BALTIMORE — Anyone paying attention to the Cincinnati Reds the last three weeks has had the privilege of seeing the most impactful rookie performance of the year over that stretch for a team that has had 11 players make big-league debuts among 14 rookies to take the field before the halfway mark in the season.
And for those scoring at home, that player’s name is not Elly De La Cruz.
In the every-fifth-day shadow of the pomp and spectacle that is De La Cruz’s jaw-dropping talent, rookie pitcher Andrew Abbott has pretty much kept the Reds’ sudden midseason relevance afloat on the strength of one very effective left arm.
“We definitely looked forward to having Andrew on the mound tonight,” manager David Bell said.
For the fifth time in five starts since a June 5 debut, Abbott delivered a stellar start, this time allowing just one run over six innings in a 3-1 victory over the October-minded Baltimore Orioles, snapping the the Reds’ three-game losing streak.
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For anyone who still thinks Abbott has not had a bigger impact than De La Cruz, the reigning National League Player of the Week who debuted the day after Abbott did, read the end of that last sentence again.
And then consider, Abbott also snapped a four-game losing streak in his debut and a two-gamer in his second start.
No other Reds starter has started a game this month that ended a losing streak. If that doesn’t make Andrew Abbott the ace of this staff right now, it certainly makes him the stopper.
“I wouldn’t really consider it a stopper,” Abbott demurred. “I would just say we needed a little bit of length for the bullpen.”
Yeah, no. Wrong. He’s the stopper right now. At the very least.
“That’s important to have a pitcher in your rotation like that you feel you can count on,” said Bell, who has only four healthy starters now, with a decision to make before he needs a fifth one next week.
“He just got here and is at the very beginning stages,” Bell added. “But it says a lot about — it’s really his presence. He carries himself with a lot of confidence, like he’s going to go out and pitch well. He knows it.
“That gives us confidence.”
Considering where this rotation might be without him, it makes Abbott at least the strongest force holding things together on the pitching side for this team — if not the savior.
With all due respect to the man Joey Votto calls “a young Mickey Mantle.”
Just take a look at Abbott’s five big league starts:
June 5 vs. MIL (2-0 win) — 6.0 IP, 0 R/ER, W
June 10 @ STL (8-4 win) — 5.2 IP, 0 R/ER, W
June 16 @ HOU (2-1 win) — 6.0 IP, 0 R/ER, W
June 21 vs. COL (5-3 win) — 6.0 IP, 3 R/ER, ND
Tuesday, @ BAL (3-1 win) — 6.0 IP, 1 R/ER, W
That’s 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA in five career starts and counting.
The rest of the starting rotation’s ERA in 75 other Reds starts this year: 6.27 and climbing.
The Reds are 5-0 when Abbott starts, 37-38 when he doesn’t, and the lefty has four of the Reds’ five quality starts in the last 23 games.
The other Reds pitcher with a quality start in that span is Hunter Greene — who went on the injured list last week and is expected to be out with a hip/back injury until August.
When Abbott closed his start Tuesday by retiring 12 of the last 13 he faced, he also lowered his season/career ERA to 1.21 — the lowest in a Red’s first five starts since Tom Browning’s 1.14 in 1984-85.
For a team with four healthy starters, who’s more impactful than the every-fifth-day stopper, the savior, the ace?
On Tuesday, rookie Matt McLain made a one-day case, doubling off the center-field wall in the third inning to drive home the tying run, and leading off the fifth with a go-ahead homer to right.
It left only one pertinent question for the Reds after securing their first win since their historic 12-game winning streak:
Can McLain pitch?
“I would get lit up if I pitch.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds’ Andrew Abbott beats Baltimore Orioles to snap skid
Source: Yahoo Sports