The rollicking Reds go for a sweep versus the Los Angeles Dodgers in today’s matinee close out of their current homestand at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. With a victory today, the Reds can pull off a bounce back winning homestand and hit the road for St Louis on a 4 game winning streak. Game time is 12:35pm ET.
SP: Clayton Kershaw
SP: Graham Ashcraft
|1. Mookie Betts (RF)
2. Freddie Freeman (1B)
3. J.D. Martinez (DH)
4. Max Muncy (3B)
5. David Peralta (LF)
6. Miguel Vargas (2B)
7. Chris Taylor (SS)
8. James Outman (CF)
9. Austin Barnes (C)
|1. Kevin Newman (1B)
2. Matt McLain (SS)
3. Jonathan India (2B)
4. Elly De La Cruz (3B)
5. Spencer Steer (LF)
6. Tyler Stephenson (DH)
7. TJ Hopkins (RF)
8. Jose Barrero (CF)
9. Curt Casali (C)
Starting On The Mound
|Clayton Kershaw (L)||69.1||3.25||1.01||6.1%||30.0%|
|Graham Ashcraft (R)||62.1||6.64||1.60||7.8%||16.1%|
|Links: Clayton Kershaw’s Stats | Graham Ashcraft’s Stats
For whatever reason, Clayton Kershaw being 35 years old and in his 16th MLB season makes me feel older than acknowledging that I recall Sandy Koufax’s playing career as a another great Dodger lefthander. With 75 career bWAR Kershaw has long since passed Koufax’s total of 53.1. However Kershaw has benefitted from nearly 60 years of advancing medical technology to keep him in the game beyond the dozen years of Koufax who was done at age 30 with elbow woes before Tommy John surgery was available. Which career was greatest is an argument for another day.
LH hitters have actually have gotten on base a tad more effectively versus Kershaw than RH hitters this season but only because he seems to more likely to walk them.
As Kershaw has lost fastball velocity from the mid 90s down to his current level, he has evolved from using his fastball over 50% of the time to throwing more sliders than fastballs. His curve doubles as a changeup off of either one of the other two pitches.
All Reds followers know Graham Ashcraft is in the throes of a serious MLB sophomore funk. Opinions about the cause of this are numerous. Maybe he isn’t 100% physically? Perhaps he is struggling with focus as he grieves the recent loss of his grandmother? Could it be the league has caught up with his repertoire of pitches? Or perhaps, a bit of all of these factor into his difficulties? Whatever the cause, with the callup of Andrew Abbott to the Reds, Ashcraft needs a strong performance to hold his spot in the Reds rotation.
Ashcraft is being hit often and hard, particularly by RH batters. However looking back to 2022, his OPS versus RH hitters isn’t much worse in 2023. What is much worse is that his current HR rate versus RH batters in 2023 is 11% versus just 4% in 2022. Even worse yet is that his OPS versus LH batters has jumped from .555 to his current .732 in 2023.
The major take away here is that Ashcraft has become essentially a 2 pitch pitcher compared to last season when when he threw his sinker 20% and his slider 27% of the time. In 2023, 95% of the time, a hitter knows from the speed of the pitch what the pitch is going to be. And with a cut fastball being essentially a vertically flat slider, the batter also knows what pitch action to anticipate.
The Reds bullpen was tasked with covering 3.1 innings on Wednesday night. The “A” team of Buck Farmer, Lucas Sims, and Alex Diaz covered the entire 3.1 innings with Farmer working 1.1 innings and the other 2 a full inning each. All had last worked previously on Monday. Last night, Farmer threw 16 pitches Wednesday, Diaz 11 and Sims just 9. However with the short overnight turnaround, bets are off as to their availability today.
The Dodgers pen was extended last night as 5 pitchers were used to cover 8+ innings in the Reds walk off win. Three of the five were working on consecutive days and are likely out for today given the short turnaround.
News And Notes
Elly De La Cruz is turning heads everywhere. Read about it here
The Reds seem to have a problem of the good kind
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 8, 2023
And here is Doug’s latest on happenings all over the Reds farm system.
When and Where
- Game time: 12:35 ET
- Where: Great American Ball Park
- Watch: Bally Sports Ohio, MLB.tv
- Listen: 700 WLW AM (Cincinnati area)
- Forecast: 72°, Hazy; Air Quality Alert, 0% chance of rain