No, Brad Brach is not the relief pitcher that I want Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell to turn to late in tie ballgame with a runner on second base and no outs. But before you take to social media with your anger and frustration, let’s look at the entire picture.
After seven straight Reds batters failed to reach base following a two-out double by Jonathan India in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bell turned to the veteran Brach to get three outs in the 10th inning with the score knotted at one run apiece.
With the ghost runner, Willson Contreras, sitting at second base, Brach allowed single to Patrick Wisdom after falling behind the Cubs’ rookie 2-0. The next batter, Jason Heyward sent a 1-1 delivery from Brach into the seats in right field and Chicago walked it off with a 4-1 victory.
With the Los Angeles Angels failing to take care of business against the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds once again fell a game back of the Friars in the chase for the final NL Wild Card spot. While it’s easy to blame the loss on David Bell’s decision to turn to Brad Brach with the game hanging in the balance, that’s not why Cincinnati lost the game.
David Bell and Brad Brach are not to blame for the Reds loss to the Cubs.
If you want to take the easy way out, fine. Go ahead and put last night’s loss on the shoulders of Brad Brach and David Bell. After all, Bell made the decision to go with the right-hander and Brach promptly gave up the game-winning homer to Jason Heyward.
But, what’s more concerning and, in my opinion, is the real reason that the Reds lost the game and the series to the Chicago Cubs, is the putrid offensive performance put forth from the Cincinnati lineup.
Cincinnati scored just one run on six hits and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. When the Reds offense is humming, it’s among the best in baseball. But during this latest stretch that’s seen Cincinnati lose five consecutive series, the Redlegs’ bats have come to a screeching halt.
The Reds power-packed offense has hit a wall.
The Cincinnati Reds are second in the league in OPS (.760), trailing only the San Francisco Giants. The Reds are second in batting average (.250) and slugging percentage (.431) and third in on-base percentage (.329). This is a good hitting team.
But, over the last month, the Cincinnati offense has cratered. In the last 30 days, the Reds are seventh in the league in OPS (.738) and 10th in batting average (.233) and on-base percentage (.305).
The Redlegs are still racking up extra base hits, ranking 4th in doubles and home runs over the last month. But the Reds have the third-most strikeouts in the league during that same timeframe, and have grounded into 22 double plays during the last month of play.
The Cincinnati Reds have lost 10 of their last 15 games and scored one run or fewer in six of those 15 games. The Reds have also had four one-run losses during that span and just a single one-run victory.
Again, you can lay last night’s loss at the feet of David Bell and Brad Brach; they undoubtedly played a role in last night’s failure. But the combination of Vladimir Gutierrez, Luis Cessa, Tony Santillan, and Mychal Givens gave Cincinnati a chance to win the game, allowing just one run on two hits.
With Michael Lorenzen having pitched in the previous two games, and Lucas Sims unavailable, David Bell didn’t have many options. Do you really want Amir Garrett coming into the game in that situation? I don’t. Jeff Hoffman was certainly an option as well, and had the game continued past the 10th inning, we may have seen the former Rockies’ hurler enter the game.