If you like your baseball full of run scoring and pitching changes, odds are this game will make you purr. Better yet, the Reds appear to have the edge in starting pitching and the hitting match-up. That’s not something you normally can say when Jason Marquis is pitching for the home town team. And check out Bryan Price’s spiffy new lineup!
It’s raining in Cincinnati right now. But according to the latest Weather Channel forecast, it should stop at least an hour before the game and stay away the rest of the afternoon. If you don’t have plans, head down to the ball park, support the Reds, and celebrate Memorial Day with the national pastime. First pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET.
All stats are 2015 actuals (not made up, promise):
DespiteÃ‚Â hintsÃ‚Â dropped by manager Bryan Price a few days ago (and just plain old common sense), Jason Marquis has made it to another start for the Reds. Perhaps that’s due to Johnny Cueto’s general stiffness. Or maybe the club is determined to have Marquis soak up a few more innings before turning the ball over for good to the next wave of young arms. Then again, despite making every start, Marquis hasn’t pitched enough innings to “qualify” as a starting pitcher.
That’s the only (and ironic) reason why his name isn’t at the absolute bottom of the NL leader board for starters’ ERA.Ã‚Â Marquis hasn’t made it through the fourth inning in the last two games. In the last three games combined, he’s struck out four batters, walked three and given up five home runs. No matter what your favorite pitching metric is, when the home run number is bigger than the strikeout number, it’s not promising. C. Trent Rosecrans provided a look at a possible post-Marquis world.
Somehow, the blessed Colorado Rockies have offered up a pitcher with an even less promising early-season resumÃƒÂ©. Like Marquis, Eddie Butler, a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher is making his ninth start of the season. He’s pitched six innings only once. In his last two starts, he’s made it through 2.2 and 3.0 IP. You might suspect that Butler’s numbers are inflated by pitching at high altitudes, but only three of his starts have been at Coors Field. More telling (and unrelated to altitude) he’s walked more batters than he has struck out. If the Reds hitters are going to get healthy, Eddie Butler seems a prime candidate.
The Colorado Rockies (17-25) are last in the NL West, with a half-game worse record than the Reds. Park-adjusted, they are the 24th best hitting team in the major leagues (Reds #22). Their pitching staff is #29 (Reds #24).
Their only two Rox hitters having above average seasons at the plate (again, park adjusted) are 3B Nolan Arenado and 2B D.J. LeMahieu. Both Arenado and LeMahieu won Gold Glove awards last year, the second in a row for Arenado. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a former Gold Glove winner, has gotten off to a terrible start, batting .206/.285/.326.
Reds fans are familiar with the Rockies closer – it’s none other than the well traveled John Axford, who inherited the job when young fire-baller Adam Ottavino was sidelined to have Tommy John surgery just a few days after winning the Rockies ninth-inning gig.
The Rockies have suffered from their share of injuries. You may remember outfielder Corey Dickerson. He’s the one who almost single-handedly knocked down GABP, line drive by line drive by home run. He’s out. So is their starting first baseman Justin Morneau.
Wow! The Bryan Price with enough sense to have his best hitter batting second has returned to the clubhouse. Joey Votto is batting second, followed by Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the clean up spot. Even more surprisingly, Price has Billy Hamilton batting ninth. He’s following the trend of the cool managers in the division. The idea is to utilize Billy Hamilton’s base-running abilities in front of the top of the lineup, while limiting Hamilton’s number of at bats. It’s sort of like Hamilton is the lead-off hitter, except with the fewest at bats. Great idea. No one believes changing the lineup for one day matters much, but kudos to Bryan Price for being willing to try it. Every inch matters. The Reds lineup (stats):
The Rockies are playing their B-team today. Already noted are Morneau and Dickerson missing due to injury. Charlie Blackmon and Troy Tulowitzki are also sitting today. [Update: Rockies have scratched CarGo, per CTR. Added Blackmon back, leading off.] The RockiesÃ‚Â lineup (stats):
MESORACO OUT, PARRA BACK
Reds place Devin Mesoraco (left hip) on disabled list, retro to Thursday, and reinstate from the DL Manny Parra (strained neck).
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 25, 2015
A MEMORIAL DAY MIRACLE
Sean Marshall was back in the #Reds clubhouse, feeling great. The response from teammates that he could throw in 6 weeks said it all
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 25, 2015
With his 4 plate appearances yesterday, Marlon Byrd is on pace for 603. If he reaches 550, he’ll qualify for a guaranteed $8 million salary from the Reds in 2016.
STATING THE OBVIOUS
If the Reds are going to make organizational changes, whether that be players traded, managers fired or general managers replaced, waiting until after the All-Star game makes no sense. Those decisions have long-lasting and profound implications, far more important than any potential short-term awkwardness. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote late last night:
I cannot understand, however, why the Reds would hold off on Price if they determine that a change is necessary. The All-Star Game is seven weeks away, for goodnessÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ sake. It already is sold out, and will shed a positive light on Cincinnati regardless of the condition of the local nine.
Firing Bryan Price may keep the mob from the door for a while, but without more fundamental change in the Reds baseball operations, it’s nothing more than a stalling tactic. Local guy Mo Egger nails it in his post last night:
Much of what we watched in Cleveland this weekend is not Bryan Price’s fault, but even if you hold him more accountable than I do, you have to admit that the real apology shouldn’t come from the manager, but instead from the men who employ him.Ã‚Â Walt Jocketty and Bob Castellini should be doing the apologizing. Ã‚Â They’ve hamstrung their manager by equipping him with a fatally flawed team born from awful financial management, staggering stubbornness, and yes, some unfortunate luck.
TICKETS AND TRAVEL
RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ fans can help the team snap the skid by attending Reds games anywhere, at home or on the road. Hipmunk.com is any baseball fanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 1 travel resource with cheap flights to any baseball city in the country, including affordable hotels near any MLB stadium.
Given the Rockies starting pitcher and Sunday Special lineup, if the Reds don’t win today, they may never win again all season. Seriously, I like Bryan Price’s new lineup and wouldn’t be surprised if it gives the Reds offense a much needed (and overdue) shot in the arm.
Go Reds and Happy Memorial Day everyone.