nd in the lineup and move someone who’s at the bottom of the order like Adam Duvall up to clean up while batting your backups seventh or eighth? Wait, no let’s plug some .175 or .227 hitting backup in the two hole and move the successful two hole hitter to cleanup. I know, it hurts my brain too.

Seems like I’ve been circling around this clean up hitter controversy for quite some time. Point being is Brandon Phillips‘ last week has been an abysmal .071/.133/.071 slash line with one hit and one walk. The amazing stat is that he scored both times! Here’s the deal. You cannot compete with a clean up hitter who’s on pace for seven home runs and 42 RBI. Do I think Phillips will only have seven dingers and 42 RBI the entire year? Of course not. But to get one HR and 7 RBI out of your cleanup hitter in April isn’t going to get it done. Remember, Joey Votto scored the same amount of runs hitting .316 with a .440 OBP this week as .071 hitting Phillips did; One. Wrap your head around that! The clean-up hitter needs to be home run savvy and an actual threat so Votto gets some pitches. My vote for BP? Hit him fifth in the lineup. BP is a career .324/.371/.472 hitter out of the five hole.

I hate to keep harping on this bullpen but they’ve accumulated a 6.16 ERA (LAST IN THE MAJORS) this season and been hung with six losses. That means the Reds are on pace for 36 losses out of the bullpen. I’ve heard a lot of people say “so what” to Aroldis Chapman being gone, because it doesn’t matter that the rest of the bullpen is in such shambles anyway. Well, since the bullpen lost 31 total games in 2014 and lost 31 total games in 2015, I guess we now know that having Chapman around was worth about an extra five wins over an entire season, give or take. Chapman was usually between 2-3 WAR per season so it’s not that hard to figure out that just having him out there contributing would extrapolate a few extra W’s.

  • Overall assessment:

Here’s the short version. We’ve already passed the free agency part of all the prospect’s timelines. Now it looks like the front office is dodging the Super Two cutoffs which is all about economics. It basically saves the team a year of arbitration if the player doesn’t get 133 total days of service time in their rookie year. Anything after two years and 133 days, the player gets arbitration in their fourth season. After all the math works out for the team’s bottom line, we could see Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, and Jesse Winker all brought up. So I am going to reserve judgment on this team as a whole until Stephenson, Reed, and Homer Bailey take over the back three rotation slots. Adding them to Iglesias (hopefully) and Finnegan could keep the Reds in every game. We’ve mentioned before that once those three take over for some current starters (Alfredo Simon, Jon Moscot, Dan Straily), moving them to the bullpen, that could be all this team needs to compete.

Just find someone to close not named J.J. Hoover, leave Suarez in the two hole, slide Phillips down in the order, find a clean up hitter, and everything else is cream cheese.