Last night the Reds-Cubs game got out of hand, with Chicago leading 13-5 heading into the bottom half of the eighth. With the game a lost cause, Bryan Price called on Scooter Gennett — who had homered the half inning before — to close the game out.
Gennett had never pitched before — he’s a second baseman by trade — and it showed. His windup was actually sort of pleasing. A low-effort affair, reminding one of a guy at an old-timers game who once threw with violence but now doesn’t want to hurt anything because he has a tee time the next day. A study in efficiency. As for results, well, not great: he issued a leadoff walk to Jason Heyward and then allowed a two-run homer to Javier Baez. He also hit a dude. Not that any of us could do any better.
For my money, though, the best part of it was his postgame interview.
He started it off as expected, talking about how it’s never a good thing for a position player to pitch because it means the game was out of hand. Then he went into deadpan mode and talked about how “I’ve definitely had better outings . . . I got too much of the plate there on Baez’s homer, missed my spot.” A minute or so later he speculated that he was hitting 95-96 m.p.h. and a reporter corrected him “no, 68.” Gennett shot back: “yeah, I don’t believe that, I think the radar gun must be broke or something . . . . that StatCast, off-the-bat speed, all of that’s fake news . . . ”
It was some seriously good deadpan:
And here’s that form:
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.