Cincinnati Reds: Mahle ready for first start of season

Reds starter Tyler Mahle pitches against the Rockies on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The rookie right-hander went 3-0 in June with a 2.18 ERA. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds starter Tyler Mahle pitches against the Rockies on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The rookie right-hander went 3-0 in June with a 2.18 ERA. David Jablonski/Staff

Fourth-year Red replaces Anthony DeSclafani in rotation

Tyler Mahle will have big cleats to fill when he takes the mound Tuesday for the Cincinnati Reds.

The first three Reds pitchers to start games this season — Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer — combined to strike out 33 batters, shattering the previous team record for strikeouts in the first three games by 10.

“It’s great,” Mahle said Monday. “For me, I expected it. You run those three guys out there and then Wade (Miley) today, and they’re going to put together good starts. So far we’ve put together three great starts. We definitely expect to keep it going.”

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Mahle, 25, begins his fourth season with the Reds as a replacement in the starting rotation for Anthony DeSclafani, who’s expected to miss one start with a mild right teres major (upper arm muscle) strain. Mahle was 3-12 with a 5.14 ERA last season in 25 starts.

“I feel great right now,” Mahle said. “I feel good. I’m really happy with where my stuff’s at. Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there and put a good start together and get as many outs as I can before my outing’s over. I assume when Disco gets back and I’m in the pen, I’m going to look at it the same way.”

Bullpen management: It’s a small sample size, but through the first weekend of the season, the Reds bullpen ranked tied for 28th out of 30 teams in ERA (7.27). In the first three games, Reds relievers allowed seven earned runs in 8 2/3 innings despite starting the season with three scoreless innings Friday.

Manager David Bell knows making quick adjustments and adapting faster than normal will be important this season, but he said it’s also important to show confidence in struggling players.

“This is a tough game,” Bell said Sunday. “We need those guys. We believe in our bullpen. We do have confidence in them. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Lineup news: Aristides Aquino, who was promoted to the Reds on Saturday, struck out in his first at-bat Sunday and was in the lineup in left field for the first time Monday.

Christian Colon and Kyle Farmer also earned their first starts. Aquino, Colon and Farmer batted sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Family update: Catcher Tucker Barnhart, who was placed on the paternity list Saturday, announced the birth of a baby boy Sunday. Benson Jude Barnhart weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 21 inches. He was born at 8:14 pm on Saturday.

“Mommy and Benny are perfectly healthy!!!” Barnhart wrote on Twitter. “I’m so proud of you Sierra!!! I love you more than ever! This little guy and his brother complete us!!”

Benson is the second child for the Barnharts. Tatum Barnhart, a son, was born in 2017.