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.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?