How will the Reds get in their own way tonight? Nothing has seemed to fire at the same time for this team since April. Suddenly, there's good pitching, but it's the offense or defense that falters. The bullpen had a chance to catch its breath with four off days over the All Star Break, but it's still prey to high-leverage blow outs and mismanagement. When Votto is on, Bruce is off. In fact, the Reds two most important bats have both been lacking some punch since the ASB - and before.
Votto made headway with a HR last night, but Bruce has only two extra base hits and no home runs in 10 games since the Break. He does have two doubles in the last four games, but the team is going to continue to run into frustration turning runners into runs if neither player can slug over .500. Both are having good seasons by any measure. But this team's offseason strategy kinda relied on both these dudes holding the line from last year - or even improving, in Bruce's case. Along with Stubbs - whose power is down from the last two season's - Bruce is roughly the same player he was last year. No net improvement (or even a slight downturn) from these three doesn't pick up the slack for the pitching staff or third base.
Neither, of course, does the bad pitching itself. Arroyo is having a rough go of it, leading the league in earned runs, home runs and struggling to pitch at replacement level. But there's no point in twisting that knife any more. The Reds' options are to continue starting him or put on the disabled list. Moving him to the bullpen has no advantage over a phantom injury/rehab maneuver, as it would involve sending down an effective reliever and provide no obvious benefit to Arroyo. Are there signs of progress? Not in anything that can be measured by stats. Arroyo's last two starts were almost identical - 6.2 IP, 4 ER - except that her gave up 3 HRs in his most recent appearance.
My hope for Bronson rests entirely in his past success in July-September. Following the 2011 Reds in increasingly an exercise in nostalgia for the immediate past.
|2011 - Bronson Arroyo||7-8||22||20||0||0||0||0||121.1||145||79||75||29||27||70||5.56||1.42|
|2011 - Mike Pelfrey||5-9||21||21||1||0||0||0||123.2||133||69||65||18||39||68||4.73||1.39|
Drew Stubbs CF
Miguel Cairo 3B
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Chris Heisey LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Paul Janish SS
Bronson Arroyo RHP