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Three Headlines for 2017: The Cincinnati Reds

I would like to start off by thanking the good people over at Redlegnation.com for sharing my article on the Reds (albeit a critical one) earlier today. I’ve had a ton of traffic come through this evening and it is a direct result of their support. They’ve been at it since 2005, and are certainly the first place I go to find quality, independent analysis of America’s first professional baseball team.

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to run “Three Headlines for 2017” in an effort to highlight a few of the most intriguing players or storylines from each team as we head into the 2017 season. Because of the support shown from the fans of the Queen City baseball club, I’m going to start with the Reds.

3 Reasons to Believe

1. “Amir Garrett develops into a frontline starter”

This kid is going to be a frontline starter for an organization that desperately needs one. With Homer Bailey ailing and Anthony DeSclafani likely heading to the DL to start the season, Garrett is a near lock to make the starting rotation. I’m excited to see the 6’5″ lefty, who deals at a blistering pace, refine his mechanics and grow into a professional pitcher. If I were a Reds fan, I would keep a watchful on eye on Garrett’s development this season.

2. “Jose Peraza becomes a vital part of the Cincinnati offense”

Peraza is going to take over full-time duties at second base this season and he is like a Billy Hamilton, but a real baseball player.

You’re right, that wasn’t very nice, but it might be true. Hamilton is one a trick pony while Peraza is a legitimate ballplayer. Peraza flashed signs of brilliance during his rookie season (more like half of a season) and is expected to be a main cog in the rebuilding process. Peraza has hit at every level on his way to the Majors and is electric on the base paths. The 22 year-old Venezuelan should excite Reds fans for years to come.

3. “Out of the quicksand”

Take a deep breath, diehard Reds fan. The worst of the losing is over. While the club’s record may not improve much this year, there is hope on the horizon. Garrett, Peraza, Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and maybe even Cody Reed are here to guide the Reds into a successful future. No fan can stomach watching a team stuck in neutral, but this is no longer the case in Cincinnati. The Reds are moving in the right direction and they have some special young players to watch. Enjoy the season.

Check back tomorrow for a “Three Headlines for 2017” feature on the Atlanta Braves. I’ll be progressing through the Major Leagues from the earliest professional team (Reds, then the Braves) through the newest organizations (Rays and Diamondbacks).

The WBC: A Cespedes Family Reunion

Kevin Davidoff of the New York Post has an interesting story today about Yoenis Cespedes and his brother, Yoelkis Cespedes, who will be playing for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.

The younger Cespedes, only 19-years-old, told reporters that he is nervous about comparisons that are made between he and his older half-brother.

It will be interesting to see if Yoelkis is able to become a free-agent and what type of bidding war ensues given the success that Yoenis has had over his career in the Majors.

Turner homers twice to beat the Nationals, Orioles avoid the sweep in the Bronx

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers pummeled Stephen Strasburg early this afternoon, beating the Nationals 6 to 3 and sending the Washington ace home with his first loss of the 2016 season. Strasburg surrendered six earned over six innings.

Justin Turner homered in his first two at-bats against Strasburg. In the first, Turner hit a two-run home run to put the Dodgers ahead. In the top of the third, Turner took a hack at a high fastball on a 3-0 count and deposited the pitch just beyond the reach of center fielder Michael Taylor. Turner has been swinging a hot bat of late, slugging five home runs and driving in 18 over the last 30 days.


Chris Tillman turned in another strong pitching performance today for the Orioles in their 4-1 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. His record now stands at an outstanding 14 and 2.

Tillman shoved for seven innings today, only allowing four hits and one earned while striking out seven. He was backed by Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy who had two RBI’s a piece.

Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia, who was celebrating his 36th birthday, pitched into the seventh but took the loss. His record is now 5 and 8 on the year.

With the loss, the Yankees fall to 6.5 games behind division leaders Baltimore and Boston. With only 10 days remaining before the trade deadline, the status of the Yankees and whether to buy or sell is very much up in the air.

Thursday: Strasburg seeks to become first 14 and 0 pitcher since Clemens in ’86, Nats staff is best in NL

At 12:05pm EST the Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals will take on Julio Urias and the Dodgers. Strasburg is seeking to become the first pitcher to start 14 and 0 since Roger Clemens accomplished this rare feat in 1986.

Strasburg has been magnificent this year, sporting a 2.51 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. The 28 year old right hander (who celebrated a birthday yesterday) 138 strikeouts in 114.2 innings pitched this year. While there was a lot of talk about the Mets pitching rotation coming in to 2016, the rotation headlined by Strasburg and Max Scherzer has proven to be the best in the National League. The Nats pitching staff has the lowest collective ERA in the NL and also possesses the second most strikeouts.

With a dynamic line-up, the Nats are poised to take the NL East and play into October. A trade for a back of the bullpen type arm may be all they need at the deadline. Just don’t blow up the team chemistry like last year (Storen-Papelbon…).

AL Central Update: Indians and Naquin down Royals, Tigers fall to Twins

Indians 11 @ Royals 4

The Indians throttled the Royals this afternoon in Kansas City, beating them by a score of 11 to 4.

Ian Kennedy surrendered a solo home run to Jason Kipnis in the top of the first and Tyler Naquin did the same in the third to give the Tribe a 2 to 0 lead. Naquin would go on to have a career day, finishing 3 for 4 while  blasting another home run and a double in the game while totaling six RBI’s.

Carlos Carrasco led the Indians on the hill, going six innings while only allowing one hit and striking out six in the winning effort.

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Twins 4 @ Tigers 1

The Twins were able to take two out of three from the Tigers with a vintage performance from Joe Mauer this afternoon. Mauer went deep in the first inning and made a tremendous over the shoulder catch in foul territory.

The game was tied going into the top of the ninth until Max Kepler took Francisco Rodriguez deep. Eddie Rosario followed up with a two run homer in the same inning, to give the Twins a 4 to 1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Brandon Kintzler allowed to baserunners in the final frame but ultimately secured the save.

Reaction

In what proved to be a pivotal three days in the AL Central (games in July MATTER), the Indians stood tall. By bouncing back from a tough loss earlier in the week, the Indians were able to take the series in Kansas City and extend their lead over the Tigers to 7.5, and Royals to 9.

The Indians need to make a move, and if Andrew Miller should be their guy. Although the Indians historically shy away from big moves at the deadline, this needs to be the time to pull the trigger on a deal that could move them up into the upper echelon of the American League come October.

The Tigers blew a great opportunity at home here and wasted a quality start from Justin Verlander. Verlander went eight innings, only allowing two earn runs while striking out nine. The Tigers head to the South Side of Chicago for a four game set with the White Sox tomorrow. Another series like this could have them selling next week.

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Kershaw considering surgery, Fielder may be finished for the year

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts informed the media that Clayton Kershaw is considering surgery on his back, leading many to believe that he could miss the rest of the year. This would obviously be a devastating blow to the Dodgers rotation but could lead them to pursue bigger targets on the trade market in the next two weeks. Chris Archer’s name has been floated around.

Archer is not eligible for free agency until 2020, so he would certainly come with a high price tag. The Dodgers have plenty in their farm system, which was rated to be a consensus top-5 system by many of the major baseball pundits.

In other news, it appears that Prince Fielder’s season may be over. Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram reported that Fielder is headed to the DL because of a herniated disk in his neck.

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Prince Fielder by Zachary Lucy

This would be another blow to a Rangers team that has struggled of late. The Rangers have lost six of their last seven and are only four games up on the Astros at the moment.

The Daily Dish: Yelich carries Marlins, Yanks roll and Pujols mashes two

Yankees 7 v. Orioles 1

For the second consecutive night the mighty Orioles offense has been held to one run as the Yankees seek to prove to upper management that they are still in the playoff race.

Starlin Castro took Vance Worley deep in the bottom of the 2nd to give the Bombers a 2-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury tacked on some insurance in the bottom of the fifth to extend the league to 3-0.

The Orioles threatened against starter Nate Eovaldi in the top of the sixth and he was forced to leave with the bases loaded. With the score sitting at 3 to 1 when the league leader in home runs, Manager Joe Girardi turned to reliever Anthony Swarzak to face MLB’s home run leader, Mark Trubmo with the bases loaded and one out. Swarzak got Trumbo and the next batter Jonathan Schoop to pop up.

Castro and Chase Headley were the offensive heroes for the Yankees. Castro was 2-4 at the plate with a homer, double and 4 RBI’s while Headley homered.

The Yankees are just 5 games out of the second wild card spot and 6.5 behind the Orioles in the AL East. The Bronx Bombers will need to continue their winning ways for an extended period of time (really, just before the trade deadline) so their most valuable pieces (Carlos Beltran and Andrew Miller) are not dealt.

Dodgers 8 @ Nationals 4

Reynaldo Lopez (Ranked the 48th overall prospect by Baseball America) was called upon to make his first major league start last night for the Nats against the Dodgers. On the third pitch of the game, Chase Utley blasted a home run to right center field. Joc Pederson also drove in a pair in the first.

Scott Kazmir was dealing for the Dodgers. He went seven innings, only allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out eight. He improved to 8 and 3 on the year.

The two teams return to action tonight where Bud Norris will square off against Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

Marlins 2 @ Phillies 1

For the second straight night, the Marlins beat the Phillies in extra innings. Christian Yelich started the scoring in the top of the fourth by blasting a solo shot off of Phillies starter Vince Velasquez.

Tommy Joseph matched Yelich by hitting a solo home run of his own in the bottom of the same inning.

Yelich would provide more offense in the top of the 10th, knocking in the eventual winning run in Adeiny Hechavarria. A.J. Ramos notched his 31st save of the season and the Marlins continue to roll. They have won seven of their last eight.

Pirates 3 @ Brewers 2

Despite a blown save by closer Mark Melancon, the Pirates ended the game in exciting fashion.

Melancon gave up the lead in the top of the ninth with two outs and men on first and second, Hernan Perez singled to score Ryan Braun to keep the Brewers alive.

In the bottom of the ninth, Josh Harrison led off for the Pirates and blasted a shot off of the center field wall that was nearly caught by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. The relay throw went in to infielder Scooter Gennett who attempted to throw Harrison out at third. The errant throw instead went out of play and Harrison was able to jog home, giving the Pirates a thrilling win. The win brings the Pirates to within three games of the second NL wildcard spot.

Mets 2 @ Cubs 1

Noah Syndergaard, for one night at least, eased the concern of Mets fans by firing 5.1 innings and fanning eight. But this night was all about the ninth inning. The Mets took the lead 2 to 1 on a Rene Rivera single to right field, scoring Neil Walker.

The Mets then turned the game over to Jeurys Familia who came into the game having converted his last 48 save opportunities. Familia promptly walked the first two hitters and Javier Baez singled to load the bases with no outs.

Matt Szczur then grounded into a fielder’s choice with Mets first baseman James Loney throwing home to force out the tying run. Kris Bryant then stepped to the plate to face Familia.

On a 1-1 pitch, Bryant smashed a ground ball to third. Jose Reyes scooped it up, fired the ball to Walker at second who made an excellent turn to Loney at first who scooped the ball to end a wild one in Chicago.

Braves 5 @ Reds 4

Zack Cozart tied the game in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extras, but the Braves were able to pull take the lead in the 11th on an Ender Inciarte sacrifice fly. Mauricio Cabrera earned his first Major League win.

Twins 6 @ Tigers 2

Tommy Milone was brilliant last night for the Twins, going 8.1 innings and only allow two earned runs against the Tigers. The Tigers threatened in the 9th, but left the bases loaded to end the game.

Red Sox 4 v. Giants 0

Brock Holt and David Ortiz each homered to support Rick Porcello and the led the Red Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Giants. Jake Peavey, a former member of the Boston squad, took the loss. Porcello scattered four hits over 6.1 in the win.

Indians 7 @ Royals 3

Mike Napoli homered in the Indians victory over the Royals after a tough loss on Monday night. Carlos Santana also added a two run single to give the Tribe a 5-0 lead.

The Royals threatened, but it wasn’t enough as the Indians took this AL Central game. Danny Salazar struck out seven over 6.2 and improved to 11 and 3 on the season.

Rays 10 @ Rockies 1

The two teams sat through a two hour rain delay, and only one team decided to play. The Rays pounded the Rockies behind Evan Longoria’s three RBI’s and home run. Blake Snell went six innings in the winning effort and only allowed one hit.

Blue Jays 5 @ Diamondbacks 1

Edwin Encarnacion smashed a three-run homer to give the Jays the lead in the top of the third. Aaron Sanchez, unbeaten in his last 14 starts, pitched well enough to preserve the lead and give the Jays the win. Sanchez went 7, giving up six hits and striking out five. There has been talk that the young righty will be limited down the stretch, but the Jays will have to figure out a way to keep him fresh and pitching deep into September as he has been their most consistent starter.

Athletics 4 v. Astros 3

The Astros had a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but gave up two in the inning and Ken Giles blew the save in the ninth on a Coco Crisp double. The A’s got out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the tenth and won it in the bottom of the same inning on an infield single by Josh Reddick to score Marcus Semien from second base. The hit was in the hole between short and third, corralled by Carlos Correa, who took a few too many steps into shallow left before firing the ball home. The throw was a bit up the first base line, allowing Semien to score.

Angels 8 v. Rangers 6

Albert Pujols mashed two three-run homers last night to lead the Angels past the Rangers for the second night in a row. Pujols was also hit by a pitch in the head later in the game, but it did not seem intentional. The two teams finish their series tonight with Martin Perez throwing for Texas and Hector Santiago for the Angels.

White Sox 6 @ Mariners 1

The White Sox bounced back from a dreadful loss on Monday to defeat the Mariners 6 to 1. Todd Frazier hit a two run homer and Jose Quintana earned his 8th win on the season.