by Steve Mancuso

Notes from Sunday afternoon’s Reds game

The Reds played a five-inning intrasquad game. I missed a bit of the beginning and the last inning. The following highlights and thoughts are based on what I did see. Stop back tomorrow morning for a new post where I build the Reds 30-man active roster 10 days too early. 

Pitchers

Wade Miley, the 33-year-old lefty who the Reds signed to a 2-year, $15 million contract, pitched three innings for the Away team and faced 5.5 Reds starters. Miley doesn’t have great stuff. He gets by on accuracy and keeping the ball down. He worked fast.

Joey Votto singled off Miley in his second at bat (I missed the first). Miley got ahead 0-2 then Votto watched three balls. With the count full, it seemed like Votto knew what was coming — Miley’s cutter that he throws about half the time. The problem with cutters is they tend to stay on the same swing plane through the break. In Miley’s case, it’s an 87-mph pitch that Votto waited on and then knocked into left for a single.

Tyler Mahle started for the Home team and faced a couple Reds starters, a few bench players and a couple youngsters. Mahle’s portfolio looked familiar. Good control of the fastball. Used it up in the zone when ahead in the count. But he also featured an effective slider today. Here’s one that Miley threw to Curt Casali for a called strike. Mahle used a similar pitch to strike out a couple other hitters.

Lucas Sims pitched an inning. He looked dominant at times, with his slider and fastball. But other times Sims didn’t get his fastball where he wanted and gave up hits. We’ve talked about the huge spin-rate Sims has on his slider, so it should be a good pitch for him. It does have a lot of break. When he’s able to get it in the strike tunnel at the start, to break off the plate, it’s tough. Here he throws the slider (could be a curve) for a swing-and-miss by José Garcia.

But a few pitches later, Sims got his four-seamer up and inside to Jonathan India. India hasn’t hit much in his time with the major leaguers, but he turned on this pitch, flashing the talent that made him the Reds #1 pick in 2018.

The fourth inning for Cody Reed (he pitched the 5th, but I didn’t see it) was a microcosm of his career with the Reds so far. When his delivery is under control, so are his pitches and he’s a tough lefty. But other times Reed doesn’t repeat his delivery, particularly his follow through, and those pitches don’t always end so well. Reed is going to make the team. He’s out of options and the Reds only have one other left-handed reliever. But until Reed figures out a way to keep his delivery disciplined, his innings will continue to be a wild ride.

Batters

Shogo Akiyama — the 32-year-old free agent from Japan who the Reds signed to a 3-year, $21 million contract — had two nearly identical doubles down the first base line. One was against Mahle, the other Sims. Both were on pitches that were on the inner half of the plate. In Mahle’s case on this pitch, it was straight as an arrow. Sims’ pitch started off the plate but ran back over the inside part of the zone. Here’s the first one of those. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen both.

Kyle Farmer hit a home run in the first inning that I missed.

Travis Jankowski went 3-for-3 with three singles. He stole one base and would have had a second were it not for a perfect throw from Tucker Barnhart.

Aristides Aquino remains an enigma. He posts a record-shattering month of August only to follow it with a deflating September. Will he be one of those this year, or a combination of the two? He hadn’t shown much of the August Aquino until his second at bat today. He’d struck out the first time up. It looked like Cody Reed had him struck out the second time as well, but the ump ruled the pitch a ball. Aquino deposited Reed’s next pitch, into the centerfield bleachers. We saw last year that Aquino loved pitches down in the zone.

As mentioned above, Jonathan India homered.

Tucker Barnhart‘s single was noteworthy because it was against a LH pitcher and Barnhart has quit switch-hitting. He now faces lefties from the left-handed hitters box. This the Barnhart’s second hit off a southpaw in the last few days.

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.

3 Comments

  • pinson343

    The Reds’ biggest question mark is their bullpen. They were overall only average last year, and the only addition is Strop, who might not make a positive difference. Sims has excellent stuff, as he showed last year, but “Sims didn’t get his fastball where he wanted” was often the case last year, when he gave up 8 HRs in only 43 innings. The only lefties in the bullpen are Garret and Reed, Reed pitched well when healthy last year and the Reds can’t afford for him to regress. The main issue in the BP is Iglesias regaining elite form – he had the best K/BB ratio of his career last year, but so many painful HRs allowed.