What all Reds fans hoped would be the beginning of a strong push toward a playoff berth went off the rails Thursday evening. Now let’s see if the home team can get the engine back on the track in game two of a four-game weekend series against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park. Start time tonight is 7:10 p.m. Eastern time.

Before the game, relief pitcher David Hernandez was designated for assignment, and Sal Romano was recalled from Louisville to take his place. Reds management heard the voices of many of those here in Redleg Nation with regard to Hernandez. To this observer, this is another sign that the team management is “all in”, the willingness to eat the remainder of a contract of a veteran who is not performing well.

Starting Pitchers

Name IP ERA xFIP K% BB%
Yu Darvish 126.0 4.36 3.94 28.1% 9.6%
Trevor Bauer 161.1 3.85 4.35 27.5% 9.6%

Not much separates these two in terms of statistics. We saw in Bauer’s first start as a Red against Atlanta a lack of control that led to what seemed like a full count on every batter. His ability to regularly throw around 120 pitches per start is irrelevant if they come in only five or six innings of work. Since mid-July, Darvish has returned to the form the Cubs were seeking when they signed him as a free agent more than a year ago. He’s recorded a 2.17 ERA in 29 innings since July 12.

Bullpen

Ouch. This is clearly the team’s weakness at this point. It was a bold decision by Manager David Bell to take Alex Wood out after three innings Thursday, despite him having given up five runs. That meant the final six innings would be handled by the weak link in the team’s chain, and it showed. These relievers can be considered somewhat reliable at this point: Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and more recently Lucas Sims. The fact that Bell continued to use Hernandez in meaningful situations perhaps reflects how little confidence he has in Robert Stephenson.

Starting Lineups

Cubs Reds
CF Jason Heyward LF Jesse Winker
RF Nicholas Castellanos 1B Joey Votto
3B Kris Bryant 3B Eugenio Suarez
1B Anthony Rizzo 2B Josh VanMeter
SS Javier Baez RF Aristides Aquino
2B Ian Happ CF Nick Senzel
LF Kyle Schwarber C Tucker Barnhart
C Victor Caratini SS Jose Peraza
P Yu Darvish P Trevor Bauer

Not that you’re not doing this already, but keep a close eye on Aquino tonight. Cubs pitchers appeared to discover his Kryptonite last night — breaking pitches low in the zone and off the outside corner. After two fantastic Aquino at-bats, the Cubs said nah-baby-nah to anything more that was hittable. Result: three strikeouts. We should learn in relatively short order if he is able to make the necessary adjustments to lay off those pitches or not.

Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at BaseballSavant.com.