Cincinnati Reds rookie right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez has answered winning five of six decisions by struggling in each of his last two starts.
Gutierrez has surrendered a total of nine runs (eight earned) in 6 1/3 innings in back-to-back losses.
The Reds hope to get the version of Gutierrez they’ve seen for much of the second half of the season entering Wednesday’s series finale against the host Chicago Cubs.
“Just continue to stay confident,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I mean, he’s had a really solid season; really a great season for us and he’s come up huge for us. Keeping all that in mind and realizing where he’s at, and you can see the end now.”
Cincinnati (74-66) posted a 4-3 victory over Chicago (64-76) on Tuesday to square the series at one victory apiece. The defeat snapped the Cubs’ season-high seven-game winning streak.
Getting more consistency from Gutierrez (9-6, 4.17 ERA) figures to go a long way as the Reds seek to snap a skid of four consecutive series defeats.
Gutierrez is 1-2 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts against the Cubs this season, with three home runs allowed and 15 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.
Facing the visiting Detroit Tigers on Friday night, Gutierrez yielded four runs (three earned) and four hits — including two homers — in 3 1/3 innings. Gutierrez said that spotting his breaking ball has been especially challenging lately.
“I guess they’re making the adjustments right now that all my breaking balls are finishing (with the bat on the ball) and they’re making the adjustment to hit the ball,” Gutierrez said. “I just have to make the adjustment now as well. The ones that don’t make the adjustment aren’t going to survive in the league. For me, I just have to make those adjustments from now on.”
A power-happy Cubs lineup awaits Wednesday night.
Willson Contreras, Rafael Ortega and Ian Happ each belted a solo homer. Happ went 3-for-4 while extending his hitting streak to eight games.
Contreras feels confident about the way the Cubs have jelled down the stretch.
“The energy is there,” Contreras said. “I haven’t felt this energy in a really long time, and I like what I see.”
Right-hander Alec Mills (6-6, 4.25 ERA) is set to get the call for Chicago as he makes his fourth appearance and third start of the season against Cincinnati.
Mills is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA versus the Reds this season and 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 10 career appearances, including seven starts.
The Cubs’ Jason Heyward (right hamstring) was a late scratch Tuesday.
Fellow outfielder Michael Hermosillo remained out of the lineup with an injured left forearm, but appeared as a pinch runner. Bench coach Andy Green said Hermosillo is day-to-day.
–Field Level Media