Tonight in game 2 of 3 versus the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Reds get to test the time worn cliche that one of the best things about professional baseball is that a team doesn’t have to wait long for their chance to set things right after a terrible performance. The Reds at 24-26 through 50 games will be trying to get back to one game under .500 for the third time on this road trip. The surging Jays, 24-27 and winners of 7 of their last 10 games, will be looking to continue their recovery from a disastrous start to the 2017 season.
Asher Wojciechowski, who says it is OK to just call him Wojo, gets the start for the Reds. He becomes the tenth starting pitcher for the Reds this season. This will be Wojciechowski’s fourth MLB starting assignment but his first since April of 2015 with the Astros. As irony would have it, the righthander was originally a property of the Blue Jays as the #41 overall pick (first round sandwich pick) in the 2010 draft. He went to the Astro’s in the July 2012 trade which brought JA Happ, tonight’s Toronto starter, to the Jays. Following an abbreviated MLB stint in 2015, Wojciechowski bounced through the minor league systems of the Astros, Marlins, and Diamondbacks. After being released by Diamondbacks at the end of 2017 spring training, Wojciechowski caught on with the Reds organization to provide depth at AAA; and now, here he is in the Reds rotation, at least for one game.
Veteran lefthander JA Happ makes the start for the Blue Jays. Tonight marks Happ’s return from a stint on the DL due to elbow issues. He hasn’t pitched for the Blue Jays since April 21 but did make a rehab start with the Jays A+ minor league team last week. In the three MLB starts Happ made this season before going on the DL, his ERA was half a run higher than his career ERA but his FIP and xFIP were both better than his career norms. In 16 MLB innings this season, he has yet to allow a walk but his given up 4 home runs. He has also struck out batters at a rate of more than 1 an inning this season. If he pitches true to this form tonight, the Reds will have to put the ball in play; but also may be able to put some over the fences.
Tonight is one of the situations where the numbers may not tell us a lot. Here’s what I chose to do with them:
|Asher Wojciechowski 2017 AAA||2.86||0.70||2.10||4.83|
|J.A. Happ MLB 2017||3.78||2.25||0.00||11.25|
With Monday’s game turning into a rout early on, no front line relievers were used by either manager.
SP: J.A. Happ
|1. Billy Hamilton (CF)
2. Zack Cozart (SS)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Adam Duvall (DH)
5. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
6. Scott Schebler (RF)
7. Devin Mesoraco (C)
8. Patrick Kivlehan (LF)
9. Jose Peraza (2B)
|1. Kevin Pillar (CF)
2. Josh Donaldson (3B)
3. Jose Bautista (RF)
4. Kendrys Morales (DH)
5. Justin Smoak (1B)
6. Russell Martin (C)
7. Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
8. Devon Travis (2B)
9. Ezequiel Carrera (LF)
The Reds are loading up with their best RH batting lineup to face Happ. Mesoraco gets consecutive starts. Duvall moves to DH to get Kivlehan into the action. Let’s hope Happ is not a short timer followed by a parade of RH pitchers.
Adam Duvall is in the midst of one of his hot streaks. Over his last five games, his slash line is .400/.400/1.150. That makes for an OPS of 1.550 and ISO of .750. The guy may have issues with above average pitching (what hitters not named Votto don’t); but he knows what to do when he sees average and below average pitching.
Seemingly everybody on the Jays was hot even before they saw Reds pitching on Monday. But How about this for commentary on Monday’s Blue Jays offensive outburst.
The hot topic in most Reds circles today seems to be what is going on with Robert Stephenson and how the Reds should proceed with him the rest of the season.
For the record, count me among those who think Stephenson needs to be pitching regularly somewhere as a starter. The way events have unfolded to now this season, that “somewhere” pretty much has to be Louisville to allow him to get stretched out. However if he goes to AAA and gets on a roll, then waste no time getting him back with the Reds in the starting rotation. Now back to your regularly scheduled preview…….
Both starting pitchers come into tonight’s game as question marks, Happ due to injury and Wojciechowski because he has never had success at the MLB level. Both will be facing a big time offense. It seems like the makings of a last man standing cage match. So, now watch one of the starting pitchers go out put together a really strong outing. Hopefully it will be the Reds offense turn to have a “pratique de battage” game for a change.