The Reds are getting a .216/.311/.371 line from their left fielders and a .231/.282/.265 line from their shortstops, but manager Dusty Baker doesn’t think it makes sense to bring up Yonder Alonso, Todd Frazier or Zack Cozart at the moment.
“We chose this team for a reason,” Baker told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay. “That’s a very good Triple-A team down there. Whatever you do, it’s something with the guys who are here. You don’t pull the plug on those guys right now. It’s too early for that.”
Two months in doesn’t necessarily seem too early, especially with the Reds struggling lately and playing .500 ball overall. Alonso is hitting .324/.381/.519 while playing mostly left field for Louisville. Frazier, who was up for one day last month, is hitting .280/.362/.514. He’s played mostly third base, but he’s started 12 games in left field when Alonso has played first base. Cozart is batting .294/.336/.446 as the everyday shortstop.
Meanwhile, the Reds’ left fielders rank 13th among the NL’s 16 teams in OPS, while the team’s shortstops are dead last.
I’m not going to slam Baker here. None of those Triple-A players are sure things, and if the Reds do decide to make a change in left field, they might well be better off just giving the job to Chris Heisey. Cozart is a better hitter than Paul Janish, and there’s a good argument for giving him Edgar Renteria’s roster spot. However, I wouldn’t count on him posting a .700 OPS in the majors and Janish is a terrific defender.
Since they play in the NL Central, the Reds can hold out for now. Maybe they will consider changes in a couple of weeks if no one steps up in the left field mix and if Janish continues to slump.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.