Connect with us

Cincinnati Reds

Abbott labors through short start in key game vs. Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — August 29, 2023 – (content by Sonja Chen,

Midway through a do-or-die stretch that could have an outsized impact on their playoff aspirations, not much has gone right for the Reds.

After a disheartening weekend series in Arizona and an ill-timed oblique strain for rookie Matt McLain, Cincinnati’s misfortunes of late continued in a 4-1 series-opening loss to San Francisco on Monday night.

Heading into the three-game set at Oracle Park, the Reds and Giants were in a virtual tie, both just outside the trio of National League Wild Card spots. Now, Cincinnati remains 1 1/2 games back of the third spot but must win the final two games of the series to hold the tiebreaker over San Francisco.

The Reds have stumbled so far in their stretch of three straight series against fellow contenders, dropping three of four to the D-backs and falling in the opener against the Giants. Once they return to Great American Ball Park, they’ll host the Cubs — who hold the second Wild Card spot — for four games.

As Cincinnati has positioned itself to battle for its first playoff berth since 2020, the team has relied on its offense to offset a pitching staff whose 4.74 ERA ranks 25th in the Majors. The Reds faltered in that regard on Monday night, running into a buzzsaw in Giants rookie left-hander Kyle Harrison, who fanned 11 batters in his second big league start.

Harrison’s brilliance on the mound sharply contrasted with a lackluster performance from fellow rookie Andrew Abbott, who allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over 3 1/3 frames. Abbott labored in two turns through the Giants’ order on Monday, with a 32-pitch first inning setting the tone.

After recording only one out in the fourth on Monday, Abbott has thrown 142 2/3 innings between the Majors (88 2/3) and the Minors (54) this year. That’s already 24 1/3 more innings than he pitched in 2022 — his first full professional season — with a full month yet to be played.

“Fatigue is a factor for everyone at this point in the year,” manager David Bell said. “I’m not sure that we know that that is a factor for Andrew, but we’ll keep talking, make good decisions for him.”

It’s not unreasonable for Abbott to feel fatigue from his heaviest workload to date, though he denied that it had any effect on his recent performance.

“No, I feel great,” he said.

Abbott further clarified that he believes poor execution, not fatigue, has been behind his overall decline in results in August.

“My good games are when I locate well, and my bad games have been when I don’t locate, get into deep counts and walk guys,” Abbott said. “Teams take advantage of that here in MLB.”

At this point in the season, just about everyone is playing through something, whether it be general fatigue or lingering injuries. That is often especially true for rookies experiencing everyday life in the big leagues for the first time.

The picture grows even more complicated for contending teams in the midst of a stretch run, leaving coaching staffs around the league to piece together a tenuous balance of short-term team success with long-term individual health.

Bell did not say if the team was considering limiting Abbott’s innings as his workload continues to grow.

“We’re tracking everything. We’ve got to take everything into consideration,” Bell said. “We also don’t want to take anything away from players, having the experience of playing when you’re fatigued, having the experience of playing important games when you don’t feel great all the time.

“But we’re going to do what’s best for each and every one of our players, both to give ourselves a chance to win but also individually make sure we’re taking care of guys.”

At 24 years old, with just a few months of big league experience under his belt, Abbott is aware that growing pains only go away with time and work.

“I still think the experience is coming,” Abbott said. “I know I’m in a lull right now, but it’s just about coming to the field ready to go, being there for the team and sticking true to my routine and what I can do, knowing that when I get those kind of changes figured out, then I’m going to be right back ready to roll.”

Sponsored By

More in Cincinnati Reds