by Matt Wilkes

RC+ Recap: Joey Votto, Josh VanMeter power Reds to win

The Reds must have avoided black cats and kept all their mirrors intact, as they held on for a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday the 13th. Joey Votto and Josh VanMeter provided the offense with a two-run home run apiece.

Votto’s third-inning, opposite-field homer (104.5 mph, 402 feet) got the Reds on the board and was part of a solid night at the plate. Including the long ball, he had a pair of 103+ mph hits. Since changing his stance on July 18, Votto is hitting .291/.383/.479 with 10 double, seven home runs, and a 123 wRC+ in 193 plate appearances. Most encouragingly, he’s hitting the ball hard.

Votto has had a disappointing season overall, but this gives some hope that he can still be productive in 2020. Since July 18, his average exit velocity (91.7 mph) is 17th best among 180 hitters with at least 100 batted balls. His season wRC+ has crept up to 103, meaning he’s been 3% better than league average at the plate this season.

VanMeter’s blast (103.1 mph, 423 feet) came in the fifth inning to put the Reds up 4-1. The league has definitely adjusted to VanMeter of late — that was his first hit since Sept. 5 and he has a 63 wRC+ since the beginning of August — so it was good to see him go deep.

On the mound, Luis Castillo started the game and pitched only five innings of two-run, three-hit baseball. He walked three and struck out three before he was pulled at 84 pitches. After we talked about how he’s thrown the two-seam fastball more of late in Friday’s game preview, he turned around and featured his four-seamer heavily on Friday. Castillo recorded all three outs in the first inning with his two-seamer before largely abandoning it the rest of the game.

He did, however, have a strong SwStr% (14.1%) despite striking out only three hitters. Castillo’s slider (27.8 SwStr%) and changeup (20.8 SwStr%) each got five whiffs, as he featured the former against right-handers and the latter against lefties. The Diamondbacks didn’t put his slider into play a single time.

Robert Stephenson had a tough game in relief, allowing a run on a hit and a walk. His usually tough slider wasn’t as effective as usual; it got only one whiff in 13 uses. Michael Lorenzen threw two scoreless innings, allowing only a hit and striking out two. Raisel Iglesias threw a scoreless ninth, though he did allow a two-out double. Iglesias, too, struggled to miss bats more than usual, with only one whiff on 20 pitches.

Reds Most Valuable Players

  • Michael Lorenzen: .249 WPA (Win Probability Added) | 2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 K
  • Raisel Iglesias: .200 WPA | 1.0 IP, H, SV
  • Josh VanMeter: .199 WPA | 1-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R

Reds Least Valuable Players

  • Aristides Aquino: -.087 WPA | 0-for-4, K
  • Freddy Galvis: -.074 WPA | 0-for-4, K
  • Jose Iglesias: -.060 WPA | 0-for-3

Play of the Game

  • Joey Votto: .215 WPA | Two-run home run in 3rd inning; Reds lead 2-0

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Joey Votto: 104.5 mph home run in 3rd inning
  • Joey Votto: 103.3 mph single in 5th inning
  • Josh VanMeter: 103.1 mph home run in 5th inning

Luckiest Hit of the Day

  • Eugenio Suarez .49o xBA, 101.7 mph, 35° LA; Triple in 1st inning

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Freddy Galvis: .890 xBA, 71.3 mph, 19° LA; Lineout in 9th inning

Highest Pitch Velocities by Pitcher

  • Luis Castillo: 99.1 mph four-seam fastball
  • Michael Lorenzen: 98.6 mph four-seam fastball
  • Raisel Iglesias: 97.4 mph sinker
  • Robert Stephenson: 94.8 mph four-seam fastball


Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.