Red Scared: Reds (67-77) at Mariners (58-86)

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

Cincinnati rolls into town to face a prospectual beatdown

Fresh off an entire weekend’s break in which they had to play no baseball whatsoever (weird scheduling move by MLB, but I respect it) the Mariners welcome the Reds to their town. The Reds brought terrible weather, and the Mariners brought fun exciting prospects. I think we all see who’s taking this seriously.

The Reds have been really good at everything but hitting this year. Really, really good! And yet here they sit 10 games under .500, despite a Pythag of 73-71. Sorry, Reds.

There’s a lot going on here, to put it gently. Aristides Aquino, who mashes baseballs Thomistically, has positively exploded onto the scene, mashing 15 home runs in just 147 PA and giving the Reds a desperately needed shot in the arm. Joey Votto has come around after a weak start to his year, but literally today he turns 36 and holy cow he’s been around a long time. Old age comes for us all, and Votto’s weak year left a significant hole in their lineup. The deeper problem there is his contract, which has four years left on it. Some collars are likely being tugged in Cincinnati at the prospect of his final years, which they really should have thought of before giving him essentially the Robinson Cano deal.

Anyway, the bottom end of this lineup is incredibly weak, but it’s been propped up recently by Aquino, Phillip Ervin, and Eugenio Suarez, who has been incredible this year. And last year. And the year before. Honestly I had no idea—so I guess this means Eugenio is essentially the Reds’ Kyle Seager.

Probable Pitchers

Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Noted Future Mariner Trevor Bauer has had a weaker year coming off a career-best, and at this point it seems more reasonable that he’s a solid mid-rotation arm rather than the ace he looked like last year. The Reds acquired him at the deadline from Cleveland, and he’s been... not great... for them, but fortunately for Cincinnati they do have another year to get out of him before he hits the open market. While Bauer’s peripherals are passable since joining the Reds, his ERA is a miserable 8.23. We’ll see if he recovers tonight.

There was a lot of speculation that Sonny Gray just needed a change of pace from the Yankees before he was shipped to Cincinnati in the Shed Long deal. The speculation was right: Gray is even better than he was in his Oakland heyday and doing it in a difficult park to pitch in. Not only that, Cincinnati locked him up for potentially four more years right after the trade in a move that now looks exceptionally wise. Gray won’t hit free agency potentially til after he’s 33 and in the meantime will anchor a Cincinnati rotation that has been one of the better ones in the NL.

Speaking of that rotation, Tyler Mahle is not yet 25 and has already thrown 245 big-league innings. He’s had a breakout 2019, not ascending to true star status but certainly reaching the “very good pitcher we never hear about in the AL” status, posting 1.6 fWAR in 113 IP on the back of a four-pitch arsenal that he has managed to fully corral this year. He doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, but he doesn’t have any huge downsides, either, and has cut his walks down severely this year. Mahle was a diamond in the 7th-round rough for the Reds, and made it from Westminster High School to the big leagues in just four years. Pretty good stuff on his part.

The Flappy Boys remain red-hot, and while they won’t catch New York, they remain firmly in the driver’s seat albeit with plenty of time left. The Twins have opened up a 5-game lead on Cleveland, so it’s likely that these three teams are going to have to settle for these two spots.

The Rockies finally blinked and won a game, just as the Mariners did not do that. They’ve opened up a 2 game lead on the Rockies for that coveted #6org spot, although the Jays have also pulled into the breakdown lane with us and remain 3 games ahead. Even the Royals look competent lately compared to us. Yikes.