Edinson Volquez may be moved to the bullpen

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Edinson Volquez failed to escape the first inning Monday night against the Giants, allowing five runs on five hits and three walks over just two-thirds of an inning. He now has a 6.17 ERA and 1.97 WHIP over his first eight starts since being activated from the disabled list in July, posting a troublesome 36/27 K/BB ratio over 35 innings.

Wild inconsistencies aren’t anything new with a pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery, but it’s especially tough for the Reds to continue to putting him out there in the middle of a playoff race. With that in mind, Reds manager Dusty Baker told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he “did not know” whether Volquez would make his next scheduled start Sunday.

“We have to decide if it’s better served for him to continue to start
and hope he gets it or have somebody else start and possibly put him in
the bullpen or something,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ll decide
that after we revamp who’s pitching. Bryan is going to come up with two
or three different scenarios that we’ll go over and we’ll try to come up
with the best one for us and for them.”

It would be easy for the Reds to swap Mike Leake with Volquez, however the team recently sent the young right-hander to the bullpen in an effort to limit his workload. Aaron Harang would make plenty of sense for the spot, but he was recently hammered for six runs in a rehab start with Triple-A Louisville last Friday. Ultimately, it may come down to Matt Maloney, who was sent back to the minors when Volquez returned to the majors last month. The 26-year-old left-hander posted a 3.09 ERA in two starts with the Reds and has a 3.35 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) with Triple-A Louisville this season.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.