With their playoff hopes fading, the Cincinnati Reds are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline as they start to rebuild.
Billy Hamilton is expected to a part of the team’s future, and in the meantime he’ll look to continue tormenting the Colorado Rockies as the Reds try to cap this three-game set with back-to-back wins Sunday.
Cincinnati (43-52) seems on its way to missing the postseason for a second straight year, sitting nine games back of San Francisco in the wild-card race with five other teams in between.
That’s far enough off the pace that the Reds are expected to begin unloading players prior to Friday’s trade deadline.
Hamilton shouldn’t be among those leaving.
The 24-year-old center fielder leads the majors with 46 stolen bases after setting a Reds rookie record with 56 last year.
He’s been on a tear at the plate lately, going 9 for 20 with four RBIs in five games and he’s a .429 hitter (18 for 42) with four stolen bases in 12 games against the Rockies (41-54).
Hamilton had three hits and two runs in Saturday’s 5-2 win at Colorado and his speed created major problems. He sparked a four-run third inning by beating a throw to first on a leadoff single and stole second before scoring again in the next inning.
"Hamilton creates some havoc with his speed. We had a hard time containing him," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Michael Lorenzen (3-4, 3.77 ERA) gets the ball and the rookie is another candidate to be part of a rebuilding effort.
The right-hander allowed one run and two hits in seven innings while not getting a decision in a 2-1 home win over Colorado on May 26.
He has a 2.04 ERA in his last three road starts but he’s split two decisions over that span because he’s been backed by one run in the last two games.
Lorenzen didn’t get a decision in Monday’s 5-4 home win against the Chicago Cubs, giving up four runs and seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks in five innings.
The Rockies have dropped five of seven but might be more concerned with the health of Nolan Arenado, who was hit in the left hand with a 96-mph fastball from Johnny Cueto on Saturday.
"X-rays were negative, but his hand started swelling up," said Weiss, who lifted the third baseman for a pinch-hitter in the ninth. "Just wanted to get him out of there."
Arenado is among baseball’s leaders with career highs of 24 homers and 72 RBIs. He’s 13 for 29 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last eight meetings with Cincinnati.
The Rockies are turning to Kyle Kendrick (3-11, 6.12), who is tied with three other pitchers for the most losses in the majors and his ERA is only lower than Milwaukee’s Kyle Lohse (6.29).
Kendrick has a 7.02 ERA while going 0-2 over his last four starts after being hammered for six runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings of Tuesday’s 9-0 loss to Texas.
The right-hander has a 4.87 ERA while losing two of his last three starts against the Reds. However, he won at Cincinnati on May 27, yielding four runs and two homers in 7 1-3 innings for his longest outing of the season.
He’s had a tough time with Hamilton, who is 3 for 6 off him.