Edinson Volquez may be moved to the bullpen

2 Comments

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.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.