Rookie manager Bryan Price miscalculated how important it was for his Cincinnati Reds to emerge from the All-Star with the kind of focus and determination that had led his team to enter the All-Star break seven games over .500 and just 1-1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.
Instead of starting Johnny Cueto in the first game back from the All-Star break, Price elected to run Mike Leake out to the mound. It would’ve been the fifth day for Cueto since his last start before the break, but Price opted to pitch Cueto in the third game back instead.
Now that the Reds have lost six in a row since the break, the fact that Cueto, instead of Leake, could’ve pitched in two of them should be a lesson that Price takes to heart the next time any similar situation surfaces.
The Reds had some injury concern regarding Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, but, again, Price could’ve had Cueto, Alfredo Simon and Latos as his first three starters out of the chute. The results may not have changed, but pitching Cueto instead of Leake two out of the six games would’ve increased the Reds chances to win at least one of those first six games.
Regardless of the mistake by Price, the Reds rotation has not been the dominating one that was featured prior to the All-Star break. The Reds’ starters had the third lowest ERA (3.31) in the NL prior to the All-Star break, but since have seen their starting quintet of Leake, Cueto, Simon, Latos and Bailey post a collective 4.75 ERA over an innings pitched average of just six per start.
If the Reds can tighten up their normally outstanding defense and have their rotation regain their dominance, the Reds might be able to fight their way through having one of the worst offenses in baseball until Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto return.