This has to be Vladimir Gutierrez's last chance, right?

Cincinnati Reds catcher Aramis Garcia (33) looks on as Vladimir Gutierrez hands the ball to David Bell.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Aramis Garcia (33) looks on as Vladimir Gutierrez hands the ball to David Bell. / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If he's not careful, Vladimir Gutierrez will endure the same fate as Reiver Sanmartin. The Cincinnati Reds will send Gutierrez to the hill tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers with the right-hander's future in the rotation hanging in the balance.

Gutierrez has not been good. In fact, he's been downright awful. Entering today's game, Gutierrez has made four starts, has a 7.41 ERA, a FIP of 6.67, and more walks (15) than strikeouts (11).

Furthermore, Gutierrez has not gotten past the fifth inning. This is a problem that dates back to September of last season. In his first 16 starts, Gutierrez owned a 3.68 ERA and failed to get out of the fifth just twice.

In his last 10 starts, Vladimir Gutierrez has completed five innings only once and has a miserable 8.53 ERA to go along with a BB/9 of 6.16. Gutierrez doesn't have to record punch outs, but he cannot afford to pile up the walks.

Reds RHP Vladimir Gutierrez must command the strike zone.

A pitcher's inability to throw strikes will quickly derail his career. Reds fans saw it happen to former first-round pick Robert Stephenson. The 29-year-old, now with the Colorado Rockies, is up to his old tricks again.

Now a reliever, Stephenson three strikeouts and three walks in four innings of work this season. However, Stephenson did overcome his command issues with a trip to the bullpen. While I think we're more likely to see Gutierrez go back to Triple-A, a relief role may be in his future if he cannot cut down on the walks.

Vladimir Gutierrez was an x-factor coming into this season. He was either going to build off a successful rookie campaign, or continue to downward turn we saw at the end of last season. So far, it's been the latter.

Gutierrez will get the opportunity to turn the page tonight at American Family Field. The Cincinnati Reds really need five-plus quality innings from the right-hander while also limiting the number of free passes he issues to Brewers hitters.

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