by Steve Mancuso

Suarez, bullpen power Reds past the Pirates

The Reds got a much needed win tonight in Pittsburgh, defeating the Pirates 6-2. The offense was led by three home runs by Eugenio Suarez and the bullpen provided five shutout innings to lock down the final score. The club kept pace with the Cardinals, who beat the Cubs and gained a game on the Brewers who lost to Cleveland. 

It was clear from the first inning that Anthony DeSclafani had fixed whatever the problem had been on August 13 [analysis]. On that night, the Pirates took advantage of knowing what pitch was coming to score 9 runs in 2 innings off the Reds starter. Tonight, DeSclafani went four innings and gave up two earned runs. Making his sixth start tonight, he was coming off a bad performance against St. Louis, when he gave up 7 earned runs in 3.2 innings. It wasn’t smooth sailing, but he made several good pitches. This was a step in the right direction. Hopefully getting back to a routine and a regular number of days off will lead to continued improvement. 

DeSclafani walked the first batter in the bottom of the 5th and David Bell went to Michael Lorenzen, who had warmed up the previous inning. Lorenzen is working his way back to success in high leverage situations. He induced a double play and recorded a strikeout to finish the 5th. But Lorenzen walked two batters in the 6th and gave up a ground ball single (launch angle 1º, distance 54 feet) to load the bases with two outs. Lorenzen struck out two batters in his 1.2 innings of work. 

Lorenzen started the season talking about throwing a 103-mph fastball and focused on power pitching driven by technology insights. Instead, he seemed to lose command while overthrowing. He gave up home runs in each of his first three appearances. Recently, Lorenzen has eased off the gas and his results have improved. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 13.2 innings. 

Bell called for Amir Garrett to face left-handed Adam Frazier. Garrett struck out the Pirates second baseman swinging on a full-count slider that broke over the plate for a strike. It was the 14th time out of 14 appearances that Garrett had retired the first batter he’d faced.

Lucas Sims pitched the 8th and after walking the first batter, retired the next three. Sims has become a dominant, back-of-the-bullpen reliever. With the Reds holding a 4-run lead, Archie Bradley pitched a shutout 9th.

[The next time someone analyzes a reliever by citing his ERA, think of Michael Lorenzen loading the bases tonight and Amir Garrett striking out his batter to end the threat. Lorenzen gave up no earned runs, but it could have been three, with a huge impact on his ERA. Lorenzen didn’t pitch well in the 6th (two walks) but because AG was great, Lorenzen got a zero for earned runs. We have easy-to-access, better stats than ERA, we should use them.]

Eugenio Suarez hit three home runs tonight. The first was a 3-run shot in the 3rd inning to give the Reds a 4-0 lead. Joey Votto, who had lined a double into the right field corner and Jesse Winker, who had walked, were on base. Suarez’ first homer went 400 feet down the left field line. Our Kyle Berger wrote about Suarez a week ago and said you’ll know Suarez is out of his slump when he starts pulling the ball in the air. 

The second and third homers were solo shots to the opposite field. Suarez raised his batting average to above .200. 

Tucker Barnhart contributed his own home run to straight away center field, getting the Reds on the scoreboard in the 3rd. It was Barnhart’s second homer in a few days. Shogo Akiyama had two walks. 

Since the Reds defense played a noteworthy role in their loss of Game 2 last night, it’s fair to point out tonight that a couple outstanding defensive plays saved 3-4 runs in the 3rd inning. The Pirates had loaded the bases on DeSclafani. Gregory Polanco lined the first pitch he saw into the right-center gap. It was ticketed to clear the bases. But Brian Goodwin raced to meet the ball and caught it lunging forward. It became a sacrifice fly and the Pirates cut the Reds lead to 4-1. After that, Josh Bell lined a grounder up the middle off Mike Moustakas‘ glove and the ball rolled to Suarez who was playing in the shortstop spot. Suarez fired an off-line throw to Votto at first, but the Reds first baseman stretched out fully to record the out. 

Most Valuable Player

  • Eugenio Suarez .271 WPA (win probability added)
  • Amir Garrett .150 WPA
  • Tucker Barnhart .098 WPA

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Eugenio Suarez 109.2 mph| home run
  • Joey Votto 105.4 mph | double
  • Eugenio Suarez 104.6 mph | home run

Highest Velocities by Pitcher

  • Michael Lorenzen 96.9 mph
  • Amir Garrett 96.0 mph
  • Anthony DeSclafani 95.6 mph
  • Lucas Sims 95.1 mph
  • Archie Bradley 

Unluckiest Reds Batted Ball

  • Joey Votto 95.7 mph line out, 78% hit probability

Luckiest Opponent Hit

  • Eric Gonzalez single, 19% hit probability
What’s Next?

The Reds take on the Pirates tomorrow in the series finale at 1:35 pm. Chad Kuhl has been announced the starting pitcher for the Pirates. The Reds are still showing TBA. That almost certainly means Tejay Antone. The club is holding back that declaration until they see if Antone has to pitch out of the bullpen today.

Kuhl throws a 94 mph sinker for a fastball. From there he throws a slider 35% of the time and a curve 19% of his pitches. From the numbers, based on their performances this season, the Reds have a large edge if this is the matchup. 

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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.

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4 months ago

That was a well played win, strong support for a struggling starting pitcher. Not as easy a win as the final score indicates, some serious jams to escape. Garret dominating again. Goodwin and Bradley showed their value as additions. Bradley has nice movement on his pitches and was unbothered by two 9th inning IF errors.

Kyle Farmer made one of the errors, but he might be the best SS the Reds have right now – no Galvis for the whole month (???) and Garcia not yet seeming to be ready, for which he can’t be blamed.