Cincinnati Reds wary of promoting relievers before they’re ready

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen entered Tuesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants on the brink of history — the wrong kind of history.

The group tied the 2013 Colorado Rockies for the modern day baseball record by allowing a run in a 20th consecutive game Monday. Reds relievers had a 6.54 ERA through Monday’s 9-6 loss. That’s the worst mark in baseball by more than a point. Padres relievers have a 5.27 ERA.

The Reds sent one of the relievers, Drew Hayes, back to Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday to make room on the roster for starting pitcher John Lamb, who replaced the ailing Jon Moscot (shoulder). Hayes had a 7.56 ERA in four appearances. J.J. Hoover (13.97) has the bullpen’s worst ERA. Ross Ohlendorf (6.00) has also struggled.

There are relievers putting up good numbers in Louisville. Steve Delabar has a 2.38 ERA in eight games. Layne Somsen has a 1.59 ERA in seven games. Dayan Diaz has a 1.93 ERA in seven games.

The Reds are keeping an eye on the progression of those pitchers, Reds manager Bryan Price, but they are wary of slowing their development by bringing them to the big leagues too early. The Reds knew this was a transition year. They’re sticking to the plan.

“The impetus is not to just grab the guy who’s pitching the best and get him up here as quick as possible,” Price said. “If we felt we were on the verge of winning the World Series, we would take more risk. Because of where we are, we’re not going to take the same risks early in the season.”

More Barnhart: With catcher Devin Mesoraco sidelined by a torn labrum in his left shoulder, Tucker Barnhart will play more, Price said. Barnhart is hitting .298 in 15 games.

“Obviously, I feel terrible for Devin,” Barnhart said, “but I have to take on a role of playing a lot more and something I’m ready to embrace. I think I go into every offseason preparing to play every day regardless of whether I’m going to play 40 games that season or 140 games that season or whatever in between.”

The backup catcher is Ramon Cabrera, who was promoted from Louisville on Monday. Cabrera, 26, hit .259 with the Bats. He hit .367 in 13 games with the Reds last September.

Series finale: Dan Straily (0-1, 3.38 ERA) will start the 12:35 p.m. game Wednesday against the Giants’ Jake Peavy (1-2, 8.61). This will be the seventh start for Straily. He lasted a season-long six innings and allowed two earned runs in his last start against the Pirates.

Looking ahead: The Reds will celebrate “Star Wars” weekend Friday through Sunday. Characters from the movies will greet fans around the ballpark.

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