After teammates Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo flashed elite stuff in the first two games of the Cincinnati Reds season, all eyes turned to Graham Ashcraft to see if the third head of the team’s pitching monster could shine as brightly. After teammates Greene and Lodolo struggled early with high pitch counts and failed to get deep into their games, all eyes turned to Ashcraft to see if he could save the bullpen a bit, too.
Neither was a problem for the burly righty, who needed just 95 pitches to fire 7 IP of excellence, yielding a lone ER on 4 H and a walk while fanning 6 (and inducing 9 groundouts, as is custom with his repertoire. It was enough to earn the Reds a 3-1 victory on Sunday thanks the backing of TJ Friedl and Jason Vosler with homers, and the Reds will now welcome the Chicago Cubs to GABP on Monday with a winning record on their card.
Graham, congrats on the first Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game nod of the 2023 season. Here’s to many more.
[Link to interactive FanGraphs WPA chart & box score]
- Joey Votto sent the first pitch he saw to the freakin’ moon last night in his debut for AAA Louisville, and the Reds have video of it for your consumption.
- Matt McLain now has a homer on his AAA ledger this year, too.
- The oh crap! portion of the starting rotation begins tomorrow, of course, as we all wait anxiously to see if the Connor Overton from the limited action in 2022 shows up instead of the one who struggled mightily through spring. He’ll be tasked with taking on the Cubs in the series opener opposite veteran lefty Drew Smyly, with first pitch set for 6:40 PM ET.