Anthony DeSclafani has thus far looked like the better piece of the deal that sent him from Miami to Cincinnati in exchange for Mat Latos.
He’ll get a shot at continuing to prove that point in person Saturday night at Great American Ball Park as he pitches against his former club for the first time with his current team seeking extensions of a few winning streaks.
As a rookie with the Marlins, DeSclafani (5-4, 3.36 ERA) struggled to the tune of a 2-2 record and 6.27 ERA in five starts and eight relief appearances.
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The right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts after beginning the season 2-4 with a 3.80 through eight outings. He gave up a run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 2-1 loss at the Chicago Cubs – his fourth in five starts surrendering at most two runs.
One of the differences has been his walk rate dropping from 4.20 per nine innings to 2.48 over the last five. The other has been he hasn’t allowed a home run in that span, and his 0.46 home runs per nine is near the top of the majors.
The Reds would be happier even with the less favorable stretch than with what Latos has given Miami – a 2-4 record and 5.37 ERA. Rather than facing Latos, DeSclafani is up against Tom Koehler, who like his former teammate has improved as the season has progressed.
After limiting the New York Yankees to a run and three hits in seven innings of Monday’s 2-1 victory, Koehler (5-4, 3.76) is 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA in seven starts and a relief appearance. He had been 2-3 with a 5.18 through his first six starts, and his manager is recognizing the emerging consistency.
"I know I say the same word every time, but he’s just gritty and he’s gutty and he battles through," Marlins manager Dan Jennings told MLB’s official website. "He had his curveball working out there and worked both sides of the plate. He grinded through seven innings and gave us everything he had."
The more relevant splits, however, could be his 3-1 record and 1.52 ERA at home vs. 2-3 with a 6.21 on the road. DeSclafani has been the opposite though not quite as drastic, going 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA on the road and 2-2 with a 4.45 at home.
Koehler lost his only career start against Cincinnati last season, but in three games and a total of 10 1-3 innings, he’s limited the Reds to two unearned runs and six hits. Marlon Byrd is 0 for 8 against him.
Byrd, who broke his right wrist on a hit-by-pitch on June 2, returned to the Cincinnati lineup in Friday’s 5-0 series-opening win and contributed immediately with a solo home run.
"Extremely happy and surprised, a combination," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It just came along faster than we ever anticipated."
The Reds (31-35) also got two hits from Todd Frazier, who’s batting .411 with 14 RBIs in his last 13 games. At home, the third baseman is batting .510 with six homers and 15 RBIs in his last 12 games.
The club can match its longest streak of the season while also winning a seventh straight home game for the first time since May 2011.
Cincinnati has won 11 of 15 against Miami (29-40), which has the opposite of the Reds’ streaks, dropping three straight overall and six on the road. The Marlins last lost seven on the road to begin 2014.