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MORNING SPIN (7.31)

MORNING SPIN (7.31)
By Reds Content Plus • Issue #106 • View online
In today’s MORNING SPIN:
  • Reds stand pat at deadline
  • Lorenzen activated
  • Santillan optioned
  • Reds win 4th straight
  • Preview: Mets SP Rich Hill
  • Preview: Reds SP Wade Miley
  • Stat OTD: Release extension

An uneventful trade deadline
News: The Reds did not make another deal prior to yesterday’s trade deadline. Analysis: Well, that was anticlimactic. After getting three relievers earlier in the week, the front office decided to stand pat despite other needs on the roster. The most glaring need remaining — from where we sit — is a fifth starter. Vladimir Gutierrez has not been particularly good, and there aren’t any other good options short of calling up Hunter Greene. On one hand, the Reds are still seven games back in the NL Central, which is not a small deficit to overcome with 58 games left. FanGraphs gives them a 22% chance to make the playoffs. But this is a talented team that deserves an honest effort from the front office to get over the hump.
The inaction would be somewhat easier to swallow if the teams directly competing with the Reds for a playoff spot didn’t make significant improvements. The Brewers acquired all-star infielder Eduardo Escobar. The Padres got all-star second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier. Those players will add more value to their respective teams than the Reds got with Luis Cessa, Justin Wilson, and Mychal Givens. That’s not to say they’re bad players — just that relievers have more limited value than everyday guys.
If the Reds miss the playoffs, it won’t be solely due to a lack of moves at the trade deadline. What happened in the offseason and the lack of urgency in addressing the team’s issues in the last three months will carry a lot of weight. Starting before the season and carrying into the deadline, the front office and ownership certainly haven’t put this team in the best position to succeed. And yet, this is still one of the most fun and resilient Reds teams in years. That’s why we love ‘em.
Lorenzen returns from IL, Santillan optioned
News: Michael Lorenzen was activated from the 10-day injured list prior to last night’s game. Tony Santillan was optioned to Louisville to make room on the active roster. Analysis: Lorenzen was back far sooner than expected, which is a huge boost to the bullpen. He can take care of high-leverage spots as well as pitch multiple innings when needed. Santillan was the odd man out because he has options left. That would be more palatable if the Reds were brimming with relief talent. But Santillan has looked good enough in relief that the Reds really shouldn’t be worried about designating Jeff Hoffman or Sean Doolittle for assignment.
Reds win 4th straight game
New city, same results.
Joey Votto and the Reds offense stayed hot on Friday night, leading the way in a 6-2 win over the Mets in Citi Field. The Reds are now 55-49, sitting a season-best six games over the .500 mark. Unfortunately, the Brewers won again last night. But the Padres lost to the Rockies, which moves the Reds to four games back in the wild card standings.
It took all of one pitch for the Reds to take the lead. On Carlos Carrasco’s first pitch of the 2021 season, Jonathan India greeted him rudely by sending a fly ball over the left field wall for his ninth home run of the season.
India played a role in the Reds’ next run, too. With two outs in the fifth inning, he hit a double down the left-field line. Amidst a chorus of boos from the Citi Field crowd, Jesse Winker hit an RBI single past the third baseman to make it a 2-1 game.
In the sixth, Joey Votto did what he does. The Reds first baseman and future Hall of Famer led of the inning with a home run to dead center field to extend his streak to seven games.
Votto is just the eighth player in MLB history to accomplish that feat, joining:
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Don Mattingly
  • Dale Long
  • Jim Thome
  • Barry Bonds
  • Kevin Mench
  • Kendrys Morales
He’s also the 15th in MLB history to homer nine times in an seven-game span. Kyle Schwarber most recently did it earlier this season. Before him, Josh Hamilton was the most recent player to do it.
The Reds tacked on three more insurance runs in the ninth. Against a lefty, Eugenio Suárez singled to lead the inning off. David Bell used Tyler Stephenson as a pinch-hitter and the rookie delivered with a double. Fellow pinch-hitter Aristides Aquino drove Suárez home with a sacrifice fly.
India then removed all doubt about the outcome by blasting his second home run of the day, a two-run shot that made it 6-1. It’s the first multi-home run game of India’s professional career, majors or minors.
India is the first Reds rookie to homer twice in a game since Aristides Aquino in 2019. If you’re keeping track at home, India had three extra-base hits and three runs scored. He continues to lead all rookie position players with a 2.5 fWAR this season.
Sonny Gray bounced back from his worst outing as a Red, spinning six innings of one-run baseball. He allowed five hits and a walk, but all of those came in the first three innings as Gray retired the last 11 hitters he faced.
Off the bat, Gray didn’t look like himself for a third straight start. Two batters into his outing, he allowed the Mets to tie the game as Brandon Nimmo singled and Jeff McNeil hit an RBI double. A walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs. But after a visit from pitching coach Derek Johnson, Gray struck out the next batter before getting an inning-ending double play.
Gray allowed a single in both the second and third innings, but those would be the final baserunners the Mets would manage against him.
Although he didn’t miss a ton of bats (10 whiffs), Gray was painting the edges of the strike zone with his four-seam fastball, which got a season-best 12 called strikes.
Nine of the 14 batted balls against Gray were hit on the ground, which further helped his cause. Gray’s ground-ball rate this year (47.8%) is down from his excellent career average (52.6%), but it’s starting to creep back up over his last five starts (54.2%).
Fresh off the injured list, Michael Lorenzen made his second appearance of the season and pitched a perfect seventh inning on just eight pitches. He got two weak groundouts (78.4 and 45.4 mph) on three pitches to start his night before striking out the final batter on a 98.1 mph four-seam fastball. Even in such an efficient outing, Lorenzen was able to feature five of the six pitches in his arsenal.
Mychal Givens got into a bit of trouble in the eighth inning, allowing a single and a four-pitch walk after striking out the first batter. But he buckled down and got McNeil to pop out and Pete Alonso to ground out, ending the threat.
Amir Garrett looked poised for a smooth ninth inning when he retired the first two hitters, blowing away Michael Conforto on three pitches for the second out. But Garrett then allowed a 109-mph single, a 108-mph RBI double, and a walk to give the Mets a run back. He was able to settle down, striking out James McCann to end the game.
The Reds and Mets are back at it tonight at 7:10 p.m. EST.
Preview: Mets SP Rich Hill
Rich Hill is making his second start with the Mets tonight after he was traded by the Rays a little more than a week ago. The veteran left-hander is now pitching for his 11th big-league team as he continues to go strong at age 41. Hill was originally a 36th-round pick by the Reds in the 1999 draft, but he opted to go to college instead of signing. Now, 22 years later, Hill is the second-oldest active MLB player behind Albert Pujols.
Hill has not pitched well since the league started its “sticky stuff” crackdown in June. His spin rates are way down on every pitch. In eight starts since June 12, Hill has a 5.40 ERA, 5.74 FIP, and 6.02 xFIP, which probably explains why the Rays — who are right in the thick of the AL playoff race — were willing to trade him.
Hill's 2021 stats
Hill's 2021 stats
Hill is largely a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a four-seam fastball and curveball 84% of the time. He doesn’t throw any other pitch more than 4.8% of the time.
Hill’s fastball averages 88.2 mph. It’s a high-spin offering with good rise (2.2 inches above average), but it has lost over 200 rpm over the last two months. Unsurprisingly, the results have gotten worse. Here’s how it performed before and after May 31:
  • Before: .233 BA (.224 xBA), .493 SLG (.471 xSLG), .324 wOBA (.315 xwOBA), 31.0% whiff rate
  • After: .321 BA (.279 xBA), .603 SLG (.513 xSLG), .421 wOBA (.377 xwOBA), 14.3% whiff rate
The story is similar with his curveball:
  • Before: .181 BA (.241 xBA), .217 SLG (.330 xSLG), .229 wOBA (.297 xwOBA), 25.8% whiff rate
  • After: .208 BA (.226 xBA), .325 SLG (.398 xSLG), .291 wOBA (.325 xwOBA), 14.4% whiff rate
Hill’s biggest advantage against the Reds is that he’s a lefty. The Reds have an 88 wRC+ against southpaws this season, fourth-worst in baseball. Maybe facing a weakened Hill will cure what ails them.
Preview: Reds SP Wade Miley
Wade Miley is looking to bounce back tonight after one of his worst starts this season. On Monday against the Cubs, Miley lasted only 4.1 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits and a season worst five walks. He was fortunate to only allow three runs as he gave up an unusual amount of hard contact and did not have his typical strong control. That snapped a streak of seven starts in a row in which Miley went six or more innings.
Miley has allowed harder contact over the last month or so. Since June 17, hitters have an 87.1 mph average exit velocity against him, up by 3 mph from his season average before that date. He’s also getting fewer ground balls (42.1% after June 17 vs. 56.8% before), which is something to keep an eye on as well.
Miley faced the Mets 11 days ago and allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings while tying a season best with eight strikeouts.
Stat OTD: Pitch extension
A pitcher’s release extension is how close they are to home plate when they let the ball go. A long extension can be advantageous for pitchers because it gives hitters less time to pick up and hit the baseball. The average MLB pitcher gets 6.3 feet of extension per pitch.
Here’s where Reds pitchers rank:
  • Michael Feliz (6.9 ft.
  • Heath Hembree, Tyler Mahle (6.6)
  • Amir Garrett, Sonny Gray, Jeff Hoffman, Vladimir Gutierrez (6.5)
  • Art Warren (6.4)
  • Mychal Givens, Sean Doolittle, Justin Wilson, Wade Miley (6.1)
  • Ryan Hendrix (6.0)
  • Brad Brach, Tony Santillan (5.9)
  • Michael Lorenzen, Luis Cessa, Cionel Perez (5.8)
  • Lucas Sims, Luis Castillo (5.5)
About MORNING SPIN
MORNING SPIN is a daily newsletter (Monday-Saturday) written by Matt Wilkes and Steve Mancuso. We are co-owners of and writers at Reds Content Plus.
Stats Glossary
Need a quick refresher on what a certain stat means? You can find definitions here at our glossary at Reds Content Plus. If you run across a stat in MORNING SPIN that we don’t have there, please let us know by email at redscontentplus at gmail.
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