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Graham Ashcraft rocked again as Reds fall to Cardinals, 8-5


St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

The brilliant start to the 2023 season from Cincinnati Reds starter Graham Ashcraft now seems like eons ago. The 25 year old hurler entered his start on Tuesday evening against the St. Louis Cardinals on quite the tear of bad form, with 18 ER yielded over his last 12.1 IP across a trio of starts against the Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, and Colorado Rockies - hardly a murderer’s row of competition.

Things continued to get worse on Tuesday, unfortunately. Ashcraft was tagged for 7 ER on 10 H in his outing, though he did manage to matriculate his way through 5.0 IP to at least save some of the bullpen on the night. Turns out that was more than the Cincinnati offense could muster on the day, too, and the Reds dropped the second game of the series to the tune of 8-5.

Ashcraft’s season ERA now sits at an unsightly 5.57. Hunter Greene’s is up to 4.68, Nick Lodolo is on the IL, Connor Overton is done for the year, Luis Cessa is a Colorado Rockie, Chase Anderson is, too, and the pitching staff of the Reds that began the season already behind the 8-ball now looks even more stretched thin. Who among us could have possible been worried about that from the outset?

Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game Matt McLain socked his first career big league homer, which was cool. He added a walk as part of his 3-ribbie evening, TJ Friedl returned to the lineup with a pair of doubles from the leadoff spot, and Kevin Newman - Kevin Newman! - went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, too. That simply wasn’t enough, however, as Paul Goldschmidt homered twice and Tommy Edman had one of those ‘this is how Tommy Edman had a meager .725 OPS but still was graded as a 6+ bWAR player in 2022’ kind of games as the Cardinals staved off a would-be late rally by the Reds and chalked up the victory.

Tony Graphanino

[Link to interactive WPA chart and box score, via FanGraphs]

Other Notes

  • Friedl was activated this afternoon and slotted at leadoff today, with regular leadoff hitter Jonathan India bumped back to the #3 spot in the order to form a Matt McLain sandwich. I’d like to read a lot into that shuffle, but I’d also like to read ‘Cincinnati Reds promote Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand and activate Joey Votto off the 60-day IL,’ too, and the latter is going to shake things up far more than this lateral move ever does.
  • The Reds will attempt to get back to their winning ways tomorrow behind Ben Lively. He’ll toe the rubber to start the third game of the series at 6:40 PM ET, and will do so opposite lefty Steven Matz.
  • Tunes.