The Cincinnati Reds (13-13) have a chance to jump back into second place tonight with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (12-14). The Pirates are nursing a four game losing streak and have lost six of their last seven games.
Game two features a pitching rematch from the opening series. Mike Leake is coming off his best start of the season. He allowed the Braves just two hits over eight shutout innings. Hitters are batting just .179 against him, and his WHIP is absurdly low 0.90. Leake has pitched three consecutive quality starts.
Gerrit Cole was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for April. He was the first Pirate to win the award in 23 years. (Randy Tomlin in June 1992.)
Cole has only allowed more than one earned run once in five starts this season. The Pirates have also only lost one game that Cole has started. Both of those events happened in his first start of the season against the Reds. The only homerun that Cole has allowed all season came off the bat of Todd Frazier.
Today’s Reds lineup is identical to yestday’s except that Tucker Barnhart gets the start behind the plate.
- Billy HamiltonÃ‚Â (S) CF
- Marlon ByrdÃ‚Â (R) LF
- Joey VottoÃ‚Â (L) 1B
- Todd FrazierÃ‚Â (R) 3B
- Brandon PhillipsÃ‚Â (R) 2B
- Jay BruceÃ‚Â (L) RF
- Kristopher NegronÃ‚Â (R) SS
- Tucker BarnhartÃ‚Â (S) C
- Mike LeakeÃ‚Â (R) P
Josh Harrison returrns to the batting lineup for the Pirates. It’s the first time he’s hit lower than the 2nd spot this season.
- Gregory PolancoÃ‚Â (L) RF
- Neil WalkerÃ‚Â (S) 2B
- Andrew McCutchenÃ‚Â (R) CF
- Starling MarteÃ‚Â (R) LF
- Pedro AlvarezÃ‚Â (L) 1B
- Jung Ho KangÃ‚Â (R) SS
- Josh HarrisonÃ‚Â (R) 3B
- Francisco CervelliÃ‚Â (R) C
- Gerrit ColeÃ‚Â (R) P
Redleg Nation’s Nick Doran wrote about the team’s MLB worst BABIP so far this season. I’ve included his table below with an additional column to show each player’s current AVG and OPS.
|Name||Career BABIP||2015 BABIP||AVG/OPS|
For those individuals performing below their career BABIP, we can expect some level of regression to their career average over the course of a full season. Regression to average can lead to big numbers for Marlon Byrd. Byrd was hitting just .115/.130/135 (AVG/OBP/SLG) through April 22nd with a BABIP of just .167. In ten games since April 22nd, Byrd’s BABIP has been .318 and his slash line over that time is .306/.359/.694.
MESORACO CONCEDES SURGERY OPTION
Mesoraco was quoted yesterday saying that surgery is an option. Mesoraco is still limited from playing the field, but does expect to DH this weekend in Chicago.
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco is still unable to test his injured left hip by squatting, which continues to limit him to pinch-hitting duty. Mesoraco acknowledged on Tuesday that he will likely need surgery at some point to repair the impingement that gives him discomfort.
You can read the rest of that article or you can go back and read what Redleg Nation’s Steve Mancuso detailed about this type of injury two weeks ago. Mancuso provided examples of players to go through this procedure. The prospect of Mesoraco’s recovery for the 2016 season sounds promising.
Short-term prospects for baseball players are positive as well. Major league players generally return to form in 4-6 months. Troy Tulowitzski (August 2014) said he felt good as new four months after surgery. He was ready to participate when spring training began six months later. Tulowitzski is hitting .321/.328/.551 as of today.
Equally important, surgery can provide long-term relief. Chase Ultey (2008) and Alex Rodriguez (2009) have avoided recurrence. Both are playing in their late 30s. When I asked the orthopedic surgeon about the incidence of recurrence, she pointed out that Ã¢â‚¬Å“hip scopesÃ¢â‚¬Â were a relatively new approach. Because of that, she explained, there isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough data yet to know about recurrence, especially for the narrow sub-category of baseball catchers.
WHEN AN MVP PLAYS HURT
The Pirates are going through a similar situation that the Reds had to endure last year. Andrew McCutchen is playing on a left knee that is less than 100%, and he feels responsible for the Pirates recent lack of offense.
The Reds are looking to keep the offense going and pin at least three runs on Cole like they did a month ago.