Kudos to Dusty Baker for using his best relief pitcher in the eighth inning. But, sadly, it did not work last night as the previously invincible Aroldis Chapman proved, um, vinceable, giving up a lead and paving the way for the Tigers 7-6 victory in Cincinnati last night.
The first two hitters reached against Logan Ondrusek in the eighth inning, so Dusty called on Chapman with nobody out. It went like so:
- Brendan Boesch singled to right;
- Matt Young was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run;
- Austin Jackson hit a ground rule double, scoring two more;
- Quintin Berry walked;
- Chapman threw a wild pitch and a fourth run scored.
Chapman settled down after that, retiring Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young, but the lead and the game was gone by that point.
No one is perfect. And the fact that Dusty felt he had to go to Chapman in that situation probably speaks of his confidence in the rest of his pen every bit as much as it speaks to the coolness of using your best reliever in a tough spot. But no, it was not Chapman’s finest hour last night.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.