Even though he didn’t really excel in his first half-season back from Tommy John surgery, going 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 12 starts, Edinson Volquez was Reds manager Dusty Baker’s choice to start on Opening Day this year.
And as it turned out, it worked just fine. Volquez gave up five runs in six innings, but the Reds won 7-6 anyway. It’s turned into something of a trend: Volquez gets off to a horrible start, puts it together enough in order to keep Cincinnati in the game and the Reds end up with a narrow victory. They’re 5-3 in his eight starts this year, with four of those wins coming by one run.
Volquez, though, has a 5.74 ERA after allowing three runs in four innings Wednesday against the Astros. He’s yet to pitch more than six innings in a start. He issued five walks today, bringing his season total to 33 in 43 1/3 innings.
And it’s not like the Reds don’t have alternatives. Both Mike Leake and Sam LeCure did solid work while filling in for Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey over the first five weeks. Leake had a 5.77 ERA in six starts, but he was legitimately good in four of them (and bombed in the other two). LeCure had a 4.79 ERA in four starts.
So if the Reds don’t want to send down Aroldis Chapman to make room for Jose Arredondo this weekend, they could choose to demote Volquez and restore either Leake or LeCure to the rotation (probably Leake). Volquez has options remaining, so there’s no concern there. A few weeks in the minors to work on his control issues in a low-pressure situation might be just the thing for him.