After a tough luck series in which we dropped two out of three (both in extra innings), we continue interleague play at home in a three-game set with the Cincinnati Reds. If we can take this series we should be back in business this weekend, when Philly tries for revenge on us at Skydome. The series opens tomorrow night, when Brian Tallet starts on short rest against Reds
pinch hitter starter Micah Owings. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, the Jays send Scott Richmond (on an extra day's rest because of his unsuccessful relief appearance on Saturday) and Brett Cecil out, while the Reds counter with Br andonson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto, respectively. It will be important to get off to a good start tomorrow night, because Arroyo and Cueto are both capable of shutdown performances.
Micah Owings (4-7, 4.50, 1.528 WHIP)
The Tulane alumnus is probably as well known for his hitting prowess (a lifetime .305 / .337 / .552, with 7 HR in 166 plate appearances) as for his pitching ability. And, although we're playing in an AL park, we might see him bat. It would not necessarily be a bad idea if the Reds use their DH to hit for SS Alex Gonzalez (no, not that one), 3B Adam Rosales or CF Wily Taveras. Micah Owings is probably a better hitter than any of the three, although Taveras does add quite a bit of speed. While his batting line is impressive, the strikeout-rate of 5.4 K/9 and walk-rate of 4.3 BB/9 that he's posted thus far are less impressive. For a pitcher with such undesirable peripherals, though, his strand-rate of 73% is quite good, though that's likely to come down soon. Owings is also a fly-ball pitcher with less than a 40% ground-ball rate, which could bode quite well for a rested Jays offence tomorrow night.
So far this season, Owings has PQSed 1, 0, 5, 1, 4, 4, 3, 0, 2, 2, 5, 3 and 3, for an unimpressive PQS-mean of 2.5 and Dominance-/Disaster-rates of 31% and 23%, respectively. While I personally think Owings is fun to watch (though this is more for his hitting than his pitching), it would not shock me terribly if the Jays added to that disaster-rate.
The righthanded Owings has been hit hard by lefties (.273 / .351 / .456; 1.49 K/BB) but has kept righties mostly in check (.240 / .322 / .391; 2.39 K/BB) throughout his career. So far this season, he has done the same, but has managed to reduce his gopher balls to lefties (just 2 HR in 146 plate appearances). That has, of course, come with a K/BB-rate of 1.0, though, so he may just be trying to keep the ball off the plate against power-hitting lefties.
Owings is a three-pitch pitcher whose arsenal features average fastball in the high-80's and a decent change. He also throws a slider, but his fastball is probably his best pitch. When your best pitch is a fastball that can just touch 90 mph, you're probably in trouble. Don't be surprised if Owings becomes an outfielder in the next few years.
Bronson Arroyo (8-5, 5.16, 1.393 WHIP)
The ultra-sensitive Arroyo (does anyone else remember how three or four years ago FOX showed him play that Oasis song seemingly every Saturday?) has put together a pretty solid resume outside of his britpop-shredding, with 79 career wins and 4.36 career ERA (106 ERA+, two points higher than Catfish Hunter's!). Arroyo could be in the decline phase of his career, however, as his strikeout-rate has declined to just 4.9 K/9 (48 K in 89 IP vs. 6.2 K/9 career). Combine that with a walk-rate higher than he's ever had since he was a fulltime starter (3.3 BB/9 in 2009 vs. 2.8 BB/9 career) and Arroyo is either starting slow, having a bad year or could be cashing in his chips soon. Fortunately for him, he's guaranteed $11 M in 2010. The Jays have hit Arroyo hard (5.84 career ERA in 10 starts), so hopefully that trend continues Wednesday night.
Arroyo's PQSed 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 0, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 3, 1 and 4 this season for a mean of 2.6 and Dominance- and Disaster-rates of 21% each. As you might expect from a pitcher with a 5.47 FIP, those numbers are not good, but he has worked pretty deep in some games, going at least seven innings seven times, including three times when he went at least eight.
Like Owings, Arroyo has been hit hard by lefties (.288 / .352 / .477; 1.44 K/BB), but has been pretty good against righties (.249 / .307 / .398; 3.03 K/BB) throughout his career. Lefties have hit him even harder this season to the tune of an 844 OPS and righties have done pretty well, too (758 OPS), in spite of just a .243 BABIP.
Arroyo's fastball, which was never very good, has been even worse as he turned over the wrong side of 30. He does use the two-seamer to generate grounders, but he is quite lucky if he can touch 90 with it, so he uses it as sparingly as possible. He throws a change that comes in around the speed of a crawl that he uses against lefties when he's locating it well. His best pitches, though, are his curve and his slider, which can be relatively deceptive coming out of his ridiculous toe-pointing delivery.
Johnny Cueto (6-4, 2.55, 1.124 WHIP)
The 23 year-old righty from the Dominican Republic has a full year of major league experience under his belt now and he's been markedly better than he was last season. His peripherals this season (6.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9) are solid, but certainly do not support his very tidy 2.55 ERA. Look for that to rise closer to his still-decent FIP of 4.18 as the season progresses. He has kept hitters from making good contact thus far, as they have just a 16.5% linedrive-rate against him. Nonetheless, his .256 BABIP will likely increase, even if he can keep them from hitting the ball solidly as well as he has so far. His strand-rate will come down from its incredibly high 81% before the season is over, which will also contribute to a rise in ERA.
In his 14 starts so far, Cueto has PQSed 4, 0, 4, 5, 5, 3, 3, 4, 5, 2, 3, 4, 4 and 0 for a very nice mean of 3.3 and an excellent Dominance-rate of 57% against a Disaster-rate of just 14%.
So far, Cueto's been about equally effective against both lefties (.238 / .333 / .430; 1.73 K/BB) and righties (.265 / .318 / .443; 3.64 K/BB), but as those K/BB ratios sugges, this has been in large part due to a difference in BABIP of .305 vs. righties as opposed to a much tidier .265 vs. lefties. Lefties produced an higher BABIP than righties (.323 vs. .291) against him in the minors, so we could just be seeing an artifact of a small sample size so far in the majors.
Cueto, like Owings, is a three-pitch pitcher, but he has an above-average fastball (low-90's and with some nice downward movement to generate grounders) and a very good slider. His change is nothing special but he does use it to keep lefties from getting too comfortable and locking in on his fastball. Look for him to back-door his slider against them with two strikes, as well.