The absence of TJ Friedl & Matt McLain showed up in Reds loss to Nationals

The Reds defense was dreadful on Saturday vs. the Nats.

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Santiago Espinal
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Santiago Espinal / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It was a messy, sloppy, terrible, no good, very bad defensive effort for the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. The Reds took a two-run lead into the ninth inning and closer Alexis Diaz couldn't seal the deal. Cincinnati lost the game 7-6.

And while some Reds fans will continue to recite the false narrative that Hunter Greene is a thrower not a pitcher, Cincinnati's starting pitcher was not the reason the team lost on Saturday. Greene did issue far too many walks (4), but his outing was extended due to poor defensive play.

Stuart Fairchild was involved in two bad plays, and Santiago Espinal was part of two as well. While Reds Country assumed that David Bell's club would miss the bats of TJ Friedl and Matt McLain, those two players are also some of Cincinnati's best defenders.

The absence of TJ Friedl & Matt McLain showed up in Reds loss to Nationals

Keibert's Ruiz's pop fly to center field during the top of the fourth inning dropped between the trio of Fairchild, Espinal, and Elly De La Cruz. Fairchild appeared to forget how many outs there were during a routine fly ball out in the fifth inning, and casually allowed CJ Abrams to score from third base without a throw.

A miscommunication between Espinal and Christian Encarnacion-Strand allowed a ball to drop in for a single during the sixth inning (it should've been ruled an error). There was also a foul ball during the game that Encarnacion-Strand should have caught, and it dropped harmlessly into foul ground. Even Jeimer Candelario had a ball shot his way that was playable, only to see it jump off his mitt.

With Friedl and McLain out to begin the season, the Reds are relying on players like Fairchild, Espinal, and Will Benson to take on a bigger role that expected. Benson has been exceptional through the Reds first two games, but Fairchild and Espinal had too many costly mistakes on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds' defense cost them a win vs. the Nats

Reds fans have lamented Jonathan India's poor defense over the years, but it would seem most of the Cincinnati faithful will be clamoring to have the 27-year-old back at second base on Sunday. India was the Reds designated hitter on Saturday.

When the Reds defense plays so bad that Jesse Winker looks like the better outfielder, you know there's problems. The former Reds slugger made a nice throw to Ruiz early in the game to gun down Espinal at home. Winker also made a nice adjustment to a ball caught up in the swirling wind to secure a fly ball out later in the game.

According to Fielding Bible, McLain (4) and Friedl (1) combined for five defensive runs saved (DRS) in 2023. The Reds certainly miss the bats of Friedl and McLain, but may be missing their gloves even more.

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