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.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.