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Reds Get Help From Surprise Source

August 13, 2006 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

It takes talent, perseverance, luck and unexpected contributions to get to the postseason in baseball. Yesterday, the Reds were able to defeat the Phillies in a huge game thanks to some serious luck: they got an unexpected fantastic performance from a veteran crafty lefty who knows a thing or two about perseverance.

Chris Michalak, a 35-year-old veteran just brought up yesterday from Triple-A when Kent Mercker landed on the DL, threw 6.2 innings of three-hit, one-run ball to help the Reds hold off Philadelphia and ultimately earn a massive victory that allowed the club to maintain its tenuous Wild Card lead and stop the Phils from pulling within one game of them.

Despite being thrown right into a playoff-type environment, Michalak was able to win his first game since 2001. “It makes all the years in the minors and all the hard work worthwhile,” he said.

Michalak, originally taken by Oakland with the 349th pick of the 1993 draft, has been with 11 different organizations, not including three stints with Arizona and two with the Rangers. Obviously, he is well versed on living out of a suitcase. Michalak last appeared in the majors in 2002 with Texas, but this season he was enjoying his finest Triple-A campaign, going 9-5, 2.99 with 61 strikeouts at Louisville to earn the call.

Cincinnati was forced to virtually empty the bullpen (even using yesterday’s starter Elizardo Ramirez in relief) on Friday night in a 14-inning marathon, so Michalak’s performance was all the more vital when Ramirez could only last an inning and a third before relief was needed.

If the Reds do in fact hold on and win the Wild Card or perhaps even take the Central division outright, a gritty performance by an aging journeyman lefty one August afternoon could very well prove to be one of the turning points.

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One Response to “Reds Get Help From Surprise Source”

  1. [...] To the surprise of almost no one, Washington is having serious issues with its pitching, currently ranked 15th in WHIP, 15th in quality starts and 14th in ERA in the NL. Shawn Hill has been excellent and Jason Bergmann has been a revelation (for now), but the rest of the rotation is a mess. Matt Chico is suffering from serious control problems; “ace” John Patterson has been simply awful and is dealing with biceps soreness; and Jerome Williams has landed on the DL with a sprained ankle, sparing the team of his ugly command issues for the time being. As we discussed just before spring training started, Washington’s strategy was to go with the cast of thousands approach to build a rotation. Well, it may be time to reshuffle those deck chairs on this particular sinking ship, but don’t count on Chris Michalak getting the call. You may recall that Michalak emerged out of the blue last year to help out the Reds, but he’s currently on the DL for Triple-A Columbus with a strained quadriceps and wasn’t exactly off to a blazing start before getting hurt (6.00 ERA). So who do the Nats turn to? Joel Hanrahan, projected to make the rotation, but slapped around in spring training and sent down, has been superb (1-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.94 WHIP in four starts), but he’s also on the DL. Another option is Emiliano Fruto, 2-1, 3.08, who has been virtually unhittable (10 hits in 26 1/3 innings), but his control problems are holding him back (20 walks) and obviously the Nats already have enough pitchers who can’t find the strike zone. That leaves veteran lefty Mike Bacsik (1-2, 3.16), who hasn’t been dominant (26 hits in 25 2/3 IP), but you have to love that command (21 K/3 BB). He’s only recently been forced into the Columbus rotation because of injuries, but he may soon be needed more with the parent club the way things are going. [...]

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