The Zach Duke Era is over, as short and as not-so-sweet as it was. The Cincinnati Reds designated for assignment the left-handed bullpen specialist.
To take his place, the Reds recalled right-handed relief pitcher Jimmy Herget from Class AAA Louisville. The 25-year-old from Tampa, Fla., was the team’s sixth-round draft pick in 2015.
Duke punched his ticket out of town with an awful appearance Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had two on and one out in a 1-0 game in the eighth inning. The batter was left-hander Anthony Rizzo.
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As a left-handed specialist, Duke’s job is to come in and get that left-hander out. He walked Rizzo on four pitches, loading the bases. Duke was replaced by Jared Hughes and Javier Baez hit a grand slam as the Cubs won 6-0.
When the season began, the Reds had three left-handers in the bullpen. Now, with Duke gone and Wandy Peraltz on the injured list, the Reds are down to one, Amir Garrett.
That doesn’t concern manager David Bell on a couple of levels.
“Herget has had success against right-handed hitters,” said Bell. “We’ll find a way to ease him in, but he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t deserve it or earn the opportunity. He’ll be one of our relievers and be looked upon to help us win games.”
Herget, a University of South Florida product, was 1-4 at Louisville with a 3.58 ERA. He made 38 appearances and pitched 37.1 innings, giving up 30 hits and 24 walks while striking out 44.
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Herget arrived at Great American Ball Park about two hours before Monday’s game after a driving from Columbus, where the Bats were playing the Clippers.
“It’s a lifetime goal, ever since I started playing the game when I was 4-years-old,” he said. “This is the goal, to get here. It seems as if it has been a long time. But it is all worth if now for sure.”
Herget said he arrived at the Huntington Park clubhouse Monday afternoon and manager Jody Davis pulled him aside.
“He told me some story about how people are upset with me and this and that, put me on edge,” said Herget. “Then he told me I’d been traded. Then he said, ‘Actually, they are playing in Cincinnati tonight, so maybe you better hustle up there.’ ”
Herget said things have become positive for him in recent times, “Because the first month was a little tough. I had a couple of bad ones, walking too many guys. I had a meeting with (pitching coach) Jeff (Fassero) and he said, ‘Bear down, you gotta pitch.’ Over the last month-and-a-half I did what I had to do and the results have shown. I just attacked more, attacked every hitter.”
One of the reasons Herget is successful against right-handers is because his delivery is a dip-down, semi-submarine style.
“His style does add a different look,” Bell said. “Typically, from what I saw in spring training, there is a little deception in Herget’s delivery because it is unique and a little different from other guys. The report I got from Triple-A is that the deception has shown up. That’s been a big part of his success.
“It gives him a different look and a lot of times guys like him can be tougher on right-handers,” said Bell. “And that has shown. We have the best bullpen that we can have right now. It was a bit of a luxury when we had three left-handers. But there are some teams that don’t have any, and some teams have two, three and four. This is what we’re comfortable with right now. They have the best arms we can put out there right now.”
• Pitcher Alex Wood played catch on the sidelines Sunday and played catch again before Monday’s game, once again testing his problem-plagued back.
“We hope that progresses fast back to a date for a bullpen session,” said Bell. “We don’t have a date for another bullpen yet.”
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• Wandy Peralta, out with an injured hip flexor, is fast-approaching a bullpen session of his own. “Wandy is good and we’re hoping he throws a bullpen (Tuesday),” said Bell. “There was a chance he would do it Monday, but we pushed it back a day and hope he can do it (Tuesday).”
• Pitcher Sal Romano, 2-7 with a 5.95 ERA at Class AAA Louisville, comes out of the bullpen to make his first start of the season for the Bats on Monday night. The 25-year-old right-hander is 13-19 over 55 major league appearances with the Reds in 2017-18, 41 of them starts, with a 4.99 ERA.
He has made 31 appearances for the Bats this year, all out of the bullpen.
• Speaking of Louisville, exiled outfielder Scott Schebler is doing nothing to earn his way back to Cincinnati. In 30 games with the Bats, he is hitting .241 with three home runs and 10 RBIs for his 137 at-bats. He has 36 strikeouts and 11 walks.
• Yasiel Puig was not in Monday’s lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers, a day off to permit some bumps, scrapes and bruises to heal.
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“It was tough taking him out of the lineup because he has been swinging the bat so well and playing a great right field,” said Bell. “He won’t admit this, but he is a little banged up. The other day when he ran into the wall I was shocked when he got up so quick.”
Since June 4, Puig has been potent — .316 with five doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 13 RBIs, four stolen bases and a couple of temper tantrums.
“We’re just trying to be smart and get him through the All-Star break,” Bell said. “After Monday, I would anticipate he will play the rest of the way (five games to the All-Star break).”
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