Cincinnati Reds (55-54) vs. Miami Marlins (53-56)
Saturday, August 2, 2014: 7:10 p.m. at Marlins Park
It has been a slow climb back to respectability statistical for Homer Bailey in 2014. Where his ERA sits now (4.03) is the lowest it has been the entire season, an attribute to how horrendous his start to the year truly was. With three of his last five starts being brilliant (or as Jim Kelch would refer to them, “ultra” quality starts), Bailey seems to have righted the ship and gotten back to basics.
Seeing the Marlins will be a welcomed sight to Bailey, who is only 2-1 in his six career starts, but possesses a rock solid 2.68 ERA in addition to striking out nearly a batter an inning and a WHIP of 1.01. His K/BB (4.11) ratio against Miami is the second highest against any club in which he has appeared against at least twice.
Part of Bailey’s adjustment period this year may have something to do with working with Devin Mesoraco full-time. Former catcher Ryan Hanigan coaxed a 3.42 ERA out of Bailey in just over 400 innings of work. While Mesoraco has only caught him for 254, his ERA sits at 4.32 with Mesoraco behind the dish. Since the duo will be working together for quite some time due to contractual obligations, the sooner they figure out how to get the most out of Bailey, the better.
The curious case of Nathan Eovaldi may be one that floats under the traditional media bylines, but it is an interesting one nonetheless. Eovaldi has been stellar with his control thus far in 2014, walking only 28 batters in 136 innings pitched. If possible, he has too much control. His FIP (fielding independent pitching) is nearly an entire run lower than his actual ERA (3.56 FIP – 4.37 ERA).
None of his last three times on the hill have been anything to write home about. Reaching an innings plateau he has not yet touched at the big league level, Eovaldi has seen himself allow at least five earned runs in three consecutive starts, watching his ERA soar into the four’s for the first time all year.
Never before has Eovaldi seen the Redlegs, which may be pleased about. In fact, the shorter amount of time he sees them the better. As is common with most pitchers in the 21st Century, Eovaldi completely falls off after his 75th pitch. Pitches 51-75 he yields an opponent’s batting average of just .231. Then, the next 25 pitches, the number skyrockets to .327 with an OPS all the way at .868.
Having seemingly found themselves back in the thick of things, the Redlegs recognize that with some of the weaker teams in either league approaching on the schedule, now is the time to pounce. With Bailey on the mound Saturday, they look to continue their dominance over the Miami Marlins.