Is it time for Reds to demote Edinson Volquez?

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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.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.