Cincinnati Reds: David Bell’s decision was fine, the execution was not

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Manager David Bell #25 of the Cincinnati Reds talks with the media prior a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - MARCH 19: Manager David Bell #25 of the Cincinnati Reds talks with the media prior a spring training game against the Chicago White Sox at Goodyear Ballpark on March 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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David Bell made some interesting decisions in the Cincinnati Reds loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. The decisions were not wrong, but the execution was poor.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy to second guess someone else’s decision. In sports, we often don’t agree with a lot of things. Last night, those things were questionable decisions on the part of Cincinnati RedsDavid Bell. I’ll admit, there were even a few times where I questioned what Bell was thinking, but it was the execution more so than the decisions that resulted in last night’s loss.

Yeah, when David Bell pulled Derek Dietrich in the bottom of the sixth inning in favor of José Iglesias, I was a little surprised. Dietrich had battled the opposition all night, and at that point, aside from a couple sharp line drives by Eugenio Suarez and Yasiel Puig, no one in the Cincinnati Reds’ lineup was putting the bat on the ball.

But Bell’s move was calculated and it wasn’t wrong. The Milwaukee Brewers had just brought in left-handed pitcher Alex Claudio. Last season, Dietrich hit .227 off lefties while Iglesias was 28-for-88 (.318) last season with 3 home runs. Sorry folks, he was playing the percentages. Now, Iglesias ended up grounding out to end the inning, but that’s not a bad decision.

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How about when David Bell pulled Anthony DeSclafani after five innings of one run baseball? Before we get into the decision, can we all agree that Disco looked sharp last night? If this is the version of Anthony DeSclafani we’re going to get all season, sign me up.

Now, as for the decision to pull Disco from the game. Yes, it was questionable, but if you haven’t figured it out yet, David Bell and Derek Johnson are going to rely heavily on the bullpen. There’s a reason the Cincinnati Reds have 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster. In today’s age of analytics, it’s rare to see any pitcher other than a team’s ace, go through an opposing team’s lineup three times.

To be honest, I was mildly surprised that Bell left DeSclafani out there to face the top of the Brewers order in the fifth inning. That turned out to be a great decision, as Disco induced a ground out from Lorenzo Cain, struck out Christian Yelich, and got Travis Shaw to fly out to Puig in right.

The way Zach Duke threw the ball in the previous game, I had all the confidence in the world that he was going to shut down the Brewers in the sixth. That wasn’t the case. Duke walked Jesus Aguilar on four pitches and gave up a line drive single to Yasmani Grandal. This put runners on the corners with two outs and Orlando Arcia at the dish.

This was the point in the game where everyone began to question the Cincinnati Reds’ skipper. David Bell lifted Duke in favor of Michael Lorenzen to face Orlando Arcia. Arcia responded by launching a three-run bomb over the right field wall and gave the Brewers a three-run lead.

Okay, let’s unpack this, shall we? Should the Reds have walked Arcia to get to the pitcher’s spot in the lineup. Goodness, no! Did you see who was in the hole should Arcia have gotten a free pass? Ryan Braun, known Reds killer, was awaiting his opportunity to swing the bat. So, that notion can be tossed aside. Yes, I know Jhoulys Chacin was dealing, but in the very next inning he loaded the bases.

So, here’s the one time during the game where I think it’s fair to question David Bell’s decision. It’s not that he decided to pitch to Arcia, but that he brought in Michael Lorenzen to do it. Arcia was 4-for-9 with a home run against Lorenzen before last night’s at-bat. He’s now 5-for-10 with 2 home runs against Lorenzen.

Lorenzen was visibly upset after surrendering the long ball and it showed in the next two batters he faced. He walked the pitcher Chacin and then Cain. Lorenzen then got back on track and Christian Yelich popped out to end the inning.

My biggest issue with Bell’s decision to put Lorenzen in against Arcia isn’t so much the matchup, but rather how the Reds plan to use Lorenzen this season. If you’re going to use Michael Lorenzen as a bat off the bench and a fifth outfielder, I think being conservative with when you have him enter the game is paramount.

The Reds have a short bench and if Lorenzen is going to come in to pitch, he should at least be given the opportunity to hit as well so as not to waste an at-bat. With the top of the order coming up during the next inning, I don’t like the timing of the call to Lorenzen. Aside from that, I have little to no issue with the decisions David Bell made during last night’s game.

To his credit, Michael Lorenzen took the heat for last night’s loss and expressed the same sentiment that I’m illustrating here. It wasn’t poor decisions, but rather poor execution. Here’s what Lorenzen said after the game via Reds.com:

"“The cutter was supposed to be away, [I] didn’t execute. A guy like him who swings a ton, it’s just a terrible pitch on my part. We score a couple of runs after that, and all I have to do is come in and get one out. I do my job, I do what I’m supposed to do, we win tonight. Tonight, that’s on me.”"

That’s the type of player I want on my team. Somebody who stands up and takes responsibility when they make a mistake. Kudos to Lorenzen for that, and he’s right. If he does his job, the outcome is likely a lot different.

Regardless, the game’s in the books and the Cincinnati Reds will play another this afternoon. The Reds will get one last chance to knock off the defending NL Central Champions before heading to Pittsburgh. Last night’s game is going to sting, but the way this team has battled back the previous two games should be encouraging.

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Don’t forget folks, this is David Bell’s first go as a major league manager. He’s going to make mistakes and he’s going to have some decisions that work and some that backfire. Tonight, it backfired, but that’s okay. We’re only four games into the season. There’s 158 games left.