It certainly feels like Reds have been playing 0.500 ball lately. A quick glance at the standings (or slightly farther down this page) confirms that this is more than a feeling. Pythagoras is kinder, putting the Reds at 15-11 based on runs scored and runs allowed to date. Peripheral stats for several key contributors point to some bad mojo. And the average margin of victory/defeat over the last 10 games, in which the Reds have gone 4-6, is 2 runs even. Things could have broken a little different and this team could easily be a couple games over and in first place. Of course, you can't bank your runs. While I feel pretty confident the Reds are better than their current record, I'm not sure how much better.
Having Cueto, Bailey and Rolen back will help. I'm going to guess that finding a way to knock a few points off that freakishly high 1st Inning staff ("staph"?) ERA of 10.04 will also be beneficial. The next-worst inning for Reds pitching is the fifth - and it's almost half as bad at 5.19. It's only a sample of 26 innings, but SOMETHING should be done about this. In general, Reds pitching gets better as the game progresses. Let's not mince words: this is in no small part due to the fact that Reds starting pitching has been bad.
Edinson Volquez, who has suffered from First Inning China Syndrome, put up a zero in the first frame of his last start. I made the mistake of saying, before last night's game, that Travis Wood was going to be "OK." I might eat my words again, but I'm sticking to my claim that things are going to get much better for Volquez soon. They're going to have to if he's matching up with the likes of Josh Johnson, while the rest of the staff is pitching mediocre at best. So with that, I'm going to bravely call on Edinson Volquez to pitch well tonight. It would really be best for all of us.
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