by Steve Mancuso

Reds bats go silent, 4-0 loss splits series with Atlanta

The Reds and the Braves are having comparable seasons, with both teams around the 500 mark. Today’s 4-0 loss split the four-game series and moved the Reds back to even-steven for 2021.


Offense

The Reds offense entered the game as the third-highest scoring in the National League. They trail only the Dodgers and Giants in runs per game and the gap between third and fourth is large. But David Bell’s lineup hasn’t been an equal opportunity masher. Reds bats have been 20% less effective in run production against left-handed pitchers than righties. That breaks down to 10% better than league average against RHP and 10% worse against LHP.

That made today’s scoring outage less than a surprise, as the lineup was baffled for five innings by Atlanta rookie Kyle Muller. Muller, who was making just the second start of his major league career, had the Reds swinging at pitches out of the strike zone all day.

These were all swinging strikes for the Reds against Muller. Several were on full counts.

The only hit for the Reds off Muller was a pop-up by Scott Heineman that landed in short right field after tumbling out of Ronald Acuña’s glove. Any one of three Atlanta fielders could have made the play if they hadn’t been worried about running into each other. The Reds did hit a few deep fly balls, but the fast, talented Atlanta outfield tracked them down.

The Reds bats didn’t fare much better in their four innings facing the Atlanta bullpen. They managed a walk (Eugenio Suarez) and a single (Mike Freeman) off Chris Martin, Lukc Jackson, A.J. Minter, Shane Greene and closer Will Smith.

Their sad xBA for the game was a microscopic .114 with 14 strikeouts.

Pitching

Tyler Mahle was making his 16th start of the season. Mahle is putting together a strong season, rating in the top 20 starters in strikeout rate and K-BB%. His 3.50 xFIP was 15% better than league average. Today, he threw 104 pitches over six innings

Mahle struck out seven, walked one and hit a batter. All six of the hits he gave up were on off-speed pitches and none were in the center of the zone. Atlanta hitters seemed to be looking for Mahle’s slider and splitter down and away. They had little success against any other type of Mahle’s pitches.

Atlanta scored the first two runs in the 3rd, with a HBP, a Ronald Acuña Jr. double into right-center and a first-pitch Freddy Freeman single. Mahle then gave up solo homers in the 5th and 6th. After Mahle had knocked Acuña down on a fastball, the Atlanta right fielder smashed a ball at 117.4 mph to center field. It was the hardest hit ball for Atlanta in the Statcast era (2015). Austin Riley homered off a Mahle slider in the next inning.

Art Warren pitched the 7th and recorded a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts. On his 13 pitches, Warren induced seven misses out of eight swings. Warren’s fastball averaged 96.5 mph today. His four off-speed pitches were sliders. In Warren’s 11 appearances this year, he’s been a cut above the rest, with a 3.11 xFIP and 2.79 ERA. In 9.2 innings, he’s struck out 15 batters.

Cionel Perez, who was called up from AAA-Louisville this week when Tejay Antone was returned to the 10-day IL, pitched a low-leverage 9th. He retired Atlanta in order with two strikeouts. Nine of his 11 pitches were fastballs that averaged 96.2 mph and the other two were his slider. He got three whiffs and three called strikes.

Stats

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Mike Freeman | 103.6, single
  • Jonathan India | 98.8  mph, fly out
  • Tyler Stephenson | 98.1 mph, ground out
  • Eugenio Suarez | 96.0 mph, fly out

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Jonathan India | .710 xBA | fly out

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Tyler Mahle | 96.2 mph
  • Art Warren | 97.7 mph
  • Sean Doolittle | 92.5 mph
  • Cionel Perez |  97.0 mph

Highest Pitch Spins

  • Art Warren | 2822 rpm | Slider

Most Pitch Movement

  • Cionel Perez | 40 inches vertical | Slider
  • Tyler Mahle | 16 inches horizontal | Splitter

Team Expected Batting Averages

  • Atlanta | .198
  • Reds | .114
What’s Next?

On Monday, the Reds play the Philadelphia Phillies in a make-up game for one that was rained out on 6/2. In the two prior games of that series, the Reds had won 11-1 and lost 17-2. The game tomorrow is at 6:40 pm. Wade Miley will start for the Reds against RIGHT-HANDER Spencer Howard. 

Photo: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1287952175818301440/photo/2 


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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.