Three straight dubyas! That’s one way to try to force that roller coaster past couple weeks out of your head as a Reds fan. Chris Welch mentioned during one of the telecasts during the Astros series that last year’s team started the year hovering around .500 and being lethargic for a stretch then caught fire, and they did. I am hoping we can draw a parallel between 2010 and 2011 and this will be the start of a good stretch of baseball for the Reds. Fingers are crossed. Ups and Downs after the jump…
The Return- With the return of Homer Bailey already having came and passed with a result better than I was expecting (6 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB against the Astros) and Johnny Cueto coming up against the Cubs Sunday, we finally see this pitching staff full stocked in the way we envisioned during the spring. The impact of their return will be twofold…the return of the guys will provide a shot in the arm to a starting staff who has been less than stellar as of late and it will push Mike Leake and Sam LeCure to the pen to bolster an overtaxed unit there. As the next couple weeks unfold we should see the full impact of this return if Cueto and Bailey pitch the way their rehab starts suggest.
Roster Moves– With those guys heading back to Cincy, Dusty and Walt have been busy going up and down with players. The return of Cueto & Bailey has populated the bullpen with two more arms. To make this room, Jordan Smith was sent down. That unfortunate as Smith has had guts stepping in and plugging a bullpen hole when the pen was melting down a bit a couple weeks ago. We are sure to see him back at some point soon, I am positive. Fred Lewis was also brought up this week after being activated from the DL himself. This ended Jeremy Hermida‘s stint in Cincy.
Jay Bruce– Just good old fashioned stats for this up…6 for 20 with 2 doubles, 3 HR, and 7 RBI in the past 7 days. Bruce clubbed a 3 run shot today off of Matt Garza to provide the Reds with the first lead of the game. It also made his second homer in as many days. BRRRUUUUCCCEEEEE!
Jonny Gomes– I think what juice Bruce has picked up he stole from Gomes. Gomes is hitting 2 for 14 with 1 RBI, 3 BB, and 3 K in the past seven as he has slowly saw his batting average slide sub-Mendoza at .189. I gotta come to Gomes defense however. His BAbip thus far? .190. The league average is .285. That’s what we just call a little unlucky and that can be partly to blame for Jonny’s dip.
Bullpen- Not because of a less than stellar performance yet again for this week, but more because they have been getting ridden fairly hard as of late. 22.1 innings out of a possible 54 over the past 6 games. That has the starters going only an average of 5.1 innings per outing. That is a pace that cannot be kept unless we want to see Logan Ondrusek‘s arm literally fly off warming up in the bullpen sometime in July. The point was made clearly today as Edinson Volquez pitched only 5 innings and allowed 4 runs and gave way to the bullpen who slammed the door over 4 innings only allowing one hit and shutting out the Cubbies the rest of the way. You’ve only got so many of those bullets in your bullpen gun, gotta try to conserve.
Bumps & Bruises- Injuries have been a nuisance thus far for the Reds in 2011. Cueto and Bailey before the season began, Fred Lewis, Scott Rolen, Juan Francisco. Injuries come in waves from year to year and sometimes a team is lucky, sometimes they aren’t. It may be just one of those years where not only other teams are gunning for you, but the injury bug is as well. Even today, Paul Janish tweaked an ankle sliding in to third but stayed in the game in obvious pain. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a couple days off after this (hopefully that’s all, it looked bad). Luckily for the Reds though all of the teams in the NL Central hunt have had their share of injury troubles so things are evened out but the MASH unit may continue to roll through Cincy. Lets just say I will be covering my eyes every time a Red makes a hard charging slide into a base for the next while.