The future of the Reds is something that leaves fans constantly worried. With a team whose rebuild has surpassed the expected time period, the fear is validated. When will they finally figure it out? When will the rebuild be over? Is the team trending in the right direction? These questions are all fair and the recent three-game series is about exactly what everyone should expect from the current club.
The Weekend Set
The Reds hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. The three-game set featured everything Reds fans should hope to see. A dazzling performance on the mound, a riveting comeback in late innings and a loss to bring us all back to reality, with parts that are worthy of appreciation still. No season will ever play out the way one hopes, but this recent series is essentially how the Reds hope 2019 will be.
The goal, of course, is to win every series. Losses are inevitable, but it’s the way you lose that gives teams a feeling of confidence or defeat. The Reds showed this weekend they are fighters, whether it is 2019 or 2020, they are ready to battle.
Game One: Disco Dazzles
Anthony DeSclafani took the hill Friday night to get the ball rolling on their nine-game homestand. DeSclafani, despite injuries, is considered the ace of the staff, numbers aside. With a staff as young as Cincinnati’s, he offers a breath of fresh air when it comes to experience.
Disco has had trouble since his long-awaited return to the rotation. Friday night, this was not the case. DeSclafani tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. He added nine strikeouts to his stellar performance to kick off the weekend. The three hits allowed were spread out throughout his start as well, with no runner reaching second while he was on the mound.
Jared Hughes and Raisel Iglesias both tossed scoreless innings with just one hit each. This should come as no surprise, considering they are two of the top relievers in the National League.
Offensively, the Reds were nearly as quiet as Arizona. The Reds were able to produce just three runs. The first came from a sacrifice fly off the bat of Eugenio Suarez. The latter two came from a bunt single. Yes, a bunt single from speedster Billy Hamilton pushed two runs across the plate.
Clay Buchholz was pitching a gem of his own before making a costly mistake of his own. With runners on first and third, Hamilton laid a bunt down leading to an errant throw from Buchholz. The error led to two Reds runners cross home plate, which would help the Reds to an eventual 3-0 shutout win.
Game Two: The Comeback Kids
Game two provided the Reds with a second straight phenomenal effort for their starter. Matt Harvey went seven innings, allowing just two runs off five hits, while tacking on seven strikeouts. Harvey’s best start of the season, ironically, came after the trade deadline.
Harvey was considered a trade piece from the moment he was acquired. While originally depressing Harvey was not moved, the immediate question became what will his price be in the offseason? Harvey, who was thought of a negative energy in New York, has brought a sense of life to the Cincinnati clubhouse.
Harvey’s start will not help the Reds re-sign him at an affordable price, but the consistent positive energy in the locker room is a breath of fresh air for a last place club. Harvey has made it known he likes Cincinnati, and Cincinnati has loved him, but this start should be viewed as a mentoring moment for the young guns, not a start from a future piece of the next winning team.
The offense is what made Saturday’s game one that should have everyone on the edge of their seats. Eduardo Escobar took Harvey deep to give the Diamondbacks an early two-run lead. Phillip Ervin continued to prove he deserves a chance at the major league level, pulling the Reds within one with an RBI double. Harvey decided to help himself out with an RBI single of his own to tie the game.
David Peralta had a different idea. He clubbed a solo shot, his 20th of the year, to give Arizona the lead. The lead was short-lived, however. With a 2-1 count, Suarez wore a fastball to take first. Following two outs after that, Curt Casali walked, leading to a two-run double from Tucker Barnhart to give the Reds the lead.
After Casali, Billy Hamilton stepped up to the plate with a single of his own to extend the lead to 5-3. The Diamondbacks proceeded to intentionally walk Jose Peraza, a decision that baffled just about the entire stadium besides the skipper on the third base side. Votto, as Votto does, made Arizona pay, driving in another run to extend the lead to 6-3.
The bullpen once again did what they need to do to earn a win for Cincinnati. The Reds bullpen was not untouchable, but after Peralta’s home run, they shut Arizona down. Amir Garrett only threw 1/3 of an inning, but that was good enough for the win in Cincinnati. Iglesias did not give the Diamondbacks even a glimmer of hope. With no hits and no walks, Iglesias fanned one batter to secure the save and the win for the Reds.
Game Three: Castillo and his Costly Mistakes
The final game of the series did not go as smoothly as the first two. With Luis Castillo taking the rubber, the Reds were hoping for a three-game sweep. Castillo has been a player the Reds hope to bring the rebuild to fruition. Flashes of ace material have made appearances, but consistency has been the key.
Sunday’s game epitomized the inconsistency. Castillo allowed three runs early courtesy to a Daniel Descalso home run. Following the Descalso damage, Castillo was untouchable. Castillo retired the next 13 batters before a Jon Jay single, followed by a Paul Goldschmidt home run. The start pretty much summed up Castillo’s season. Flashes of dominance followed or proceeded by a meltdown.
It is ok to be wary of any Castillo start, because it is hard to tell which Castillo will pitch for the Reds going forward. Reds fans can only hope that the Castillo who showed up in the middle innings is the Castillo that will be in the rotation next season.
When the relief came for Cincinnati, they essentially allowed a recap of the Diamondbacks offense throughout the series. Escobar, Goldschmidt and Peralta hit solo shots to extend a lead the Reds never posed a threat of regaining.
The offense was practically silent, scoring two runs with few threats to scare the Diamondbacks. While the final game’s score does not look ideal, it is not telling of the game or the series. Castillo pitched a fine game with a few pitches that missed their spot, and the rest of the series the club looked phenomenal.
What This Series Means
This past series provided the Reds and fans with what we all needed to see. They saw quality pitching performances from the rotation and the bullpen. The offense did not quit when the game was all but over. And even in their one loss, Castillo threw a quality game, something you do not often say when a pitcher allows five runs.
In a season like the 2018 season in Cincinnati, it is easy to pick out the negatives. The positives are often masked by the end result being a loss. The Reds were able to garner two wins with a positive loss despite the seven-run score.
The Reds host the Cleveland Indians during the week. In the first edition of the Ohio Cup, the Reds took home two of three in Cleveland. The club will look to continue their dominance against first-place clubs this week. Homer Bailey will face off against Mike Clevinger to start the series on Monday as the Reds look to regain their momentum.