If it's possible for a team sitting in last place to suffer back-to-back disheartening, pseudo-devastating losses, the Reds did just that this weekend.
Saturday was bothersome because a sizable lead was handed to a bullpen that's emerged as one of the Reds' strengths, only to have it washed away.
Yesterday was more maddening. In part because Jim Riggleman continues to love him some bunting the way baseball writers love them some Joe Maddon, and in part because for a second straight day, the suffered defeat without using their best bullpen option.
Raisel Iglesias didn't pitch Saturday, nor did he pitch yesterday, even though in both games, there were crucial late-inning outs to be recorded that could've saved both ballgames.
At face value, what Riggleman decided not to do by keeping Iglesias in his bullpen isn't unforgivable, especially on Saturday. Jared Hughes and Amir Garrett have been good enough this season that it's fair to expect them to get three outs before allowing four(!) runs to score and Iglesias did throw 36 pitches in Friday's win.
Plus Jackson Stephens, who absorbed yesterday's L, has had enough moments this season to earn at least a shot at pitching the tenth inning of a tie game, as he did yesterday.
And it didn't help Stephen's cause that Joey Votto temporarily forgot how to play first base.
And yes, there are plenty of managers that would've held onto their closer for both the ninth inning on Saturday, or a possible 11th inning on Sunday.
But the problem for me is that Riggleman didn't even seem to entertain the idea that it might make sense to have Iglesias enter yesterday's game with it teetering on the brink. I'm well aware that the Reds had already burned through five relievers - Luis Castillo, for all of his upside, continues to frustrate with his inability to consistently go deep - but they would've had Garrett and Tanner Rainey available in the event the game lasted deeper into extra innings, and sure, on some level it makes sense during a season like this one to see if Stephens could get out of yesterday's jam.
At the same time, you've gotta do what you can to win the game. Riggelman's team played it ass off yesterday, as they did on Saturday. Their efforts are compromised when the team's best arm out of the 'pen is un-used in critical situations.
It's an issue because with Riggleman's future a big topic, the philosophies that go into his decision-making are under the microscope as the front office gets set to conduct their first real managerial search in over a decade. I have no idea what Dick Williams is looking for in a manager, but I can someone willing to manage beyond a little outside the box, doing things that might fly in the face of how they've always been done. I want someone progressive, as Riggleman was when he brought Iglesias in with one out in the eighth inning on Friday. But those moments of Riggleman's progressiveness have often been off-set with some moves that reek of old school-ness and seem confined to the box that I want Riggleman to manage outside of.
I'd like for him to not call on the bunt as much, particularly when there's fast runners on base.
Mainly though, I want someone that takes the ball from Jackson Stephens and hands it to Raisel Iglesias when the bases are loaded with one out in the bottom of the tenth inning in a game that's tied.
Here's some stuff...
Something I'll explore today in greater detail on air today, and something you'll surely disagree with, but I wrote about the Reds being open to the possibility of trading Nick Senzel for The Athletic. Read it before you call me names.
Scooter Gennett and Eugenio being named NL All-Stars - along, of course, with Joey Votto - is a bigger deal than neither player getting voted as the starter at their respective positions. Suarez's arrival was met with a giant shoulder shrug, and Gennett's acquisition barely raised any eyebrows. One guy has turned himself into a foundational piece of the Reds' rebuild. The other is about to hit a huge payday, both next season and when he hits free agency before 2020. Today, both are All-Stars.
That's pretty cool.
Was it me, or did it feel to you like there was a little too much time spent trying to determine what the Reds are doing when they called up Dilson Herrera last week?
Maybe his arrival spells the end of Gennett's time in Cincinnati.
Or maybe they just want to see if he can handle a bench role.
You know, teams do need guys that can handle bench roles.
We can decide games on penalty kicks, or to use the proper parlance, PKs, in the biggest soccer event the world. But we can't break a 0-0 draw between two USL teams?
I know I'm coming across as the soccer newbie, but the game between FCCincinnati and Nashville on Saturday night deserved a proper winner.
Knowing he wouldn't be drafted, I've been convinced for a while that there's a place in the NBA for Trevon Bluiett. Watching him drop 50 points for the New Orleans Pelicans' summer league team has me doubling down on that stance.
Speaking of the summer league, I'm trying not to salivate when I watch these.
Here's some other stuff...
I agree with this take on the Indiana Pacers.
Radio Show: Noon on ESPN1530. 3:05 on ESPN1530. 6:05 on 700WLW. Working on two guests. Might have both. Might have none. I will have some All-Star takes, a few Reds thoughts, and hopefully, you telling me why Nick Senzel should be untouchable.
(Photo: Getty Images)