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Good Work By Wainwright at Home. Now, What About the Road Work?

Checking in with some Bird Bytes…

That was an encouraging start for Adam Wainwright against the Brewers on Wednesday, and it doesn’t matter if he faced a lineup weakened by injuries to star outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. After a disturbing performance in his first start of the season, Wainwright found his fastball and his control to put a three-run cap on the Brewers for seven innings. The best thing? No walks.

But I suppose this is the part where I have to be the worst human being alive (again) by pointing out something: since the start of the 2016 season, Wainwright has made 58 starts. And there’s an even split, with 29 starts on the road, and 29 at Busch Stadium. Even in the most challenging of times, Wainwright has pitched well at Busch, taking advantage of the pitcher-friendly atmosphere. But on the road, where Wainwright has basically served up batting practice, his numbers are cover-your-eyes bad.

Let’s look…

WAINO’S  BUSCH  BASH! (Happy Face) 

29 starts, 18 quality starts

3.27 ERA

Opponents .262 average, .319 OBP .370 SLG, .689 OPS

2.61 K-BB ratio

1.31 WHIP

0.50  homers per 9 IP

And …

WAINO GETS BASHED (Sad Face) 

29 starts, 9 quality starts

6.62 ERA

Opponents .313 average, .370 OBP, .533 SLG,  .903 OPS

2.27 K-BB

1.64 homers per 9 innings

Or to put this into perspective in a different sort of way, look at it like this …

In terms of ERA, when Wainwright has pitched at Busch Stadium the last two-plus seasons, he’s Bert Blyleven (Hall of Famer, 3.31 ERA). And when Waino pitches on the road, he’s the 2005 Eric Milton (6.62 ERA, 40 homers allowed.)

Wainwright’s next start is scheduled for Monday at Wrigley Field. He’ll face Cubs lefty Jon Lester. Waino has made three starts at Wrigley since June 2016; two of the three were quality starts. The other, on Aug. 12 of 2016, he lasted two innings and was hit for seven runs.

Wainwright is definitely throwing better, and he was consistently in the low 90s (mph) with his fastballs against the Brewers, so there’s a reason for cautious optimism. His start against the Cubs will be interesting, to say the least.

READING TIME,  5 MINUTES: 

Wainwright’s 7 innings vs. the Brewers were on time; he gave a break to the team’s bullpen and an edge to the Cardinals tonight in their first game in Cincinnati — because the Reds used six relievers in a 12-inning loss at Philadelphia on Thursday night…

The top three spots in the Cardinals lineup was supposed to ignite the offense, producing runs, or setting up runs, at a prolific rate. But Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham and Matt Carpenter off to a dull start as a trio. (Paul DeJong also batted second for one game). Going into Thursday’s game, as 1-2-3 hitters the St. Louis group is batting .199 (28th among 30 teams), has a .307 OBP (26th), is slugging .348 (26th), is 27th in OPS (.655), and is 13 percent below the league average in park-adjusted runs created. Moreover, the 1-2-3 spots have combined to strike out in 26 percent of their plate appearances. They’ll do better … they have to do better…

Last season in early June, after manager Mike Matheny put Matt Carpenter back at leadoff, with Dexter Fowler often hitting second, and Tommy Pham hitting third, the top three slots in the Cards lineup combined for a .281 average. .381 OBP, .479 slug, and were 29 percent above average based on park-adjusted runs created…

The Cardinals are batting .154 vs LHP this season, worst in the majors… the Cards have scored 8 runs from the 7th inning on in their first 12 games; in the majors only Kansas City (5) has scored fewer … and Cardinals’ hitters have the worst strikeout rate in the majors from the 7th inning on; getting punched out on a preposterous 31 percent of their plate appearances in those situations…

My goodness: the Reds are a mess, and a damned bloody mess at that … they’ve lost four in a row, have a 2-9 record, have been outscored by 31 runs… they have the worst overall ERA in the majors (5.59) and are 28th in runs scored per game (3.09). “That’s a bad combination if you want to win more than you lose,” Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters. “Those things have to change.”

The Reds began the 2018 season with six pitchers on the disabled list — and they’re all still there including starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani, Rookie Davis and Brandon Finnegan and relievers Michael Lorenzen. and Kevin Shackelford…because of injuries and general lousiness of the starting pitchers, the Reds have used 26 different starters since the beginning of 2016, and those starters have combined for a hideous 5.17 ERA that’s the worst by any MLB rotation over that time. Reds starters have also been smacked around for the most homers (325), fattest slugging percentage (.481) and worst OPS (.826) over the last two-plus seasons. but at least Homer Bailey is finally back and throwing well (3.24 ERA so far) …

Joey Votto is off to a cold start, batting .273 with no extra base hits … Adam Duvall is batting .108 with 16 strikeouts in 37 at-bats … Billy Hamilton is batting .156 with a terrible .270 OBP … and both Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler are on the DL after being struck by pitches. Schebler should be back pretty soon. But Suarez, the Reds’ fine third baseman, will be out perhaps as long as two months with a broken right thumb. Last season Schebler and Suarez combined to hit 56 homers and drive in 159 runs…

Some in the Cincinnati media (and elsewhere) are saying the Reds should change managers. But that seems useless considering the team’s rebuild-mode situation and an especially vicious assault to the roster because of injuries. “I think everyone’s frustrated,” Votto told our friend C. Trent Rosecrans, the superb baseball writer for The Athletic. “I think everybody from the lowest level in the Arizona rookie league and extended all the way up to ownership is frustrated and we do expect change and change will come.”

To be clear, Votto wasn’t talking about changing the manager. “I 100 percent don’t think it’s fair, I completely disagree with that approach all the way around,” Votto told The Athletic. “I know every team is their own story, but he can’t hit or pitch for us, defend for us, run the bases for us, come through for us in a big situation offensively with runners on base. That’s something we’ve come up short on. That’s our responsibility, that’s always our responsibility. At no point have I felt like it’s been anything but our own responsibility and our own failing these last four or five years.”

The Reds have the worst record in the majors (.412 winning percentage) since the start of the 2016 season. But they’ve played the Cardinals tough, going 18-20 including an 10-9 mark at Great American Ball Park.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

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