Game 97: Reds at Cardinals

First pitch at 8:15 p.m. ET

Phillips 4
Votto 3
Frazier 5
Bruce 9
Pena 2
Byrd 7
Suarez 6
Iglesias 1
Hamilton 8

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Cueto trade lands Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed for Reds
By Wick Terrell  @wickterrell on Jul 27, 2015
The 2004 Cincinnati Reds allowed a staggering 907 runs, finished 10 games under .500, got 386 PA from 40 year old Barry Larkin, and saw none of the twelve pitchers who threw over 50 innings finish with a WHIP under 1.30.

That same year was also the last in which the Reds organization had no Johnny Cueto in their system, something that eleven years later is again the case after Cueto was traded to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon. The reigning American League champions will hope that adding Cueto for a half of a season will be enough of an addition to push them back into the playoffs as well as be the kind of dominant starter that can put a team on its back and bring home a World Series title. And while the Reds shed the best pitcher they’ve had on their roster in over two decades, they picked up a trio of talented pitchers that all could be a part of the core of the next great Reds run.

But who exactly are Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed?

Brandon Finnegan

Finnegan is the most recognizable of the three, as he reached the majors last season just months after being taken 17th overall in the 2014 MLB Draft out of TCU. While a Horned Frog, Finnegan made 43 starts over three seasons, and as a junior posted a solid 2.04 ERA in 105.2 IP, his 11.4 K/9 and 1.02 WHIP also being elite. The hard-throwing lefty owns a fastball that can reach up to 98 mph, and that coupled with the Royals heading back to the playoffs in 2014 for the first time in decades helped make his move to the bullpen last year a mere formality. He threw seven solid regular season innings before being tasked with seven appearances in the MLB playoffs, the latter of which didn’t go so well.

His 2015 season has been a bit odd, however. He began the season in AA with Northwest Arkansas and was originally used as a starter, but he was called up by the Royals and put back in their bullpen after just a pair of mediocre starts. He was sent back to the minors almost a month later after four solid appearances in the big leagues, and he’s moved back and forth between Kansas City and AAA since then. In fact, his season and usage have been so odd that FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan pointed out that Finnegan has yet to throw more than even 62 pitches in any game this year.

At 5’11” and 185 lbs, his height and size have been called into question when it comes to determining whether he can stick as a starting pitcher long-term, but the very player he was traded for was the object of many similar concerns. The Reds intend to use him as a starter, which fits their mold of identifying young pitchers used mainly in relief and attempting to stretch them out into starting roles. Finnegan’s still just 22 years old, and each of Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and thought highly enough of him to rank him between 55 and 75 on their pre-2015 Top 100 prospect lists. He’s mainly a fastball/slider pitcher, but while he’s used his change-up significantly less often in 2015 than he did in 2014, it’s also reportedly a solid pitch.

Finnegan will report to AAA Louisville to work as a starter, and there’s hope that if he evolves into that role well, he could be in play for the Reds’ 2016 rotation.

John Lamb

Before Lamb’s left elbow popped and needed Tommy John surgery, he was regarded as one of the absolute elite prospects in all of baseball. In their pre-2011 Top 100 rankings, Baseball Prospectus tabbed him as the 11th best prospect in the game, and – for reference – luminaries you’re familiar with like Bryce Harper (1), Mike Trout (2), Aroldis Chapman (6), Shelby Miller (15), Chris Sale (18), and Freddie Freeman (20) surrounded him on the list.

A blown elbow and rehab stints in the extremely hitter-friendly AAA Pacific Coast League later, and his prospect star had effectively burned out by the end of 2013.

Since then, however, the now 25 year old has shown a bit of a rebound, and he’s continued to do it in a league that’s as offense-centric as any at any level. He logged 138.1 innings of 3.97 ERA ball in AAA Omaha in 2014 – which was as impressive from a durability perspective as from a results one – and so far in 2015, he’s refined things even more. In 17 starts in 2015, he’s sported a 2.67 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 with Omaha, and while his stuff hasn’t reached his pre-TJ velocities, it has still shown enough life to carry some solid big league projections with it.’s Jim Callis noted that Lamb has a fastball that sits 89-93 and can touch 96 mph still, and that he relies primarily on a fastball/cutter repertoire to challenge batters. The Enquirer’s John Fay reported that Lamb will also report to Louisville, where the 2008 5th round pick will jump right into their rotation, too. He’s an interesting piece to watch, since it’s hard to tell if his post-injury development and recovery has him back to his previous levels of prospectiness or if his age and guile have fueled his improving numbers. Either way, he’s an arm that will certainly get a shot in the big leagues.

Cody Reed

Reed is a mountain of a man at 6’5″ and throws a heavy fastball that can hit 96 mph. And – as Quinn Berry mentioned at Minor League Ball – he’s allowed fewer walks (26) than earned runs (27) so far in a breakout 2015 campaign.

The 22 year old lefty has enjoyed a 2015 season that has helped allay fears that his wild and hittable 2013 and 2014 campaigns were indicative of his true abilities, and the 2013 2nd round pick out of Northwest Mississippi Community College has shot up prospect lists in the process. He’s pitched to a 2.53 ERA across 96 innings split between A+ Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas, and he’s done it with a fastball/slider regimen that has received pretty universal positive praise.

Reed is easily the least known of the three pieces the Reds received, but he may be the one that’s the most projectable as an everyday starter given Finnegan’s reliever stature and Lamb’s injury history. Realistically, a strong finish to his 2015 season – he’ll report to AA Pensacola – could land the big lefty firmly on Top 100 prospect lists.

Cueto to go on Friday for KC…

Friday…July 31st…
Kansas City vs. Toronto 4:07 PM
Johnny Cueto vs D. Hutchison (9-2, 5.42)
(…are you guys seeing this? 9-2 with an ERA of over 5!?*)
Talk about the ‘cat bird seat’…a ball park that favors pitching and
one of the most stellar teams in all of MLB in fielding…

Another loss to the Cardinals. Surprise Surprise!!!!. Reds are not even in the same class as the Cardinals. Just a whipping toy for the Cardinals. Maybe one day we will be better than the Cardinals but I don’t see it sadly. Angers me it’s accepted by Walt and Bob now. And the next 5 years all we will see is who we draft in the top 5 every year and the Dreaded Future hope and a prayer will be mentioned year after year.

Iglesias pitched great game. One bad pitch at a very bad time. He’ll learn.

Reds bases loaded no outs one run on a sac fly. Cards bases loaded two outs grand slam. Nuf’ said !

0-8 with RISP. 8 LOB. Sound familiar.

Best clutch hitting team in baseball . But hey , saber metrics say they’re good hitters . Can’t score when the pressure is on , can’t win .

Would rather see him in AL…
Latest On Giants’ Efforts To Add Pitching
By Jeff Todd [July 27, 2015
We’ve heard recently that the Giants are only interested in premium arms, if they add to their staff. But Jerry Crasnick of hears (Twitter link) that San Francisco is looking at several rotation options, but remains a “long shot” to actually pull the trigger on a deal to add a major starter.

Meanwhile, the Giants have at least inquired with the Reds on ace reliever Aroldis Chapman, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The clubs have not exchanged offers, so it appears as if the discussions are rather preliminary.

While the Giants have not received the strongest work from veteran righty Santiago Casilla, or from top set-up man Sergio Romo, the club has received solid overall results from its pen. It remains to be seen how motivated they are to add a pen arm, but if the interest in Chapman is indication, San Francisco will look to the top of the market in that area as well.

Reds not settled on Cueto’s replacement (Thursday)…

By Mark Sheldon / | @m_sheldon
ST. LOUIS — The starting pitcher who will take Johnny Cueto’s spot in the Reds’ rotation and pitch on Thursday vs. the Pirates remains shrouded in mystery. The only absolute is that it won’t be left-hander Tony Cingrani.

That’s because Cingrani started on Monday for Triple-A Louisville. He was expected to be the first replacement summoned if a starting pitcher was traded. But he did not help his cause with a poor 2 2/3-inning, five-runs-allowed performance last Wednesday vs. the Cubs before being sent to Louisville.
“Once we sent him down [after Wednesday’s game], he was going to essentially need 10 days for him to be ready to go,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “And following his start against the Cubs, it makes sense to make at least one start in Triple-A, and throw the ball better than he did against Chicago.”
Cincinnati needs a starter after it traded Cueto to the Royals on Sunday for left-handed pitching prospects Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.
“We’ve got a couple of guys in mind,” Price said. “I’ve spoken to [pitching coach] Teddy Power in Triple-A and got some insight from him on what he’s seen. We’ll speak about it internally. We have not committed to anyone yet.”
Price provided no insight to who was being considered. Reds No. 1 prospect Robert Stephenson is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday for Louisville, but he has yet to be scratched and isn’t on the 40-man roster. Lefty David Holmberg is on the 40-man roster and slated to pitch Wednesday for the Bats. Holmberg, who made five big league starts last season, has a 4.40 ERA in 19 games this season at Triple-A.
Donn Roach, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs on July 13, is slated to make his third start for Louisville on Thursday but isn’t on the 40-man roster.
One very intriguing pitcher would be the just acquired Lamb, who last started for
2015 Top Prospects: John Lamb is throwing more strikes and doing a better job of keeping the ball down in the zone this season
Lamb, 25, is 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 17 starts at Omaha and is on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster. Over 94 1/3 innings, he has allowed 80 hits and 29 walks and 96 strikeouts. Before he had Tommy John surgery in 2011, he was Kansas City’s top prospect.
Other items of note from Monday:
• Lefty reliever Manny Parra, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow since July 20, has not resumed throwing.
“He still has a little bit of soreness in the back of his elbow, which is a little bit more like a bone bruise. It’s providing some discomfort,” Price said.
• Left-hander Sean Marshall, who had left shoulder surgery in May, continues to make progress and is throwing over 120 feet without issues.
“He’s feeling great. It’s really exciting,” Price said. “When we return, we can at least start discuss a potential throwing program which includes [bullpen sessions], and if all that goes well, set up a rehabilitation [assignment] scheduled for Sean. That would get us all excited and we’d be thrilled to have him back on a rehab schedule that’s leading him toward getting back on the mound.”

Top 10 defensive SS rated by dWAR (defensive wins above replacements)…
1 Andrelton Simmons 11.8
2 Zack Cozart 5.0
3 J.J. Hardy 4.9
4 Brandon Crawford 4.4
5 Jhonny Peralta 3.4
6 Alcides Escobar 3.2
7 Pedro Florimon 2.8
8 Troy Tulowitzki 2.7
10 Jean Segura 2.3

Unfortunately, I don’t believe Cozart will return to his pre-injury form. Athletes, as a rule, who suffer major knee injuries (and one that has a 9 month recovery is major) do not produce at their previous level. It’s the lateral movements and sudden planting of the feet that causes loss of performance. Reds better hang on to Suarez.

I think I posted that post more for underlining on how defensive Cozart has been, versus saying anything more. And yes, your point is very valid; will he be able to recoup based on his injury. To answer that, I have emailed Dr. Robert Clapper at Cedars Sinai in West LA. I will report any responses when and if received.

man As got a great deal for Zobrist from the Royals… I wish we could trade some of our big names and get a haul from someone… Just one of Chapman, Bruce or Frazier and the Reds are back…

Diamondbacks Discussing Aroldis Chapman With Reds
By Jeff Todd July 28, 2015
The Diamondbacks have engaged in discussions with the Reds regarding ace closer Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Cincinnati has a “huge” asking price and the chats could just be “due diligence,” per the report.

Regardless of how serious the interest is between the two sides, it’s notable that Arizona is looking into a deal. We heard yesterday that the team inquired on Cole Hamels of the Phillies, another notably available trade piece who comes with future control.

Arizona has control over current closer Brad Ziegler through a 2016 club option, but it would not be the only team that would love to add Chapman regardless of the team’s present 9th-inning situation. He’s arguably established himself as the best closer in baseball, and with another year of arbitration to go he’s a valuable commodity.

Considering Arizona’s interest in both Hamels and Chapman, it seems that the club is at least entertaining the idea of putting some impact pieces in place that would give it an outside shot at contention this year while also providing future value. We’ve heard of similar approaches being weighed by other clubs, and the D’Backs certainly do appear to have some future salary capacity to make that kind of move work.

That being said, investing in a relief piece is always a risky proposition, and Chapman will certainly not come cheap. Spending big on a closer (in both prospects and dollars) has already arguably cost the D’backs once in recent memory. Addison Reed, who was a major trade acquisition of the prior front office, has been playing at Triple-A as he tries to work out his struggles.

MLB Trade Rumors
July 28th
12:53pm: Reds starter Mike Leake is on Detroit’s radar if they choose to buy, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.

Reds’ trade talk: Interested or not interested?
John Fay, 3:48 p.m. EDT July 28, 2015

ST. LOUIS — Twitter is full of suggestions about guys the Reds should trade for. The club may or may not be interested in any of these players.

But let’s play along.

Here we’ll say why the Reds would be interested or why they wouldn’t. Hint: The first thing we look at is the player’s contract status. The Reds are looking for controllable, cheap players. (These are all names on my feed this morning):

— Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez: Not interested. Makes $9 million next year, free agent in 2017.

— Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers: He’s a Twitter favorite. Big name, flashy game. Guessing not interested. His contract is reasonable $5.5 million, $6.5 million, $7.5 million the next three years, although he’ll probably be able to file for arbitration in ’16 and ’17. That would make him more expensive.

But you have to be concerned about his numbers. He hit .270 with five home runs and 29 RBI in his last 363 at-bats last year and struck out 81 times. He’s hitting .253 with six home runs and 22 RBI this year in 194 at-bats. His WAR is 0.1.

Only way I see the Reds taking a flyer is if they think a change of scenery will help. But makeup is a huge factor for them, and Puig has had his issues.

— Brett Gardner of the Yankees: Makes sense as far as on the field. Good leadoff guy — .292/.371/.459 with 15 steals. But he’s owed $46 million after this year. Not interested.

— Miami’s Marcell Ozuna: Young, cheap. But slightly better numbers than Billy Hamilton — .249 with a .301 on-base — without the speed. Not interested. The one Twitter proposal was Ozuna for Jay Bruce. Really not interested.

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