The echo chamber is chock-full of Precious Roy today. Rightly so. Chad over at Redleg Nation went the path of escapism, I'm inclined to follow him down. From the Reds camp, the best take I've seen was from the MVP-deserving lips of Joey Votto:
"He just pitched so well. When you're trying to thread a needle up at the plate, it's just miserable. It's not fun being up there trying to hit nothing. Tonight was a nothing night. Sometimes you just don't get pitches to hit. I took the one pitch I saw all night to hit because I wanted to see a strike. He just acted like Roy for the rest of the bat. I hate to use hyperbole, he's an ace among aces." (Mark My Word)
Watching the game last night, I felt a slow, steadily mounting sense of inevitability. It was a Twilight Zone in which every time I looked at the count, it was 0-2. The game was an undeniably historic one - which if baseball still exists in the post-apocalypse, I'll bitterly recount to my grandchildren while clinging to my shopping cart.
For Reds fans, this game didn't yield a single happy headline, only questions. Questions like, "are you going to drink the rest of that?"and "Why are you telling me I can't sleep in this drainage ditch?" So I'll put just a few more to you:
What adjustments should be made for Game 2?
Dusty just announced that Laynce Nix will start Game 2 (Nix is 9-for-17 in his career against Oswalt). Titanic deck chair arrangers have debated last night's defensive performances by Gomes and Cabrera. But should any horses by changed (or beaten) in mid-stream? I'm not convinced there would be much difference offensively between Cabrera and Janish in a short playoff series against this slate of pitchers. But Janish, as he's always been, is the better glove. There's very little justification for guaranteeing Cabrera a starting spot, #2 in the order and all nine innings the whole series.
Looking past the small sample vs. Oswalt, Laynce Nix and Chris Heisey are both better fielders and better against righties this year than Gomes. Gomes put up .257/.301/.408 splits this season and .233/.309/.438 over his career. Chris Heisey has posted a .321/.389/.536 line in 126 major league PAs against righties (though his minor league splits run the other way), while Laynce Nix did .289/.346/.450 in 163 PAs this season. All of this to say, neither Nix nor Heisey can be expected to master the Phillies. But, at worst, you're getting similar offensive output and improved LF defense.
While it's always tempting to embrace the cold comfort of numbers, there's always room for the qualities of leadership and composure Gomes and Cabrera may bring to the field. Still, it's hard to believe that would make up the performance gap, especially on defense. The larger point would be that the Reds will probably not win on the margin between Cabrera and Janish or Gomes and Nix.
What to do with Volquez and Wood?
Edinson Volquez tossed 56 pitches Wednesday night. Travis wood 47. Volquez has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his comeback from Tommy John surgery, while Wood at his best (a near perfect game against the Phillies) and on the whole, has performed better than the Wagon. Either could be available Sunday on short rest, so how do you use over the remainder of the series, especially if the Reds have their backs up against it 2-0 in Game 3?
How short will Arroyo's (nasty) hook be?
Would you let Chapman pitch two innings?
The man who invented it doesn't want it. The man who bought it doesn't need it. The man who needs it doesn't know it. What is it?