ROSTER MOVES: Reds called up Todd Frazier (he'll wear 21) and Matt Maloney. They optioned Jordan Smith and Edinson Volquez. Danny Ray Herrera was put on waivers and claimed by the Brewers. Chad Reineke seems likely to take DRH's place on the 40-man roster and start Friday.
Let's be honest: this is a tight spot. After three games against baseball's best team (by record), any other match-up would provide some relief. Except, of course, the Philadelphia Phillies. Kind of like having the governor commute your sentence to a more accurate firing squad. Unavoidable in a four game series, the Reds have drawn a very good poker hand: three aces. Hamels, Halladay, Lee. But who's this Vance Worley mope matching up against Cueto tomorrow? Sounds like a door-to-door Thesaurus salesman from the 50s. I was not pleased to discover he's pitched about as well, if not better, than Cueto has this season (though in only 2 starts).
The Reds' current 5-game skid and a look at the probable pitchers have some skipping right ahead to Sweepsville. Nonsense. But you have to manage expectations. The Reds were 0-4 at Citizen's Bank Park during the 2010 regular season and 0-2 there during the divisional series. Three of those loses were shutouts. The Phillies have already thrown seven shutouts this season. The Reds haven't scored on Cole Hamels in almost 22 innings. Did you hear that Chase Utley is back? I didn't, because I was busy barfing into my tear-soaked pillow.
The tea leaves aren't all rotten. Even with Utley returned, he may not be 100% - aside from the fact that the Phils' offense has come up lame in the first month and a half of the season. Where the Reds have been at or near the top of the majors in runs/game, Philadelphia has hovered near the bottom, with only 2 regulars OPsing over .800 and not a whole lot of power to speak of. Ryan Howard, the man whose salary may be an accessory to the murder of extension talks with Votto, has been Pujolsian: .243/.320/.480.
So this team can be shut down. The Reds will call on both Cueto and Bailey, the two best arms going, on Tuesday and Thursday. Tonight's starter, Bronson Arroyo, has been his usual spasmodic self. But his last appearance against the Phillies, 1 ER over 5.2 IP in the 2010 playoffs, inspires confidence. Travis Wood, who goes Wednesday, can boast of even greater success against the Phillies on their turf last season: 9 scoreless innings, 1 H, 0 BB during the regular season, with a scoreless 3.1 inning encore during Game 1 of the playoffs. The recipe for success demands good pitching. Squeezing out a few runs in each game will keep it competitive.
The Reds are right to try to optimize their roster right now. Losing this series - or getting swept - could easily put the team 5+ games out entering June. A trade may be in order by the July deadline. But, for now, you play the hand you're dealt.
|2011 - Bronson Arroyo||3-4||9||9||0||0||0||0||57.0||61||29||26||10||14||40||4.11||1.32|
|2011 - Cole Hamels||5-2||9||9||1||0||0||0||61.2||49||20||20||4||13||64||2.92||1.01|