Blundering Reds fire pitching coach, retain rest of staff

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Blame the pitching coach. That’s what the Reds did Friday when they announced that Dick Pole was being terminated while the rest of the coaching staff would return in 2010.
So, why Pole? The Reds have boasted above average pitching this year, with an ERA+ of 105. They rank seventh in the NL in ERA and eighth in the league in runs allowed despite playing in a ballpark that’s kind to hitters.
The offense, in comparison, has been brutal. The Reds have an 83 OPS+, barely ahead of the Giants at 82. The league’s next worst team comes it at 89. They rank 11th in runs scored anyway, but they’re closer to last place than they are to the Nationals in 10th. Only the Petco-deflated Padres have a worst average, and the Giants are the only team with a lower OBP.
So, I ask once again, why Pole? Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang have all improved from 2008. Homer Bailey has also shown signs of progress. Nick Masset has gone from fringe property to middle-relief stud, and Daniel Ray Herrera has proven a bunch of people wrong by succeeding in a setup role. Pole can hardly be blamed for Edinson Volquez’s injury, and if he failed to turn Micah Owings around, well, maybe Owings just isn’t destined to make it as a starter. The only pitcher to take a big step back this year was setup man Jared Burton, and even he’s been much improved over the last two months.
Better if the Reds had just fired Dusty Baker. Pole would have been gone anyway, too, but at least the blame would have fallen where it belongs.

Piscotty returns to Cardinals lineup after concussion

Stephen Piscotty
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
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Stephen Piscotty took the brunt of a frightening outfield collision last week at PNC Park, but he only suffered a mild concussion and was cleared for baseball activities a couple days later.

Now he is back in the Cardinals’ starting lineup, batting second and playing right field Sunday in the first half of a doubleheader against the Braves at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

Piscotty has an impressive .867 OPS with seven home runs and 39 RBI over his first 62 major league games. He should be a big part of the Cardinals’ postseason push, drawing starts in the corner outfield spots and at first base.

St. Louis will get either the Pirates or Cubs in the NLDS.

What to watch for on the final day of the regular season

Cole Hamels
AP Photo/LM Otero

Here we are, the final day of the regular season. And every game with playoff implications will start at the same time: 3:05 p.m. ET. What to watch …

American League Wild Card


This is where the most intrigue lies heading into the day. We have the Yankees currently in position for hosting duties, but they’re only one game up on Houston. And then Houston is only one game up on Anaheim. Also at play here is that the Astros are just one game back of the Rangers in the American League West standings. If the Yankees, Astros, and Rangers all win on Sunday the current postseason map stays the same — the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday will be at Yankee Stadium with the Astros visiting. And the Angels would obviously be out. But if the Angels win and the Astros lose, we’ll have a play-in game Monday. And if the Yankees lose, the location of the Wild Card Game on Tuesday could change.

American League West


As we touched on above, the Astros are still in a position to force a tiebreaker for the division if the Angels beat the Rangers again in Arlington. It’ll be Garrett Richards against Cole Hamels in that one. Houston is throwing Lance McCullers vs. Robbie Ray in Arizona.

American League Best Record


If the AL Central-champion Royals (94-67) beat the Twins on Saturday behind deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto, they’ll get the Wild Card Game winner in the ALDS and clinch homefield advantage throughout the postseason. But if they lose, the Blue Jays (93-68) could move into that top seed because they won their season series against Kansas City 4-3. Mark Buehrle is pitching for Toronto in what is supposed to be his final major league game.

National League Wild Card


Pittsburgh losing and Chicago winning on Saturday kept Wild Card Game hosting duties alive for Wrigley Field. If the Pirates fall again to the Reds and the Cubs win at Miller Park, the game Wild Card Game Wednesday will be in Chicago because the Cubs have the season-series edge (11-8) over the Bucs. Pittsburgh can wrap up clinching duties with a victory behind J.A. Happ.

Stay tuned. We’ll be covering all angles as the 2015 regular season comes to a close.