On Sunday afternoon, I sat down to watch the beginning of the Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. Edinson Volquez was on the mound for the Reds and this is how the bottom of the first inning went…
1. Andrew McCutchen—HR to right
2. Jose Tabata—HR to right
3. Lyle Overbay—Walk
4. Neil Walker—2B on a bomb to center
5. Pedro Alvarez—K
6. Garrett Jones—Walk
7. Chris Snyder—Walk
8. Ronny Cedeno—Fly-out to deep center
9. Jeff Karstens—K
So to sum up that first inning, Volquez allowed two home runs, three walks and four runs. However, to those who have been following the Reds this season, Volquez’s meltdown in the first inning should come as no surprise.
In the first innings of his four starts this season, Volquez has a 29.25 ERA. He has given up 12 hits, four home runs and eight walks in 32 plate appearances against. That’s really bad.
As a matter of fact, when McCutchen and Tabata (becoming a star) went back-to-back in the first, this was the second time this season that Volquez allowed back-to-back home runs to start the game. He allowed back-to-back homers to Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez in his first start of the season.
It’s a shame Volquez struggles in the first, because he is really good the rest of the game. He has a 1.93 ERA after the opening frame.
If you go back in Volquez’s past, his first-inning issues really started back in 2009. He had a 9.00 ERA in nine starts that season, and in 2010, coming back from Tommy John surgery, Volquez had a 6.17 ERA in 12 starts.
The last time Volquez was effective in the first was 2008. He had a 1.97 first-inning ERA.
I am not sure how to explain Volquez’s struggles in the first. The Reds’ broadcast team mentioned that he was trying to change his routine by doing things, like warming up earlier. Whatever he did, it didn’t seem to help on Sunday.
My best guess is that it’s all mental. Once it’s in your head that you struggle with something, it usually snowballs. And that’s what appears to be happening with Volquez.
I am sure he will get better in the first as the year goes on. Volquez is too good in the other innings not to eventually figure things out.
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