After a dismal start to the 2018 season, the Reds did what felt impossible. Baseball was fun in Cincinnati. The Reds were one of the hottest teams after only winning three of their first 21. Winning was a nice change of pace, but it’s back to reality in the Queen City. The Reds have cooled down and are playing mediocre baseball over the last few weeks.
Why Reality Struck
The main reasons the Reds have been losing this year are because of pitching and injuries. The pitching has been consistently bad this season, at least as far as the rotation goes. For a short period, it appeared the starters had it figured it out, but have regressed to their previous form. If the Reds hope to compete in 2019, the young starters need to reach the potential the Reds hope for.
The other factor is the injuries. At the start of the season, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler missed time, two key bats for the Reds. During their recent stretch of average baseball, Joey Votto, Jesse Winker and Schebler have been injured. Scooter Gennett was in a funk batting just over .250 in his last 30 games, but over the last two weeks has begun to find his swing again. The offense playing worse than usual should not be a concern for the Reds, but it’s clear the hitting drastically changes when missing any big bats.
Between the pitching and missing offense, the Reds have now lost three series in a row, the latest at the hands of the New York Mets. The Reds have not even lost back to back series since June 5-10, so losing three in a row gives everyone the feeling the old Reds are back. Cincinnati faced two aces with a depleted lineup so no need to fret over this stretch. Outside of game three, the Reds played decent baseball as well.
Game One: Bailey Back to Form, Sadly
In game one, Homer Bailey took the hill. Bailey has not been a fan favorite since signing his six-year $105 million dollar contract in 2014. In his last two starts, Bailey has gone 6 2/3 and then 8 innings, allowing only two runs in each to everyone’s surprise. In New York, the old Bailey returned.
Bailey lasted just 3 1/3 innings, getting shelled for 11 hits for five runs. The bullpen did what they do best and for the most part, shut the Mets down. Keury Mella, pitching in just his fourth major league game, threw two innings, allowing just a home run to a hot Jeff McNeil and hitting another batter. Jared Hughes and Raisel Iglesias both threw scoreless innings, showing why they are one of the best late-inning pitchers in the game.
Offensively, the Reds took a while to jump out of the gate. Facing Noah Syndergaard is no easy task and he proved why. Syndergaard tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings before the Reds were able to crack him, with Jose Peraza putting the Reds on the board. After Syndergaard was yanked, they were able to tag the bullpen for another three runs.
Unfortunately, the scoring halted at four in the seventh, leaving the Reds with two more chances to tie it up. Scoring two runs is not the hardest of tasks, but the Reds were unable to even have another player reach first, ending the game 6-4.
Game Two: Romano Rights the Ship
In game two, the Reds wasted no time making noise. Gennett opened up the scoring in the first with an RBI single to center. The Reds thought they had their second run when Suarez sent a ball to center scoring Gennett, but after a review, it was correctly called a ground-rule double. Phillip Ervin immediately drove Gennett in with a sacrifice fly in the following at-bat, which was then followed by an RBI single from Tucker Barnhart.
The Mets soon answered in the second when Jose Bautista drove in Brandon Nimmo, but that was the only offense the Mets could muster up. Sal Romano was nearly lights out in his six innings on the mound, allowing just two hits and three walks, while striking out five and allowing only the one run.
Romano hopes to be a part of the Reds’ future and the Reds hope the same. He does not have the hype of Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, but he has shown flashes of brilliance, including Tuesday.
Hughes was once again dominant in relief with a scoreless inning. David Hernandez followed suit with a scoreless inning of his own. Amir Garrett did not have a perfect inning, but it was good enough to close the game. Ervin and former Met Dilson Herrera both had home runs of their own in the third and ninth inning.
Game Three: Stephenson Back in the Bigs
Game three was the highly anticipated game for the Reds. The demand for Robert Stephenson to get his third shot in the majors was high, and Wednesday he got his shot. As the saying goes, walks will haunt, and indeed they did. Stephenson walked five batters in his four innings, allowing three runs as well in the rubber match. Despite the poor start, he should continue to get major league starts until season’s end. It is his last shot with Cincinnati, and with the team out of playoff contention, they need to ride it out.
Michael Lorenzen had an unusual poor outing in relief, allowing two runs in just 1 2/3 innings. Wandy Peralta threw a scoreless inning, but allowed two walks, before Keury Mella hoped to build on his last effort. In his fifth game ever, the Mets were not as kind. Mella walked his first batter in the seventh, but was able to finish the inning. The eighth did not go as well. Mella recorded two outs, but walked two batters before allowing back to back doubles to extend New York’s lead to eight. Mella was lifted for Ervin, yes Phillip Ervin, to record the final out in the eighth.
Jacob DeGrom built on his Cy Young season, to no one’s surprise. DeGrom shut the Reds out for six innings on just four hits. The Reds were able to collect three more hits throughout the game, but could never string them together to plate a run. The Reds were shut out for the seventh time this season, and the first time since May 19.
Keep Your Head Up Cincinnati
The three-series skid is tough to watch. Not having our star players or highly touted prospects makes it a bit tougher, but the concern should not be as high as people are making it seem. The offense still remains in the top five in the National League despite their poor start and bevy of injuries. The concern going forward should be the pitching and how the front office handles the players they have and the free agent starters that will be available in the offseason.
The Reds hope that their pitching will find some sort of consistency in the last two months and it starts Friday with Anthony DeSclafani against the Diamondbacks. Matt Harvey and Castillo will make the starts the following days. Votto will return to the lineup Friday night as the Reds look to win their first series since July 29.
“From Our Haus to Yours”