LaRue making pitchers better
By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MIAMI — Jason LaRue's status continues to rise as the pitchers' earned run average continues to shrink.
The Reds began Saturday with a 4.41 team ERA, sixth-best in the league and their lowest since the second game of the season. A primary source of this improvement is LaRue, who caught his third shutout in 14 starts Friday night in Cincinnati's series-opening 6-0 victory over the Florida Marlins. The Reds have only four shutouts in their 114 other games.
The statistical evidence of LaRue's impact doesn't end there. Entering Saturday, Reds pitchers have recorded a 2.79 ERA when he's behind the plate, compared to 4.44 with Benito Santiago and 4.71 with Eddie Taubensee.
This maintains a trend LaRue established as a rookie last year. His 3.81 “catcher's ERA” compared favorably with Taubensee's 3.78 and eclipsed Brian Johnson's 4.93.
With a .156 batting average in 14 games, LaRue is still developing his offensive skills. But as long as he plays well defensively, staying employed shouldn't be a problem. Though LaRue began the season with Triple-A Louisville, he may never see the minor leagues again at the current rate.
“He follows Gully's game plan pretty closely,” Reds manager Jack McKeon said of LaRue, referring to pitching coach Don Gullett's supervision. “When (LaRue) needs guidance, he looks over.”