There was no way to know for sure the impact Thursday night’s roller coaster loss would have on the Reds the rest of the series, but it was hard not to think there was potential for an avalanche after such an emotionally exhausting finish. What seemed to be an electric 7th straight win turned into the impetus for four straight losses in San Diego, capped off by today’s 3-2 loss. Luis Castillo pitched well in 6 innings of work, but 3 runs came on one play, the third of which being unearned and the ultimate difference maker in a one run loss. The Reds were leading by 2 runs in the 9th Thursday night, tied in the 8th Saturday, and stranded the tying run on 3rd base in the 8th inning today. Reds fans are hoping 4 draining losses in San Diego don’t change the course of this road trip or season as their record stands at .500 (35-35) as they travel to the Twin Cities for interleague baseball tomorrow.
Dinelson Lamet would take the mound for the Padres today, a hard throwing righty who tends to get hitters out with high heat inside to left handers, and a biting slider to right handers. He had both pitches working early, retiring Jesse Winker and Tyler Naquin on fastballs in the 1st inning. The Reds were able to get a base runner in each of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings with singles by Joey Votto, Kyle Farmer and Tucker Barnhart. Although Votto and Farmer had impressive contact on their hits, those at bats were the outliers for the Reds as Lamet struck out 7 Reds batters through four innings by throwing a healthy dose of sliders and fastballs right past them.
In the top of the 5th, the Reds had the leadoff hitter on for the 3rd time today as Farmer smacked a 100.2 mph (exit velocity) single to center field. Castillo successfully sacrificed him over to 2nd base with a bunt down the first base line, and a runner was in scoring position. Unfortunately the Reds couldn’t take advantage as Jonathan India flew out to center, and Winker weakly grounded out to the right side of the infield. Lamet was at 81 pitches and showed few signs of slowing down. However, due to an early season injury that has seen Lamet been used largely out of the bullpen, he has only faced 3 opposing batters through the 3rd time in the order this season, giving up hits in all 3 instances including 3 runs. If there were reasons for optimism heading into the 6th, it would be Lamet’s lack of experience facing hitters for the third time in a start, which could lead to the Reds jumping on him or the Padres making a pitching change.
Padres manager Jacye Tingler elected to not find out how Lamet would do, yanking him for a left handed reliever with Naquin and Votto due up. David Bell countered by pinch hitting right handed Tyler Stephenson, who ultimately grounded out to 1st base for out one. After a sharp Votto groundout into the shift and a pinch hit Aristides Aquino groundout to 2nd base, the Reds were still left scoreless after 6 innings.
After Eugenio Suarez grounded out to begin the inning, the Reds put some pressure on the Padres bullpen in the top of the 7th. Shogo Akiyama legged out an infield single on a dribbler in front of home plate- a true “tie goes to the runner play” which was confirmed safe after replay review. Kyle Farmer was then beaned by a Craig Stammen sinker to give the Reds 1st and 2nd with one out. Nick Castellanos (scheduled off day) then pinch hit in the 9 spot and flared a single to center, giving him a hit in 32 out of his last 35 games. Unsure if the ball would be caught off the bat, Akiyama was held at 3rd to load the bases for Jonathan India. India hit a ball directly to the shortstop, ending the inning on a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. The Reds had six outs left to score three runs, or they’d be leaving San Diego without a win in four tries.
The Reds came out top 8 smoking the ball against righty reliever Emilio Pagan. The leadoff hitter was once again on base in the top of the 8th, when Winker scorched a 103.2 mph single to center field. Stephenson (who remained in the game after pinch hitting) then pulled a double down the left field line giving the Reds 2nd and 3rd with no outs, and their first extra base hit of the game. Next up was Votto who scalded a 100.2 mph groundout on a nice play by the 2B Cronenworth, but Winker scored and Stephenson advanced to third to make the score 3-1 Padres. Aquino walked on four pitches, then stole 2nd base. Suarez then hit a one hopper to the left side where the Padres once again impressively defended a tough infield play, this time by the sure-handed Machado. However Stephenson was still able to cross the plate and Aquino took 3rd, and the Reds had chipped away to get within one run, the score standing 3-2. Shogo Akiyama stepped to the plate with two outs. He continued the hard-hitting barrage by the Reds in the 8th, shooting a 104.6 mph, 372 ft rope to right center field. Unfortunately for the Reds, Petco Park is as pitcher friendly as any, and there was room for the right fielder to record out number 3. The Akiyama liner had a .910 xBA, meaning the batted ball had a 91% chance of being a hit. This 8th inning was was reflection of the series, where the Reds were in 3 games all the way into the 8th or 9th inning before the Padres somehow broke their heart. The Reds had 3 outs left to score a run.
After neither Farmer or pinch hitter Mike Freeman reached base to start the 9th, the Reds were down to their final out. Jonathan India calmly drew a walk , showing impressive poise for a rookie given the circumstances. Winker then had a chance to play hero but similar to the last three games, this was just not the Reds’ day. Winker popped out to center and after six straight wins, the Reds left San Diego losers of four straight.
Luis Castillo had a rough beginning to the season outcome wise, posting a 6.29 ERA in April and an 8.04 ERA in May. However as horrible as those ERA numbers were, a combination of advanced metrics and the “eye test” indicated there were better days coming for La Piedra. His xFIP (expected fielder independent pitching, a statistic that removes the defense from the equation by isolating only what the pitcher can control, and then adjusts for the quality of the opponent’s contact) for April and May were 4.17 and 4.50 respectively, indicating he was a victim of bad defense (undeniably true) and some bad luck mixed in. Additionally, his success is often times dependent on his fastball velocity (and thus its movement), and his fastball velo had dropped a few ticks in the colder starts, which of course wouldn’t last through the dog days of summer.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) June 16, 2021
Sure enough, he has bounced back in the month of June. His fastball velocity has returned to past levels, and with it he has posted a 1.93 ERA in 3 starts this month. The “luck” has swung for him as well, as the advanced stats say his FIP of 3.17 (comparable to an ERA scale) is well above the 1.93 earned run average outcome. It’s fair to say the demise of the Reds’ ace was greatly overstated.
Luis came out in the top of the 1st pumping fastballs, including a 99.7 MPH inside heater to strike out leadoff hitter Trent Grishham. He did give up back to back baserunners with 2 outs, but got Wil Meyers on a fielders’ choice groundout to Kyle Farmer to end the inning.
Luis began to get in a groove with three straight strikeouts across the 2nd and 3rd innings, two of which were on changeups that began inside the zone and spun right out, deceiving Padres hitters from both sides of the plate. Castillo’s changeup has only gotten more effective as he is able to set it up with his returned-to-form fastball. However in the bottom of the 3rd Castillo gave up a hard single to Manny Machado, and then walked Eric Hosmer after an extremely questionable fastball thrown right down Broadway was called ball 3. After another fastball down the middle was called a ball, Wil Meyers poked a triple down the right field line, and scored on a throwing error by Joey Votto to give the Padres a 3-0 lead. It’s hard not to think subpar umpiring got to Castillo, and to make matters worse, the double by Meyers had an xBA of .200 (20% chance of being a hit). The unluckiness and bad defense behind Castillo reared its ugly head once again.
Usually the strike zone box they put on TV makes me marvel at how often they umps get it right.
Guy behind the plate in San Diego has zero clue what a strike looks like. #Reds
— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) June 20, 2021
Castillo got himself into some trouble in the bottom of the 4th after walking the leadoff hitter, who then went 1st to 3rd on a ground ball that just found its way through the shift (.160 xBA). In addition to the xBA numbers indicating the bad luck, outs above average is the best Statcast number to cumulatively capture defense. Castillo has suffered from some of the worst defense in the league this year:
Pitchers with the most errors committed by their defenses:
7: Matt Harvey
5: Luis Castillo, Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff, Jack Flaherty, Jon Gray, Lance Lynn, Trevor Bauer, Robbie Ray, Kyle Hendricks
— Matt Wilkes (@_MattWilkes) June 20, 2021
One way to mitigate defense is to strike hitters out- which Castillo did to opposing pitcher Dinelson Lamet for out one. Castillo then served up a double play ball on low 0-2 sinker, displaying textbook execution on how to induce weak contact on the ground. He was out of inning 4, the last time the Padres would threaten against him.
Castillo retired 6 out of 7 batters he faced in the 5th and 6th innings, including strikeouts on a nasty changeup to Macahdo in the 5th and 97.5 mph high heat to Kim in the 6th. Castillo’s day was done after 103 pitches, including 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned). Overall Castillo was on top of his game, and it’s hard not to think he could have gone 7 scoreless if not for some bungled calls behind the plate by the umpire.
Sean Doolittle came in to pitch inning 7, and faced a right handed pinch-hitter in Tommy Pham. Pham laced a leadoff double to left, and Doolittle seemed to be in early trouble. However, the reason David Bell brought him in was a good one- the man gets left handed hitters out (72 OPS+ against LHH vs 126 against RHH). Doolittle retired the next 3 batters he faced, all lefties (a right hander was IBB’d), throwing 6 straight four seam fastballs.
Heath Hembree gave up the game winning home run last night in the 8th, but things would be different for him this time around. He struck out all three batters he faced, using his slider to strike out Meyers and Profar and blew a 96 mph high fastball by Kim. The bullpen did enough to keep the Reds in this one, but ultimately never got a chance to pitch again in the 9th.
Most Valuable Players
- Wil Meyers: .207 WPA (Win Probability Added)
- Dinelson Lamet: .193 WPA
- Mark Melancon: .158 WPA
- Manny Machado: 112.1 mph | Groundout in 1st inning
- Eugenio Suarez: 107.3 mph | Groundout in 7th inning
- Kyle Farmer: 105.3 mph | Single in 3rd inning
Unluckiest Out of the Day
- Shogo Akiyama: .910 xBA | Lineout in 8th inning
Highest Velocities By Pitcher
- Luis Castillo: 100.0 mph
- Sean Doolittle: 93.3 mph
- Heath Hembree: 97.2 mph
Highest Pitch Spins
- Heath Hembree: 2,910 rpm | Slider
- Luis Castillo: 2,597 rpm | Slider
- Sean Doolittle: 2,342 rpm | Slider
Most Pitch Movement
- Luis Castillo: 41 inches vertical movement | Slider
- Sean Doolittle: 46 inches vertical movement | Slider
- Heath Hembree: 30 inches vertical movement | Slider
Team Expected Batting Averages (xBA)
- Reds: .278
- Padres: .220
The Reds travel to Minnesota to play 2 games against the Twins. Monday’s game begins at 8:10 EST as Tyler Mahle faces off against JA Happ.
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