Reds’ ‘Mr. May’ Jay Bruce smashes 12th homer of month

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They’re calling Jay Bruce “Mr. May” in Cincinnati. And for good reason.

The 24-year-old Reds outfielder has had an amazing month, carrying the Reds offense. In Cincinnati’s 7-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, Bruce was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, falling a double short of the cycle.

He’s bashed 12 home runs and driven in 32 runs in May while hitting .346. He’s two short of the team record for home runs in a month, shared by Frank Robinson (August, 1962) and Greg Vaughn (Sept. 1999). But the Reds play the Brewers again on Tuesday, so don’t rule him out just yet. Two home runs? It doesn’t seem impossible the way Bruce is swinging the bat.

Bruce has a career OPS of .814 (.901 this season), but has been prone to chasing bad pitches during his four-year career. But not so much this season, according to the man himself, as told to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“I’ve been making better decisions, which is one of the big things,” Bruce said. “It’s cliché and all that, but it’s the truth. Swing at pitches you want to swing at and don’t swing at the pitches they’re trying to get you to chase, and you’re going to have a lot easier time up there.”

It’s not so much about recognizing the strike zone – a quick trip over to Fangraphs reveals that Bruce is swinging at 29.1 percent of pitches out of the zone, just 0.2 percent below his 2010 level – but that he is swinging at, and crushing, pitches that he likes, whether they are in the zone or not. Bruce’s contact rate on pitches outside the zone is 61.6 percent (up from 53.2 percent for his career), and his overall contact rate is 76.2 percent (compared to 74.1).

Whatever the reason for Bruce’s hot streak, the Reds like what they see.

“It just shows his potential, what he can do,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the Enquirer. “His concentration is great, his balance is excellent and he’s keeping his head still. It’s really nice to see him swinging great.”

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Odúbel Herrera dealing with strained left hamstring

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Phillies center fielder Odúbel Herrera is dealing with a slight strain of his left hamstring, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Herrera apparently had been dealing with some discomfort in that area starting a couple weeks ago and underwent an MRI.

Herrera, 27, is coming off a 2018 season in which he took a step back. He hit slightly below the league average at .255/.310/.420 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI in 597 plate appearances. He is entering the third year of his five-year, $30.5 million contract signed back in December 2016.

Herrera is slated to be the club’s starting center fielder once again. In the event his hamstring issue lingers, Roman Quinn would slide into the starting role. One wonders, though, if a less-than-100-percent Herrera might further entice the Phillies to go after free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.