I know I discussed this last year but to be honest...not much has changed. At least for the better.
I have charted 12 Reds games. I've watched another 7 or 8. What strikes me most is the way the Reds bullpen staff attacks the hitters. Or should I say "approaches". What they are doing is not exactly "attacking". The starters, who have had pretty good success really work off the plate. Meaning they are getting guys out by pitching out of the zone when ahead in the count. Pretty simple theory. When applied consistently you will get overall good results. We knew Harang and Arroyo were quality guys. Lohse has stepped it up, IMO.
What I CAN NOT figure out is the sequence of pitches when the Bullpen is called upon. This is the type of thing an advance scout would notice and have posted on his team's bulletin board. Every pitcher in the pen throws nearly the exact same sequence of pitches in identical situations. The Reds bullpen and even Arroyo from time to time are as predictable as they come. I have several theories on this if you will permit me.
1) The pitchers in the pen are simply not capable of making any adjustments or hitting spots THROUGHOUT the strike zone. Maybe the talent just is not there???
2) The Reds coaching staff is not picking up on these tendencies and don't care to evaluate. Possibly they have people telling them and choose to blow it off. Big egos in Baseball. No one is allowed to know more than you.
3) The Reds advance staff (Pete Mackanin) is not able to pinpoint an accurate game plan to attack opposing hitters, therefore, leaving the Reds pitchers to fend for themselves. Pete cost the Reds at least 6-8 Wins last year in my humble estimation. Probably more. I'm just being nice.
4) The bullpen arms lack the "quality" of pitches to get hitters out. The starters thus far, even Milton occasionally, have executed well. Harang, Arroyo, Lohse and Belisle all have two "quality" repeatable pitches. Even if you know it's coming quality pitches can be difficult to hit. I just don't see that in the Reds pen. Saarloos, Santos and Coffey are so predictable I was able to guess correctly on 38 of 42 pitches during one stretch. (I promise I didn't look at the signs) If I can do it I'm sure the Heltons, Hawpes, Berkmans and anybody else that has a clue can too.
5) The Reds catchers are incapable of thinking through an entire lineup. It's not easy back there but you have to really grab hold of the responsibilities. You have to remember how Berkman reacted to your sequence in the 1st and 4th innings to help set him up in the 6th and 9th. From the looks of what I have in front of me the sequences are not that much diff't. They are not that much diff't from game to game or series to series. If EE is having a fielding slump why are you calling "pull" pitches instead of working away and trying to get the hitter to hit to Gonzo/Phillips? Granted it takes the pitcher to execute for any plan to work but at least you can TRY to call something diff't.
Watch Coffey from now on. Same approach, same sequence of pitches...Over and Over. FB Middle in with no movement. Split/FB/FB/SL/FB= HR. Stanton falls in love with that deuce a bit much but you know...you can shake it off too. Arroyo gets a little antsy and really starts pitching too fast on occasion. Someone needs to tackle him in the 6th or 7th and give him a breather.
Maybe I'm crazy but this team's overall pitching philosophy with runners on and tight jams is about as poor as it gets. I know it sounds like the obvious but the proof is in the details. Just my two cents.
BTW, Josh Hamilton walks on water.