by Matt Wilkes

Notes from Tuesday’s Reds scrimmage

After yesterday’s home run derby, the Reds battled to a scoreless tie against the Reds in Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage. Here are some observations we made during the pitcher’s duel:

Batters

Returning from a hyperextended elbow, Nick Senzel legged out a hustle double in the second inning. Despite being fooled and popping up a slider low and away, it found its way to no-man’s land, allowing him to use his elite speed to slide safely into second base.

Kyle Farmer lined a single to left field on an 0-2 count and later stole second base. He’s been running frequently in these intrasquad scrimmages. It should be interesting to see if that continues in the regular season. Farmer has slightly above average sprint speed (27.3 ft/s) according to Statcast.

Freddy Galvis hit a pair of line drive singles back up the middle against Sonny Gray, both with two strikes. Gray hung breaking balls over the plate, and Galvis didn’t miss.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Joey Votto walked twice. He really worked the count against Gray, seeing 16 pitches in three plate appearances. Could we see another .400 OBP season from the first baseman?

After striking out in his first two at-bats against Gray, Suarez roped a double down the left-field line in his final plate appearance. In something you’ll only see in these scrimmages, the game ended with two outs as Votto was on third and Suarez on second because Gray had apparently reached his pitch count. Spenser Brown pointed out that Suarez seems to be swinging with a focus on launch angle. The star third baseman increased his launch angle substantially last year (from 14.7 to 17.8 degrees) en route to 49 home runs.

Pitchers

In one of his final tuneups before Opening Day, Sonny Gray was sharp. He threw five shutout innings (though two innings ended after only two outs) on 78 pitches, striking out seven and walking two while allowing four hits. Gray had all of his pitches working, blowing fastballs by hitters and getting them to chase on sliders low and away. The right-hander struck out Shogo Akiyama, Suarez, and Nick Castellanos twice each. This curveball to Akiyama was simply unfair.

Gray certainly looks the part of Opening Day starter, and he looks on track for a full workload to start the season based on his pitch count today.

Michael Lorenzen fired a perfect inning. The stream started late, so I only saw the last batter of the opening inning. Lorenzen fooled Josh VanMeter with a backdoor slider for a called strike three.

Nate Jones threw a shutout frame of his own, striking out one.

Robert Stephenson made his first scrimmage appearance after missing a bit of time with a wrist issue. He allowed an 0-2 single after hanging a slider but bounced back to retire the next three hitters (two via strikeouts on sliders).

David Carpenter mowed down all six batters he faced in order, striking out four. This is the first time I’ve watched Carpenter pitch, and I was impressed with the movement on his pitches, particularly the slider. He had a 1.63 ERA and 3.80 FIP with the Rangers’ Triple-A team last season. The 34-year-old is probably a long shot to make the roster, but today’s impressive outing is worth noting.

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.

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