The Jays start a three-game series with the Cinncinati Reds today at Rogers Centre.
The Reds are 10-26, in fifth place in the NL Central. But they have been playing better baseball of late.
They are fourth from the bottom in the NL in runs scored per game at 4.06. And dead last in the NL in runs allowed per game at 5.83. It would be nice if the Jays could bring that number up, but I’ve little faith in our offense lately.
I sent some questions to Wick Terrell manager of Red Reporter, SB Nation’d fine Reds site.
The Reds owner made headlines with “Where you going to go?” (if there ever was a slogan built for a tee shirt, that’s it). What has been Reds fan's reaction to that?
Apologies if this turns into a rant, but...it’s probably going to!
The hashtag #SellTheTeamBob - in reference to Bob Castellini, the team’s majority owner - had already begun to trend before his son, Phil, stuck his foot in his mouth with those comments. It was the austerity of the winter - giving away Wade Miley and Tucker Barnhart before they so much had to buy out an option, letting Nick Castellanos walk, etc. - that brought out the pitchforks and torches, and Phil’s comments only lit it ablaze.
Reds fans desperately want this team to succeed, and it’s a latent baseball town that got to watch their other professional team damn near win the Super Bowl after a similarly futile few decades. I think that has all wound things up to the point where being ‘fed up’ is just about as big of an understatement as there can be.
27 years without so much as a playoff series victory, 15 years of this same ownership’s fumbling, and a second rebuild since 2015 with nothing in between to show for it, and Phil’s got the audacity to assume Reds fans are just meat who’ll show up regardless? Man oh man, what an awful excuse for how to run a team.
I’m obligated to ask about Joey Votto (if I want to keep my passport). He had a very slow start to the season (and then missed time with Covid). Why wasn’t he hitting? Is he a Hall of Famer?
He’s a Hall of Famer, full stop. The rate stats are as elite as they can be, as is the black type, and hopefully, the types of BBWAA old-guard who’d hold arby-eyes against him won’t be around to vote for him when his time is up.
That said, the start to his season was abysmal. C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic wrote extensively about how, in his search for new bats (in part due to the waning availability of ash bats), and detailed how he’d adopted the ‘hockey puck’ knob for the first time to begin this year. I don’t know if that’s 100% behind why Votto struggled to start - he’s been more of a slow-starter of late anyway - but it sure had him looking out of sorts.
He’s back to the old bats, and hopefully back to the resurgent Votto from 2021 who was one of the most elite power hitters in the game again.
I see former Blue Jay Brandon Drury is on your team. How is he doing? He wasn’t exactly loved here.
He’s been great! I wrote about him last week, in fact, with the requisite small sample size warning in place. The only problem, I think, is that he’s not supposed to even be playing at all, but he is
With Jonathan India out, Votto out, Mike Moustakas out (earlier), and both Donovan Solano & Jose Barrero still yet to make an appearance this year due to serious injuries, it’s fallen to Drury to man the infield, and he’s admittedly taken the opportunity and run with it. That said, I’m really looking forward to getting Votto, India, Barrero, and Solano back in the mix.
Can you give me a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays will be facing (and, if our season continues as it has been going, will suddenly look like Cy Young candidates)?
Luis Castillo goes Friday, and from 2019-2021, FanGraphs rated him as the 10th best pitcher (by fWAR) in all of baseball. He missed the first few weeks of 2022 with a knock (who didn’t on this team, honestly?), and has gradually been rounding into form. When right, he’s got a nearly unmatched combo of 98 mph heat and a change-up that sheds a full 10 mph off that despite looking tunnelled perfectly. He’s the ace.
Hunter Greene, former #2 overall draftee, goes Saturday, and is fresh off 7+ IP of no-hit ball in a game where the Reds held Pittsburgh without a hit and still lost. 2022, y’all. Anyway, he’s got 102 mph heat and a developing slider that looked like his best pitch last time out, and while he’s been very homer-prone so far, he’s 100% the future of this organization in a way we’ve not seen in any other arm perhaps ever. (/crosses fingers, toes, legs, eyes, arms, etc.)
Sunday it’s Connor Overton, who I had never once written about, read about, seen pitch, or considered aside from recognizing his name as of a month ago. That said, he’s been incredible so far this year, even if it’s with stuff that makes you immediately say this isn’t going to work much longer. He hits spots, doesn’t nibble, and that’s worked for him this year...so far.
I see the Reds are 7-4 in the last 11 games. Are they a better team than they looked early in the season or is this just a blip?
They’re a better team. They were absolutely decimated to start the year, and while they still are, to an extent, they aren’t as bad as that. They’ve also been able to feast on the Pirates and Guardians for much of that, and got to play a good bit of that at home after starting the year with a brual 11 of 13 games on the road.
(They still aren’t a good team, I’ll assure you.)
Tyler Stephenson has had a terrific start to the season. He must be a lot of fun to watch. Are there any other Reds’ prospects that you are likely to see this year?
Another former 1st round pick who has gradually become the brightest part of this club. At 6’5” and as a high school drafted catcher, we knew it would take awhile for him to develop, but develop he has and he’s beginning to tap into the power he’s always had but never really used. It’s been tremendous.
Jose Barrero is the other name that came to mind here, and after having surgery to repair a broken hamate bone, he’s nearing a return. No longer a rookie by all standards, he was still considered one by Baseball America prior to this year, and was ranked higher than each of Greene, Nick Lodolo, and the rest of the top prospects in the system. Whether he ends up as a SS or in CF, his combo of elite athleticism and developing power has me giddy about what he’ll bring to the Reds when back.
If the Red have a late-inning lead, who are your setup men and closer? Do you feel confident in their ability to hold a lead? I see former Jays prospect Jeff Hoffman has been throwing out of the bullpen. How is he doing?
Oh man, I honestly don’t know. It changes by the day with Lucas Sims out, and even with Sims around it was a day to day rotation. Alexis Diaz has mostly been filthy so far, but he’s a rookie with very little experience on which to bank. Tony Santillan has some filthy stuff, too, and will likely get that task from time to time. It’ll be a mix of who’s healthy and rested with as few defined roles down there as I’ve ever seen.
Hoffman, meanwhile, has mostly been used in long relief and has looked about as good as we could hope. His stuff has always had killer movement. It’s just that most of the time, neither he nor anyone else knew where it’d go when it left his hand. That’s been better this year and hopefully will continue to be.
Anything else we should know about the Reds?
A lineup of Jonathan India, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Senzel, Donovan Solano, Jose Barrero, and Tucker Barnhart with Sonny Gray or Mike Minor on the mound would be pretty cool most days. In the meantime, you’re going to get to see what’s left this weekend, instead - albeit with Votto hopefully back, fresh, and ready to mash for his tried and truest supporters.
Thank you Wick. I’ll wish your team luck after they head out Monday, but not before. I need to see some wins, and I’m hoping the Reds oblige.