Every time it looks like the Reds (29-30) are going to start sliding down the standings, they reel off a winning streak and move themselves right back in the thick of things in the NL Central. The club has crept back into third place after sweeping the Cardinals in four games — the first time they’ve done that since 2003, the year Great American Ball Park opened — and now sit two games behind the first-place Brewers and one game back from the Cubs.
They’ll look to keep their momentum going on the west coast as they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers (36-25) for the first time in 2017. First pitch is set for 10:10 p.m. ET. Despite their impressive record, the Dodgers are also in third place in their respective division, trailing the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West.
In a battle of struggling southpaws, Amir Garrett will take the mound for the Reds. His last three starts have been disastrous, allowing 22 runs (21 earned), 19 hits, eight walks, and nine home runs over 11.2 innings. As both the walks and home runs indicate, his command has been poor in recent outings, which is a far cry from his first three starts of the season in which he walked only one batter and didn’t surrender a homer. Now, his walk rate has climbed above 10 percent and there are only six pitchers in all of baseball who have allowed more homers (including, yes, Bronson Arroyo).
All that being said, there’s no reason to think this is anything other than a rookie facing a learning curve in the big leagues. Unlike their other young arms, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson, the Reds are letting Garrett work through his struggles in the majors, which is the right move in a season of sorting.
This will be Garrett’s first career start against the Dodgers.
Rich Hill battled injuries for much of his career but came out of nowhere last season to put up a 3.8-fWAR season at age 36. He made the All-Star Game for the first time in his career as a member of the Oakland Athletics and was shipped to the Dodgers before the trade deadline, along with outfielder Josh Reddick, for a trio of promising pitching prospects. Hill ended the season with a 2.12 ERA and 3.36 xFIP while striking out nearly 30 percent of the hitters he faced.
The lefty hasn’t replicated that success in his first full season with the Dodgers. He’s battled blister issues for much of the year and hasn’t been effective when healthy enough to pitch. His walk rate is among the worst in the game, ranking as the fifth-highest mark among 331 pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched. According to Hill himself (and reported by the LA Times’ Andy McCullough), his problem has been with his mechanics, which makes sense if he’s having issues gripping the baseball due to blister problems.
Hill has only faced two current Reds, both when he was with the Cubs: Arroyo (1 for 5) and Joey Votto (0 for 2).
|CF Billy Hamilton (63 wRC+)||CF Chris Taylor (148 wRC+)|
|SS Zack Cozart (170 wRC+)||SS Corey Seager (126 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (161 wRC+)||3B Justin Turner (162 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suárez (130 wRC+)||LF Franklin Gutiérrez (89 wRC+)|
|RF Scott Schebler (125 wRC+)||2B Logan Forsythe (69 wRC+)|
|LF Patrick Kivlehan (98 wRC+)||C Austin Barnes (134 wRC+)|
|2B José Peraza (60 wRC+)||1B Cody Bellinger (125 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (78 wRC+)||RF Kiké Hernandez (104 wRC+)|
|P Amir Garrett (5.24 xFIP)||P Rich Hill (5.53 xFIP)|
— No Adam Duvall tonight after he went 3-for-4 with two doubles yesterday afternoon. He already had a day off earlier in the week, so this seems a bit odd. If there’s an injury or anything to note, we’ll certainly keep you posted.
UPDATE: Duvall is sick, according to the Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan.
— Cincinnati Reds legend Scooter Gennett is also out of the lineup for the first time since his four-homer game on Tuesday.
— The Dodgers activated former Reds farmhand Justin Turner off the DL today. He’s been raking this season when healthy, batting .379/.453/.493 and leading the team with a 2.1 fWAR.
— Another former Reds prospect, catcher Yasmani Grandal, is getting a day off.
News and Notes
Stat of the Day
Only seven of 299 players with at least 100 plate appearances have more walks than strikeouts. One of them is, unsurprisingly, Joey Votto.
|Dustin Pedroia||Red Sox||21||17|
|Omar Narvaez||White Sox||15||14|
|Mookie Betts||Red Sox||25||24|
The Reds finally received some quality starting pitching to go with their strong offense in the sweep of the Cardinals. Even a decent start would be encouraging for Garrett tonight after his performance against the Braves last Sunday. He has been either really good or really bad in all his starts this season, with no middle ground; let’s see if the “really good” Garrett shows up tonight.