REDS MORNING SPIN

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Reds Fall to Marlins, Orioles Preview, Barrero Performing, Naquin Traded

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Reds Fall to Marlins, Orioles Preview, Barrero Performing, Naquin Traded
By Reds Content Plus • Issue #294 • View online
Today’s Reds news and analysis:
  • Reds Allow 3 Runs in Ninth, Fall to Marlins
  • Baltimore Orioles Preview
  • Barrero Showing Signs of Life?
  • Naquin Dealt to Mets
Today’s newsletter was written by Kyle Berger.

Reds Allow 3 Runs in Ninth, Fall to Marlins
Graham Ashcraft got the start for the Reds on Thursday, and pitched into the seventh inning for just the fourth time in his 12 major league starts.
After allowing a leadoff single, Ashcraft got three straight strikeouts to end the first inning. He cruised through the second as well, facing the minimum with aid from a double play. The third and fourth innings provided some difficulty, as he allowed a two run home run in the third and a pair of hits that led to a run in the fourth. The run in the fourth would go as unearned, as a passed ball allowed the runner to get into scoring position.
Ashcraft allowed just a lone single in the fifth, and a walk in the sixth. He ran into trouble when he came back out for the seventh, ultimately allowing a run on a pair of doubles while also recording two ground outs. Ashcraft ended up pitching 6 2/3 innings, four runs (three earned) on eight hits, walking two and striking out six.
Alexis Diaz was brought on to bail out Ashcraft, and did so by striking out the first batter he faced. He remained in the game to pitch the eighth, retiring the side in order while striking out another.
Going into the ninth looking to hold onto a one run lead, things got rocky for Hunter Strickland, an all too familiar story for Reds fans this season. The first batter he faced cranked a home run to tie the game. He then walked a batter and hit a batter, all without recording an out, and was lifted from the game.
Buck Farmer was the next man up to try to keep the game tied. The tie did not last long, as the first two plate appearances ended in an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, putting the Reds down by a pair. A pickoff and a strikeout stopped the bleeding, but by that point the damage was done.
On the offensive side, the Reds had a solid day, accounting for six runs on 11 hits. The scoring started early, with Brandon Drury and Tommy Pham hitting back-to-back doubles in the first.
After Joey Votto was hit by a pitch, Donovan Solano came to the plate with two on and one out. What resulted was a scary play, with Marlins starter Daniel Castano being hit in the head by a Solano line drive. The ball deflected and was caught at third base, but the immediate concern was Castano’s health. Castano would leave the game, but would walk off the field under his own power.
Drury was the next Reds baserunner, singling in the third inning, but the Reds were unable to bring in a run. They got on the board again in the fourth, with a Tyler Naquin RBI groundout after a pair of singles by Matt Reynolds and Nick Senzel, and a wild pitch that allowed both to advance. Mark Kolozsvary then drove in Senzel with an RBI double.
Three consecutive singles by Pham, Votto, and Solano led to the Reds’ fourth run of the game in the fifth. Naquin played add-on in the sixth, hitting a solo shot off of a lefty. That was just Naquin’s seventh career home run against a LHP, compared to 50 against RHP. Despite the home run, the Reds would pinch hit for Naquin in the ninth inning against another LHP.
In the ninth, now trailing by two runs, the Reds made a run at a comeback. Back-to-back walks by Jonathan India and Drury followed by a Pham single trimmed the lead to one, but Votto would strike out to end the game.
Baltimore Orioles Preview
The Reds will face the Baltimore Orioles at Great American this weekend in a three game series. For the Reds, they’ll send out Mike Minor on Friday, Tyler Mahle on Saturday, and Nick Lodolo on Sunday. The Orioles’ starting pitchers have not yet been announced. Tyler Wells and Jordan Lyles would be two starters the Reds will certainly not see in this series, as they pitched on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The Orioles come into the series in fourth place in the AL East, despite a 50-49 record. The Orioles have been playing good baseball as of late, having a 15-7 record in July, including a 10 game winning streak right before the All Star Break. They come into the weekend having won three of four against division rival Tampa Bay.
The Orioles’ offense ranks 22nd in the Majors this year with a 94 wRC+. Veteran outfielders Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Trey Mancini each figure to find themselves on the trade block should the Orioles opt to sell at the deadline, and each carries appeal with an above average wRC+. The less-experienced Ramon Urias and Ryan Mountcastle have each posted above-average offense as well.
However, the true standout has been rookie and former #1 overall pick Adley Rutschman. A catcher drafted out of Oregon State in 2019, Rutschman has posted a 119 wRC+ while carrying a good defensive reputation behind the plate.
The rest of the Orioles’ offense is suspect, with each of their remaining players posting an 85 wRC+ or worse. The team seems to live or die by their seven key starters offensively, and seem to lack the type of depth that many of their fellow contenders boast.
The Orioles’ pitching staff ranks in the back half of the league, ranking 15th in ERA, 19th in FIP, and 21st in xFIP. Starting pitching is the key weakness, ranking 25th in ERA and 29th in both FIP and xFIP. Among their starting pitchers, the aforementioned Lyles and Wells are the best of the bunch, though Dean Kremer and Austin Voth have each put up solid numbers in a limited sample size. Top pitcher John Means is out for the season, having undergone Tommy John Surgery.
The Orioles’ bullpen, on the other hand, is quite good. They rank third in ERA and sixth in both FIP and xFIP. They have seven relievers that have pitched at least 30 innings, and each boasts an ERA below 3.50 and a FIP and xFIP below 4.00. If you take out Bryan Baker, who actually leads Orioles relievers with a 2.45 FIP, each of the remaining six have an ERA of 2.45 or lower.
Perhaps the most notable piece of the Orioles’ bullpen is Cionel Pérez. A former Red who was claimed on waivers this offseason, Pérez has posted a 1.35 ERA, though his 3.36 FIP and 3.83 xFIP point to impending regression. Still, Pérez has been quite good for the Orioles, and has done so in large part due to tackling his key weakness. Since 2018, with the Reds and the Astros, Pérez struggled with walking too many batters. This year, he has trimmed his walk rate to 9.6%, while continuing to strike out his fair share of batters. He has also cut his home run rate, likely in part to the Orioles’ new Camden Yards dimensions. When Pérez was cut loose by the Reds, there were some that mentioned that the Reds may be making a mistake giving up on him, and it seems that Pérez has proven that theory correct thus far.
Barrero Showing Signs of Life?
As we begin approaching the later stages of the season, much of the focus on the Reds’ organization has shifted from the non-competitive Major League team to some of the exciting young players in the farm system. Since the All Star break, there’s one player in particular worth highlighting.
Shortstop José Barrero would likely have been with the Major League team much sooner if it weren’t for a Spring Training injury, and subsequent struggles during his rehab assignment. Having posted just a .637 OPS in 222 PA this season, Barrero has left a lot to be desired at the plate.
Over the past week though, we have seen some positive signs that he may be beginning to turn a corner. Barrero is 7 for 23 with a double, two home runs, and a walk since coming back from the All Star Break. He’s struck out seven times in that span (28%), though three of those came in Wednesday’s game.
Though the sample size is tiny, Barrero is showing signs of life at the plate really for the first time since undergoing hamate surgery this spring. That’s an injury that has been known to have lingering effects even once a player initially returns, so it’s possible that Barrero could be finally truly returning to full health. The power in particular is a good sign, as it had been mostly absent with just six home runs and six doubles prior to the All Star Break.
Again, you must be cautious and avoid reading too far into Barrero’s recent success due to the sample size. However, with the trade deadline approaching, now is as important of a time as any to pay attention to Barrero. If the Reds move any of their infielders, namely Brandon Drury or Kyle Farmer, Barrero could find himself with another shot at playing time in the Majors.
Doing everything he can to force himself back into the Reds’ short and long term plans could also impact the Reds’ deadline strategy. They’ve been rumored to be connected to multiple infield prospects as part of potential deals, namely Yankees shortstop Oswald Peraza, who currently sits in AAA like Barrero.
Though ultimately the Reds may opt for the best players in a trade regardless of position, it seems likely that even without acquiring any more infielders, they’ll be faced with some decisions in the near future. Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, and a handful of others seem likely to be battling Barrero and each other for playing time and a role in the Reds’ future plans over the next few years. A continued resurgence by Barrero could help force his way back into the Reds’ plans, and help recover his stock that has seemingly fallen over the past few months.
Naquin, Diehl Dealt to Mets
The Reds made their first significant trade of the deadline season late Thursday night, dealing outfielder Tyler Naquin and minor league reliever Phillip Diehl to the Mets. Naquin, who had hit a home run Thursday in what will go down as his final game with the Reds, was hitting .246/.305/.444 with 7 home runs.
The Reds will receive teenage pitcher José Acuña and teenage outfielder Hector Rodriguez. While neither ranked among the Mets’ top 30 prospects, both had been performing well in the lower minors.
A full, more in depth analysis of the trade, the return, and the roster implications will be included in tomorrow’s newsletter.
About MORNING SPIN
MORNING SPIN is the daily newsletter (Monday-Saturday) of Reds Content Plus. Its writers are Matt Wilkes, Steve Mancuso and Kyle Berger.
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