The Red Peril Redux--Reds 6 Cubs 3

The ending for the 2019 campaign is far from written, and one clunker shouldn't erase all the positive vibes from this weekend. The Reds are also a better team than their record indicates, and they've been a lurking team on the rise for a while now. They also have inexplicably taken the first 7 of 10 against the Cubs, and if the Cubs fail to win the division for a second straight year these losses could loom large.


Source: FanGraphs

The Reds put the ball in play four times to start the game. Nick Senzel and Joey Votto hit the ball hard, but the infield was able to convert them into outs. Eugenio Suarez hit a ball in the air and it carried far enough to put the Reds ahead 1-0. Yasiel Puig hit a pop fly, handled by the second baseman to end the inning.

Luis Castillo started out even stronger than Hendricks. Cubs struck out three of the first four plate appearances. Jason Heyward hit a two out single in the second to get the Cubs offense going, but Castillo's fifth punch out ended the inning.

Kyle Hendricks settled in to retire the next five Reds hitters. The Professor ran into issues in the bottom of the third with two outs. Nick Senzel singled and Hendricks refused to give in to Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez. The bases were loaded with two outs and Yasiel Puig coming to the plate. Puig bounced a grounded to David Bote at third, for the final out of the inning to leave the bags juiced.

David Bote followed the solid defensive play with a lead off single in the bottom half of the inning. He was wiped out on the Hendricks double play ball but Kyle Schwarber tied the game with one swing. Javier Baez lined out to second to end the inning.

Hendricks continued to roll. He yielded a two out double to Jose Iglesias in the fourth inning, but was otherwise clean heading into the sixth inning. The Cubs offense went to work in the bottom half. Kris Bryant drew a lead off walk and Anthony Rizzo rolled a groundball against the shift for a double. Victor Caratini struck out and Jason Heyward hit a weak grounder to the left side. But that was enough to give the Cubs a 2-1 edge. A wild pitch allowed Rizzo to score, making it a 3-1 game before David Bote struck out.

Hendricks retired Suarez to start the sixth inning, but Puig's high fly ball, which had enough hang time to make Pat O'Donnell jealous, hit nothing but basket. Hendricks plunked Derek Dietrich's arm guard to put the tying run on base, but the Professor would record two more outs to leave with a 3-2 score.

Rizzo hit a ground rule double to start the Cubs half of the sixth. The Victory Carrot struck out again, but Heyward slapped a grounder through the left side to put an insurance run in scoring position. Addison Russell drew a bases loading walk with just one out. Robel Garcia worked the count, but struck out swinging for the key second out. Bote struck out swinging as well as Castillo escaped the jam still down only a run.

Steve Cishek was called upon and catcher Curt Casali tied the game with a single swing. Cishek continued to run into issues with Jesse Winker singling and Javier Baez's error allowing the next batter to reach. Joey Votto flew out to left for the first out of the inning. Suarez hit a hot smash that bounced over David Bote's glove, turning a double play ball into a run scoring play. Cishek induced a double play on the next pitch to keep the Reds to 4 runs.

Michael Lorenzen retired the first two Cubs he faced, but he lost Kris Bryant on balls. A slider bounced on Rizzo's foot to move the tying run into scoring position. Caratini hit a soft fly ball right to Puig to end the inning. Randy Rosario started the eighth inning and yielded a single to pinch Phillip Ervin to start the inning. A wild pitch and Scooter Gennett groundball advanced Ervin to third with just one out. Brad Brach was called upon and got a foul out from Jose Iglesias for a key second out. Brach induced another foul pop up that Rizzo wasn't able to grab. Kyle Farmer took the second chance and smashed a run scoring double. Michael Lorenzen made the non-play hurt even more when he hit a single through the right side to extend the Reds lead to 6-3. Nick Senzel flew out to end the inning.

The Cubs started another rally against Lorenzen in the eighth. Addison Russell hit a one out single and Bote ripped another single to end Lorenzen's evening. Raisel Iglesias came in for the five out save and Albert Almora Jr. greeted him by hitting another ball on a line. But this one was snagged by Suarez who then fired to second for the easy double play to end the inning.

Pedro Strop pitched the ninth for the Cubs. Yaisel Puig hit a two out single on a 3-0 pitch, but the Reds failed to score against Strop, who looked better. Iglesias retired the Cubs in order to end the game punching out the final two batters.

Random Reference

That was a clunker and one worth forgetting about at this point. And the front office did what they could to make that happen with a minor but interesting move.

The Cubs traded Mike Montgomery to the Royals for catcher Martin Maldonado. Willson Contreras is headed to the 10 day IL, but that doesn't seem to be the primary motivation for the Cubs making this move with Contreras expected to only miss the minimum ten days. More analysis to come.


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  • Like many, all I asked for was one, and Montgomery helped the most important pitch in Cubs history. It sounds like he asked to be traded and I hope he flourishes in KC.

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    A clunker for sure.
    So if he’s out a few weeks he would come back around the time Cole comes back and that’s a cool “trade” to acquire both of them at the trade deadline.

  • I'm intrigued by this Martin Maldonado acquisition.

    Is the FO talking to other teams about either Contreras or Caratini and looking to shake things up? Either way, Martin Maldonado is a solid backup catcher with good defensive ratings as far as I understand them, which isn't much...

    Or in another scenario, could the FO even be interested in seeing how Maldonado blends with this team and maybe extending or resigning him in the offseason as our backup, and then make one of Contreras or Caratini available. As I see it now, the Contreras injury isn't serious, but might be some time, but we have 2 catchers ready to go so we're fine. When Contreras returns, I'd bet we play with 3 catchers, but with Contreras playing more outfield than behind home. Recovering from a strained arch would probably be easier on the outfield grass than squatting every pitch and putting so much pressure on your feet all the time. If that's the case, Almora might become more expendable, as far as who's roster spot he gets when he returns. Then when Zobrist comes back, I'd bet Descalso will be hitting the road too.

    Regardless, something tells me there's at least two more guys on our current roster that also won't be around much longer, and probably a 3rd or 4th (I haven't even talked about the bullpen).... The clock is ticking, who's next?

  • Yeah, I’ll always be grateful to Montgomery for that pitch, and I think he could have value for someone who can use him as a starter.

    Unfortunately, he had become pretty much unusable this season, and I’m sure that his value was so low that a backup journeyman catcher seems about right.

    However, if Cubber is correct and this ends up playing a part in a deal for Caratini, then it becomes really intriguing. (I can’t imagine they would trade Contreras, but I guess they could want to shake things up.)

  • If the Contreras injury proves to be minor, the Cubs are now in a position to trade Contreras or Caratini. Caratini plays, 100-115 games for several teams, even the Cardinals with a brittle Molina. Kansas City has their All Star catcher on the verge of returning. The Cubs still have an adequate Taylor Davis at Iowa, and some interesting catching prospects coming up fairly soon.

    For an up and coming team like San Diego on the verge of a breakout season and an abundance of super prospects the acquisition of a Contreras makes them a legit challenger to the Dodgers even next season with Manny Machado and Tatis Jr and great potential pitchers. The Cubs are very good but don’t you feel that this group of players may be a little bit stale. An infusion of top prospects for 2020 and after keeps the window open longer for the Cubs. For the Cubs to catch up with the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees they need a blockbuster trade. There is no clear breakout star in the Cubs system except for possibly Brennan Davis. You have to think Theo and Jed and Ricketts Family know this and want to project five years out. A Contreras deal can do this.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    The Padres have a young highly regarded catcher in Francisco Mejía. Don't think they would be interested in Contreras.

    No thank you on trading for top prospects. The Cubs are in contention now. I don't think Theo is thinking about 5 years out. He probably is gone by then.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    Trading Contreras, for prospects, in a playoff race? Yikes. Also what is this about catching up with the Yankees, Dodgers and Astros? The Cubs are built to be a playoff they'll get there this year and have a clear path next year. Those other teams are as well but baseball is year to year. I think some changes are needed in the offseason but I'd be very comfortable going into the 2019 playoffs with one more bat in the OF mix and a lefty reliever. I don't think the matchup with LA would be anywhere near as lopsided as you seem to think it is. This business about massive in season changes to a team with a 79.8% chance to make the playoffs and a 67.2% chance to win the division is crazy. When was the last time you saw a team in that postion do anything close to that?

  • In reply to TC154:

    They aren’t selling TC unless they go on a massive losing streak. Many of us have told everyone here so they won’t be surprised, but I guess that’s trading season for you

  • In reply to TC154:

    I'm as big a Cub fan as anyone on here, but they are simply not in the same league as the Dodgers at this moment. Those teams are stacked from top to bottom with no weak spots in their offense or defense. The Cubs have a great corps, but the rest of the lineup has just not delivered consistently. They are tied with the Mets for most errors and that fact alone has to change dramatically for them to get to the Dodger's level.

  • In reply to Ronson54:

    As regular season teams I don't disagree. Obviously the numbers speak for themselves but how often have matchups played a part in the playoffs? If the Cubs had drawn the Dodgers instead of the Mets I think we would have gone to the World Series in 2015. I think the Cubs, when firing on all cylinders in a 7 game series, matchup very well with LA. I'm not handing them anything. The playoffs are a crapshoot.

  • I wish Monty the best. He got the last out on a World Series Championship. I will be forever grateful.

    He has been a misfit and downright awful this season, if we are honest. I don’t think he fully accepted his role which led to his struggles. What is further disappointing is all that a BOR starter could fetch is a bad back up catcher. Not sure I understand this one. We’ll see if this is a small move to something else.

    Brach and Rosario need to go. Not sure why we keep trotting them out there. Unfortunately they don’t have it in 2019. Happens to relievers all the time.

    We gave that one away. The Reds are playing us really tough this year. Had you told me we
    scored 3 off Castillo with Hendricks on the hill, then I would have said we won the game. I had a bad gut feeling when Bo-scalzo whiffed with the bases loaded and 1 out. That was our time to get some breathing room or even break it open.

    Bounce back game today. Go get it, Cubs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yes, the team needs to get right back on that horse. With Willy' s injury and the trade the team was not fully focused. Reds could be a problem playing the role that Milwaukee played last year, and the Cardinals are lurking. I like having three catchers. Maldonado is one of the best handling pitchers, throwing, and framing. Victor and Willson both play other positions. Descalso will be odd man out.

  • Every championship team needs a bolt on like Mike Montgomery when they win and he was one of them. Thank you sir and good luck.
    That game last night wasn’t a Cincy win, it was a Cub loss......kicked away. Ok.....a clunker happens but Bote and Caratini were terrible.
    Let’s get the next two and forget this.......

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    Yeah, that Bo-Scalzo-cia at bat was dreadful... Bote seemed WAY too anxious and The Stallion, aka Garcia, appeared over matched , probably the reason he didn't start the game,, Castillo is a really good pitcher.
    This game had pre all star break sloppy , un clutch Cubs written all over it. Lets hope it was merely a one off....

  • Best of luck to Monty. It'll take a different team, but here's his shot at the starting rotation and I hope he capitalizes on it. As for the Cubs, like everyone else, I'm on high alert for the next announcement from the FO. The plan could be as simple as playing Willson in the outfield more, an instant improvement in hitting but questionable help on defense. Somehow, I don't think that's it - there's another deal coming.

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    I hope if there is another move, that Merrifield is the player. He's the player I want at the top of the lineup. I would give up Schwarbs and Happ and not blink an eye, maybe more. Or would Theo really trade one of our catchers. This might be a good time to replenish the farm. I don't see us passing LA this year. That team is on a mission.

    I wish Montgomery the best. Vogelbach was a good get for Seattle, but MM got the last out in 2016. My heart is eternally grateful to him being a 60's something Cub fan. Hope you have much success in KC.

    Lots of piling on Bote and Caratini on twitter this morning. I'm still glad these 2 are on our team and many better games are ahead. I do hate losing to the Reds...THE REDS?! Somehow they seem to have our number. Let's get them today Cubbies!

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    You can't give up Schwarber's left handed power in season. That makes you worse and I'm conceding nothing to the Dodgers. In fact the Cubs match up pretty well with them in a series when firing on all cylinders. As far as Merrifield I'd be shocked if KC traded him.Why would they? Until someone bowls them over with an offer I fully expect them to hang on to him and the Cubs aren't in a position to blow them away with a deal.

    As far as the Reds when will our fans just concede the fact that they're a good baseball team? Their Pythagorean record tells us that they should have won seven more games than they have and just watching them should tell you that. They are the second most talented team in the division next to the Cubs. Doesn't mean they won't finish last though. Those seven expected wins are hard to make up.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    If you include Schwarber in a trade for Merrifield, you open a hole in LF in order to fill one in CF or 2B. KC is looking for MLB ready prospects. Happ, Garcia and probably Alzolay and / or a prospect or two might get it done, but other teams have a stronger farm system to deal from and the competition will be tough.

  • I don't see a Merrifield avenue. We could use him. I don't want to weaken the team or give up the prospects that the trade would require. Theo probably has a cheaper veteran rental in mind for now.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Schwarber, Nico, and Alzolay are going nowhere.

  • And neither is Contreras. They will not trade a two consecutive years all-star catcher with a legit middle of the order bat...and the athleticism to learn to play decent OF. No way. Crazy talk. Drop it.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I sure hope your right. I think it would be crazy to trade Contreras, especially in the middle of a pennant race. I can see Caratini being part of a deal now though. I just hope it isn't only for a LH relief pitcher though. I think he brings more value to the Cubs than a half season LHRP does. With Cishek, Kintzler, Strop & Kimbrell, along with Ryan finding his groove a little bit and possibly Huilzen from Iowa, I don't see LHRP as a huge need anymore
    I'm hoping he can bring a veteran professional bat if we do trade him

  • Honestly as good of a year as caratini is having at the plate he costs them behind the plate. As a former high school and college catcher I personally felt last nights loss was in large part on him (missed pop ups, poor ABs, and most importantly didn’t call a good game). I think they win last nights game with willson behind the plate, who may not be the best framer but calls a much better game. Willson also matches up well with Luis Castillo, and likely doesn’t have those pivotal rbi spot strikeouts.

    When victor has a bad day at the plate he’s just not very valuable, bc he’s just not a good pitch caller or defensive catcher as a whole. In some ways I felt this team was better with a defensive specialist like David Ross. He may have not contributed much offensively but the team practically won every one of his starts, and he was 30+ games over .500 in 2016 unreal. In some ways I feel the pitching staff has been hurt at times by this more offensive minded tandem, esp caratini with his shaky pitch calling. That’s not to say caratini hasn’t had a great season bc he has, but I’d have zero trust in him handling every day catching duties defensively if willson were out. Caratinis value really diminishes when he doesn’t rake at the plate like he has this year. Honestly I think it’s a good time to sell high on him his value will never be higher. He’ll never be a plus defender and I place a lot of value in defense at that position, despite the fact that I like caratini and how far he’s come. Just think he’s more valuable to another organization then the cubs, and I think he can be one of the headliners in a merrifield type deal

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    And this isn’t to say others didn’t contribute to that loss as well including javy. But I thought it was a rough day for victor at the plate and behind the plate

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Sorry, but I don't buy this he didn't call a good game all the time. I am pretty sure Caratini can call a better game than you as a former part time high school catcher. This guy has been a professional catcher for 7 years now. Also with this veteran rotation if they did not like the pitch that was called they would shake him off. I hope this did not come off as too strong. I do not mean to offend you but, I do disagree with your pitch calling complaints.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    That’s alright Honestly it would take me all day to get into why I don’t think he’s strong at the small nuances of catching. But overall I just don’t think he’s good at freelancing against the scouting report, such as when he’s in a deep count trying to get find a way to get a strikeout for his pitcher. He’s not a very good defender overall behind the plate, and he just doesn’t call the sophisticated game a veteran defensive catcher like Ross or maldanado does. Rossy may not me a hitter but you rarely saw many runs cross the plate on the cubs pitchers. I don’t have tons of numbers and metrics to support my theory, but I feel the front office potentially feels the same way. That maybe why they also pursued maldanado aggressively this past offseason, but they were runner ups he chose more playing time with KC. Caratinis catchers ERA is 4.67 this year and in general there’s a trend of him carrying a higher then ideal catchers ERA. He usually makes at least one head scratching mistake a game that leads to a run or more IMO. If the front office trades him I think it’s provably a sign that they took some issue with his defense, and wanted to sell high while his offensive numbers are outstanding. He really couldn’t have done much more hitting wise, so I can fully understand why cubs fans would be split on the idea of potentially replacing him. Even with his defensive deficiencies I admit it’s a risk replacing him. He’s gotten better behind the plate and hes a nice offensive weapon. But personally I place a very high value on defense and pitch calling at the catchers position especially of all positions.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I am not so sure that Caratini's defense is that much worst than Contreras. Contreras does have a much better arm which is really important for a catcher. Like I said I just don't buy this pitch caller thing.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    yeah and this isn’t to say he’s such a bad defender (solid framer) that they have to trade him or anything like that. I think if they trade him it’s mainly bc he simply maybe more valuable to the cubs as a trade chip vs a backup catcher. But I do think their lack of trust in him to handle full time defensive duties if willson got hurt certainly plays a part in their potential willingness to trade him. I just want to make it clear I value caratini, and expect a really nice piece in return if the team decides to trade him

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Personally too I think David Ross is proof that pitch calling has some value that guy won a lot of games here. Even with today’s scouting reports catchers still have to be able to read a hitters swings and react based on what they’re seeing from their pitcher as well. I think in caratinis case he struggles with these small nuances at times. But I fully get this is a complex and debatable topic though. It’ll be interesting to see what they do at the deadline, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they move caratini while his value is high right now

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Caratini had a bad game. Seemed unfocused. Probably the Contreras injury weighing on s mind. Anyway, I have catcher history as well, and actually like the way Victor sets up and calls a game generally. I had the feeling that some pitchers preferred Victor. He's a lot more quiet where Contreras seems to be jumping around more. Anyway, Maldonado will be an improvement over both defensively in my opinion. All three bring plenty to the game. Contreras is the most gifted.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think victor is arguably a better farmer, but I think willson is miles better as a pitch caller. The pitching staff has consistently let in less runs with Contreras behind the plate, and that’s been the case for multiple seasons in a row

  • In reply to kkhiavi:


  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He could be a better Farmer too for all we know.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    So THAT'S where the famous "can o' corn" comes from!

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Just so you know, Hamels and Darvish have performed remarkably better with Caratini as their catcher compared to Contreras.

    Hamels with...
    Caratini: 92.1 IP, 2.14 ERA, .231/.300/.348/.648
    Contreras: 83.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, .230/.305/.350/.654

    Darvish with...
    Caratini: 44.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, .217/.272/.392/.664
    Contreras: 79 IP, 5.47, .233/.346/.446/.792

    I can see this team functioning for the remainder of the year with 3 catchers on their roster, whenever Contreras comes back, which I'm guessing will be some time in August. Let Caratini catch Cole and Yu, probably have Contreras catch Lester, and let Maldonado catch Q and Hendricks. Maybe have Maldonado spell Caratini against teams with good base stealers, but regardless, it gives Contreras a chance to play almost every day in a corner OF spot (taking better advantage of his bat), and Caratini an occasional start at 3b. I think this just puts better offense on the field. Yes, it does kinda weakens the D a little bit, but with Maldonado behind the plate, I don't think there would be any loss in defense or leadership from behind the dish, and definitely allows Maddon to keep better bats in the lineup more often.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    IMO darvish is too small of a sample to say for sure. Remember caratini started catching him around the end of May after Taylor Davis when darvishs control got back on track. Darvish clearly wasn’t right early on with his command. And last years numbers with willson aren’t worth over analyzing Darvish wasn’t healthy or effective. I don’t really hold the catchers as responsible given yus injury issues that make that a tough year to evaluate Darvish or his catching tandems. Maybe you’re right though and Darvish is better with a better framing catcher. I can see maldanado catching him if victor is traded, and maldanado would help control the running game for Darvish.

    As for hamels I think maddon used caratini as hamels personal catcher in the 2nd half last season to protect caratini defensively. Hamels has been throwing the ball really well from the moment he put on a cubs uniform, and I don’t think his catcher has anything to do with that. I think hamels was just locked in. In general I think caratini doesn’t have good chemistry with Hendricks or Quintana. He also simply doesn’t control the running game to catch Lester. I like caratini he’s on his way to a nice career, and I don’t want to make it seem that I don’t value him as a player. My issue is just that I think he lets in more runs with his game management then people think, as his hitting is more than good enough for a backup obviously. This should be a fascinating deadline, and I think whether caratini is traded or not should tell us a lot about how the front office views him. Maybe you’re right and the front office just really likes maldanado. We know they coveted him and pursued him aggressively this past offseason. The question I think everyone else needs to ask themselves is why is pursuing maldanado necessary with caratinis success esp offensively. I think this front office values catchers game management more than some here think, even if that type of nuance isn’t obvious to the common fan

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    And this isn’t to say caratini is getting traded bc he’s such a bad defender he’s not. I think it’s more he maybe more valuable as a trade chip, then as this teams 2nd catcher. But I do think his defensive limitations would be a factor in that decision. Personally I don’t believe he could catch every day if injuries struck given his weak arm. Maybe you’re right though and they just hold 3 catchers wouldn’t be the 1st time. If they trade victor I certainly value him and would expect a really nice piece coming back in that type of deal

  • Yeah, the "calling a good game" thing is not what it used to be. With the scouting reports given today and the gameplans that pitchers and catchers are given before the game, it is dictated what is called most times to most hitters. I thought execution of the pitches was good when Hendricks was in there and then went downhill with both Ceshek and Brach. Heck, Brach has to lead the league in total distance missed from the target. I bet if you add all the distance Lester has missed the target in his many outings, it would still be less than what Brach has in his few outings. How Carat caught that one wild pitch is beyond me.

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