- Marcus Hartman
Some quick hits to get us started on another late summer week in the greatest state in the Union:
1. The Cincinnati Reds won two of three games in Atlanta of the weekend, but even the loss had a glimmer of good news.
Luis Castillo was lifted after four innings Sunday because of a high early pitch count and took the loss, but he gave up two runs on four hits and two walks in four innings.
RELATED: Reds set dubious record in loss
In the shortest of his 12 starts with the Reds, the rookie showed he can battle. That is a trait that has been sorely lacking from many of the youngsters Cincinnati has taken a look at so far on the mound this season.
“They were able to foul off a lot of good pitches,” Castillo said. “I went out there and didn’t have my best stuff and just competed.”
He was battered but not broken. The damn only leaked, never gave out.
Robert Stephenson had a similarly decent-enough-to-be-encouraging-if-you-squint-hard-enough start Saturday, allowing only two runs (one earned) in five innings of an11-8 win. Scooter Gennett hit a grand slam in that one.
"It was a little hit-and-miss and (Robert) had to battle," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He had guys on base each inning and nothing came easy. He had to make pitches, and there is something to be said about that from a command standpoint.”
Friday night the Reds won on the strength of homers by Adam Duval and Jesse Winker plus a strong start by Sal Romano, who allowed one run in seven innings.
As Bryan Price has said multiple times, competitiveness in the strike zone is the No. 1 issue young Reds starters have faced this season.
That would seem to be the most important factor in how soon they can truly transition from rebuild to win mode. If they are able to do that at all.
2. In a game that meant even less, the Cincinnati Bengals were routed by the Chiefs on Saturday night.
There was a potentially big development, though, as starting safety Shawn Williams suffered a nasty-looking elbow injury.
We don’t know yet how long Williams will be out, but in my estimation this was already one of the weaker spots on the team (along with offensive line and kicker) since the young defensive ends have stood out in the preseason.
How they respond to this will be interesting. Could one of the young corners who hasn’t established himself yet end up getting a look at a new position?
Overall, the game was an ugly one from a statistical standpoint as all of the Chiefs quarterbacks put up strong numbers and none of the Bengals’ signal-callers were able to do so.
Cincinnati’s defense gave up more than 200 yards (6.9 per carry), but much of that came in the fourth quarter when Charcandrick West had runs of 27, 25 and 50 yards.
Sunday saw the Bengals release Brandon Thompson, a good indicator they like what they have seen so far from young defensive tackles Andrew Billings, Marcus Hardison and Ryan Glasgow...
3. Updating a dumb story of last week, Michigan apparently will release its football roster before the end of the month.
Jim Harbaugh’s explanation of why they waited only makes sense if you can’t think or have literally no experience in the dissemination of college football team information.
A.) Everyone publishes their roster before the first week of the season.
B.) Everyone understands it changes constantly before, during and after the season.
C.) Surprisingly enough, most webpages offer the ability to edit their content even after they are published.
D.) The roster clearly is a public record and not releasing it immediately is just being obstinate, and the explanation is a poorly disguised lie over a petty ridiculous thing that doesn’t matter.
I would still like to hear if you think Harbaugh is right about when kids should start playing football and what they should do before that time...
4. Ohio State’s preseason work continues in Columbus, including more on one of my favorite topics of the offseason: What changes will we see from the Buckeye offense?
Late last week, we met with the running backs and they talked about not only Mike Weber’s recovery from a hamstring injury but the emergence of J.K. Dobbins, a true freshman, and the development of sophomore Antonio Williams.
Plus there is the intriguing status of Demario McCall, who fits the mold of the “H” as well as anyone to come through the facility since, well, I guess Curtis Samuel.
Meanwhile, if you need an example of how multiple running backs can be utilized simultaneously (this didn’t used to be a novel concept, by the way), SB Nation provides one.
Since Meyer arrived in Columbus, I’ve been surprised how little Meyer used more than one back. They had a lot of success in 2014 using 12 personnel (two tight ends, one running back, two receivers) but haven’t always had a second reliable blocking tight end since then.
Last year, necessity caused them to use a version of 21 personnel (two backs, two receivers and a tight end), but it sort of felt like an arranged marriage because Samuel was the only reliable playmaker they had.
Can’t wait to see how things look this year…
5. Finally we have a recruiting update of sorts involving both Ohio State and a local prospect.
Wayne four-star receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith told Mike Hartsock he has made his decision.
Will he be a Buckeye, a Bearcat or a Kentucky Wildcat?
We will find out Sunday.