Cincinnati Reds: The offense needs to wake up against the Brewers

CINCINNATI, OHIO - MARCH 28: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds and Jose Iglesias #4 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate after Peraza hit a three run home run during the seventh inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park on March 28, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - MARCH 28: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds and Jose Iglesias #4 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate after Peraza hit a three run home run during the seventh inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park on March 28, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds’ bats were eerily quiet this past weekend. The Brewers come into Great American Ball Park for three games and the Reds need to get their offense going.

The Cincinnati Reds split the rain-shortened two-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While a lot of fans focused on the terrific outing by Luis Castillo on Thursday and directed their ire at Sonny Gray‘s poor performance on Sunday, the Reds’ offense was strangely absent for the majority of the series. The bats need to wake up against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.

Yes, Luis Castillo was dealing on Thursday. And yes, Sonny Gray struggled mightily in the frigid temperatures on Sunday afternoon. But, no one was colder than the Reds’ bats. Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams shut down the heart of the Reds’ batting order with the exception of Joey Votto.

Joey Votto went 3-for-8 with 2 doubles in the 2 game series with the Buccos. The other five players who make up the meat of the Reds’ lineup went 0-for-28. Yikes! Yes, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler all went hitless in the opening series. That cannot continue against the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Jesse Winker got the Opening Day start and was the leadoff hitter for David Bell against the Pirates on Thursday. Scott Schebler took over leadoff duties against the Bucs on Sunday and Matt Kemp took over in left field for Winker, who got a pinch hit at-bat in the series finale.

While going hitless is bad enough, the strikeout totals are even more alarming. Those same five players on the Reds went down without putting the ball in play 10 times during the series. Yasiel Puig struck out four times and Scott Schebler did so on three occasions himself.

If you want to dig even deeper, though he had a productive series and a key home run in Game 1 against the Pirates, José Peraza struck out four times as well. Peraza seems to have found his home in the No. 6 hole with Tucker Barnhart and José Iglesias bringing up the backend of the Reds batting order.

Barnhart and Iglesias actually faired well in the opening series. Barnhart went 2-for-6 with a walk and a run scored, while Iglesias went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. Derek Dietrich of course provided a 3-run pinch hit homer on Opening Day, but didn’t produce in yesterday’s game going 0-for-2.

Most fans felt as though the offense would be the one thing that the Cincinnati Reds could hang their hat on this season and the pitching would be the team’s undoing. While it’s early and no one expects the big bats on the Reds to continue to struggle, it’d be nice to see the offense pick up the pieces and show what they’ve got when the Brewers visit this week.

Just like with Sonny Gray, there’s no need to hit the panic button. Yes, Yasiel Puig is 0-for-7, but the sky isn’t falling. There’s no need to take to Twitter and complain about Scott Schebler’s slow start meaning the Reds screwed up and it’s time for Nick Senzel to takeover in center field.

It does, however, mean that it’s time for the Cincinnati Reds’ offense to begin producing. With Kemp and Winker both hitless early on, there’s no one lineup choice that’s better than another. Barnhart is playing well, so subbing in Curt Casali won’t really improve the offense.

You could possibly see Dietrich get a start during the upcoming series, but not at the expense of Iglesias or Peraza. Perhaps we see Dietrich in left field for game? If Schebler continues to struggle early, will David Bell turn to Michael Lorenzen in center field?

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The Cincinnati Reds have options and we’re only two games into the season, so it’s no cause for panic. However, with the Brewers coming to town, the Reds’ bats are going to have to wake up because it’s doubtful that this series will be decided by the pitching.