Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland Indians finished off a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. There were a lot of reasons why the game wound up 12-4, but a big one was the poor performance of Reds starter Edinson Volquez, who allowed seven runs before departing after 2-2/3 innings. Volquez left having put his team six runs behind, and as if that weren't bad enough, he also chose to deflect blame from himself and toward his teammates during a postgame interview.
"I think everybody has to step up and start getting some runs," Volquez said. "The last five games, we've scored how many runs? Thirteen [actually 12] in five games? It's not the way we were playing last year. We're better than that."
Volquez's remarks caused something of a stir, and now on Monday, word's out that the Reds have demoted Volquez to AAA.
One figures that Volquez's postgame comments didn't improve his standing in any way. But then, even if Volquez were an absolute saint, there's no denying the fact that his numbers to date are demotion-worthy. Volquez has thrown 51 innings over ten starts, with 38 walks. He has the worst walk rate in baseball. He has the third-worst ERA. Perhaps most alarming is that, of the 38 runs Volquez has allowed, 21 have scored in the first inning. Whether right or wrong, it all paints the picture of a guy who's inconsistent with his mechanics and unprepared to begin his games.
It's quite the fall for a power righty who was teetering on ace-hood back in 2008. Since then, he's undergone Tommy John surgery and failed to progress, actually taking a step back in his performance leading up to this demotion. You have to wonder if Volquez will ever get back to what he was, never mind becoming something better.
Fortunately for Cincinnati, there are encouraging signs that Old Volquez still lingers somewhere within Current Volquez. For one thing, he hasn't lost any of his stuff. Volquez still throws a mid-90s fastball that can reach 97-98. He still has the good change. He still has the sharp breaking ball. Volquez's repertoire, by and large, is intact.
And in addition, there's also this data table:
Volquez hasn't actually been throwing that many fewer strikes this year than he did in 2008, and he's been just as difficult to hit. It's not like batters are suddenly having an easy time squaring him up and blasting him around the ballpark.
So Volquez's necessary elements are there. He just hasn't been able to put them back together in Cincinnati. There's no guarantee a trip to Louisville will work, but it might, and it's better than having Volquez continue to struggle in the big league rotation, or hide in the bullpen
While Volquez is away trying to find himself in the minors, the expectation is that his starts in Cincinnati will go to Sam LeCure, who's posted a 3.18 ERA over 34 innings with eight walks and 30 strikeouts. Matt Maloney is another option, but he's pitched far worse.