It looks like the answers to the Reds’ starting pitching was going to be discovered by attrition. Injuries to Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan complicated the matter. News in camp Tuesday had the same effect, as another candidate will be sidelined at least a few days.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say it’d be nice to have a starting rotation in tact of guys we anticipated being there,” Bryan Price said. “But we’ve been in this position before. We’ll deal with it and hit the ground running with what we have. What we do have is good though. I like the young guys we have in the rotation.”
• Tyler Mahle was closer to winning a coveted starting job in the rotation, when he took the mound against the San Diego Padres in a 3-3 10-inning tie.
News that Michael Lorenzen would be out of action several days with a grade one strain to his arm hadn’t stopped echoing around training camp when he threw his first pitch against the Padres. Mahle has in all probability earned the job outright, anyway.
The rookie pitched five scoreless innings of two-hit baseball in his last time out. Coming into the start against San Diego, Mahle has appeared in five games prior to the Padres, pitching 14.2 innings. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks, in those games.
Mahle had a rough first inning. He walked Manuel Margot on a close 3-2 pitch. He appeared to pick off Margot but was called for a balk. It ignited a two-run inning.
“He just missed a borderline 3-2 pitch, then hit a batter with a 1-2 slider,” Bryan Price said. “He got better with his fastball command. He was missing with the slider in the first inning off the corner. He was bringing it back over the plate. He got better with it and that was great. You’ve got to be pushed a little bit and he responded with four beautiful innings.”
It wasn’t so much the results but the progress Mahle made with his changeup and slider, two pitches the Reds’ asked him to improve.
Mahle pitched four scoreless innings after the first. He allowed one hit over the last four frames. He struck out six.
• The bench is another area of the team that Reds’ leadership would like to improve. Cliff Pennington, who is a viable option at shortstop, is one of the multi-positional players that are competing for jobs as spare parts.
Brandon Dixon, Alex Blandino, Rosell Herrera and Phil Gosselin are the others. Ben Revere and Phillip Ervin remain as possible fifth outfielders. Sebastian Elizalde makes a case as a good left-handed bat off the bench. All have played good defense and all but Pennington and Revere have found their hitting stroke.
“What really speaks better compared to where we’ve been in the past, is we’re having some real challenges to find our best bench,” Price said. “There are some really good players here. All of them can help us. That’s going to mean that we should feel comfortable with the bench during the regular season and feel like we have some depth at Triple A.”
Gosselin is an intriguing choice.
The 29-year old played in 256 big league games with Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Texas. He is a .270 career hitter and .306 this spring. He has 132 pinch-hit appearances with a .244 batting average and one home run. Gosselin has played all four infield positions, mostly second base, left field and right field.