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May 23, 2012

What You Need to Know

Wednesday, May 23

by Daniel Rathman

The Tuesday Takeaway
Brandon Beachy came into yesterday’s game against the Reds having allowed just one home run in 54 innings this season. Great American Ball Park took care of that. Michael Bourn came into yesterday’s game against the Reds having hit just one home run in 201 plate appearances this season. Great American Ball Park took care of that, too.

By the time the Reds were celebrating their 4-3 win, Beachy had served up three long balls—a pair to Brandon Phillips and one to Zack Cozart—and Bourn had mashed two. Beachy’s home-runs-allowed figure had quadrupled. Bourn’s home-runs-hit mark had tripled.

We might have seen the former coming, considering that only 1.7 percent of the fly balls Beachy had induced to date had found their way over a fence. His 1.33 ERA belied a 3.82 xFIP that suggested a major regression was in store. Perhaps it’s best for Beachy that Great American Ball Park got it out of the way all at once.

We certainly could not have foreseen the latter, though, considering that Bourn had not homered more than twice in a season since 2009. In one night, Bourn equaled his 2010 and 2011 home-run outputs, and exceeded his 2007 total. One-eighth of his 16 major-league home runs came in his 760th major-league game.

Meanwhile, the Reds have now combined to hit seven homers in the first two games of this series. Tommy Hanson might want to do some neck stretches before he takes the mound tonight looking to avoid a sweep.

What to Watch for on Wednesday

  • Barry Zito hates badgers, is lactose intolerant, roots for the Chicago Bears, and prefers Bud to Miller—or so you might think based on his aversion to pitching in Wisconsin. The lefty is 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in six career starts at Miller Park, and his 6.17 FIP over those 28 2/3 innings doesn’t exactly portend brighter things to come. Look out for Ryan Braun, whose previous encounters with Zito have resulted in five hits—a double, a triple, and three homers—in 13 at-bats, this afternoon (1:10 p.m. ET).
  • Brian McCann was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with flu-like symptoms, but seeing Bronson Arroyo on the schedule for this evening (7:10 p.m. ET) should instantly cure whatever ails him. McCann’s 1.792 OPS with Arroyo on the mound—which includes a 9-for-18 line to go with four homers, five walks, and only one strikeout—is both his best against any pitcher (min. 20 PAs) and the top mark compiled by any hitter against the Reds’ right-hander (same).
  • Though Chris Sale’s transition to the rotation—then back to the bullpen, then back to the rotation—has largely been seamless, the third-year southpaw could stand to improve his efficiency. Sale needed 103 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings his last time out against the Angels, and he now runs into a hot Twins lineup (8:10 p.m. ET) that has scored nine or more runs in three of its last six games and at least four in all of them.
  • Andy Pettitte has made 21 career starts against the Royals and taken the loss in only three of them. The most recent of those three defeats came on August 18, 1999, when—as you may recall from yesterday’s What You Need to KnowDan Reichert contributed seven innings toward a 3-0 shutout win, the most recent blanking Kansas City had recorded in the Bronx until two nights ago. Tonight (7:05 p.m. ET), Pettitte meets 22-year-old Will Smith, who will be making his major-league debut in place of the ineffective Luis Mendoza.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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