One month does not a season make. That said, a quick perusal of games started from Opening Day through May 2nd shows that Graham Ashcraft faced off against the likes of the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and the Pittsburgh Pirates (twice). There are no bottom feeders among that group, with several of the single most talented lineups in baseball well repped.
Doug breezed through them with a proclivity largely unique among big league pitchers these days. His hard, heavy cutter and grounder inducement flies in the face of the K-addicted arms who thrive on other arsenals, and that glorious 6 start stretch showed just how good the second-year Reds hurler could be. A 2.00 ERA ranked 7th among the 77 qualified starters during that stretch, and despite his approach not being a darling in the eyes of fWAR, his 1.0 accrued during that span put him in a tie for the 14th best in all of baseball - tied with notables like Shohei Ohtani and George Kirby, among others.
We know the wheels fell off immediately after that stretch, and the cherry-pickiness done here is both readily evident and on purpose. Highlighting that stretch was by no means an intention to suggest that’s how good Graham Ashcraft is or has been, however, but rather an attempt to highlight how good he can be when everything is clicking.
The Reds offense has picked him up during his struggles in much the same way they’ve picked up Luke Weaver all season. While there’s definitely an expectation that the bats will fall at least a little bit back to earth before season’s end, there’s also a hope that Ashcraft - who bucked his poor trend with anexcellent outing against San Diego last time out - will be able to rediscover at least a little bit of the form that made him one of the best arms in the game earlier this year.
Ashcraft starts tonight for the Reds as they look to claim yet another road series. They’ve taken the first two of the four-game set in Washington against the lowly Nationals, and a victory tonight will see them both take the series and put a potential four-game sweep on the line in Thursday’s game.
Of course, to do so they’ll need to get past All Star Josiah Gray, who you may remember from such films as The Boatjacking of Supership 79, Hydro: the Man With the Hydraulic Arms, and Being Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd Round of the 2018 MLB Draft Prior to Being Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a Deal Featuring Tons of Big Names Who Never Panned out Anywhere Else Ever Again.
First pitch is set for 7:05 PM ET. Go Reds.