Robert Stephenson was called upon again. The Reds’ young pitcher was able to live up to his billing on Tuesday night. After filling in for Alfredo Simon, the talented right-hander was able to push the Reds past the Colorado Rockies. With his second house call, Stephenson helped the Redlegs move back to the.500 mark. The 4-3 victory sets up an afternoon rubber game at Great American Ballpark.
Simon was scratched from the lineup after experiencing some soreness in his arm. That pain turned out to be a bout of biceps tendinitis, according to ESPN. The Reds are surviving on a depleted starting rotation that has done an admirable job. He was signed to help the Reds bolster their pitching corps until the wounded warriors could return. Instead of telling trainers, Simon let the problem linger.
“He’s had it dating back to his first start against Pittsburgh,” Manager Bryan Price revealed. “He didn’t let us know. A lot of pitchers do that. No one at this point feels like it’s going to require the disabled list.”
That’s when the call went in for Stephenson. The Reds’ top pick in the June, 2011, amateur draft made his major league debut and beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the third game of the season. After that successful outing, he was sent back to Louisville. Relief pitcher Jumbo Diaz was optioned to Louisville to open a spot.
After pitching another gem for the Reds, Price isn’t making any promises about Stephenson’s status. At this point, it’s evident he won’t be staying in Cincinnati.
“He would pitch again if Simon wasn’t able to go, but at this point in time, he’s had two major-league starts. They’ve been good. I still think he has some things he can improve upon. He’ll return to Triple-A, unless we have an injury and work on the areas he needs to focus on.”
Stephenson was scheduled to start for Louisville on Tuesday, but after the sudden scratch of Simon he got the call.
On short notice, the Reds’ top prospect was able to baffle the Rockies. The Reds gave him a 4-1 lead, in a wild second inning. Cincinnati scored the runs on five hits, five stolen bases, and a hit batter. Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa was chased from the game, after two innings of work. Per Fox Sports, the Reds hadn’t stolen that many bases in an inning since the 1920s.
“I lost my concentration,” De La Rosa said. “I wasn’t paying attention to the runners. I have to do a better job than that.”
Stephenson gave the Reds the deep start they were hoping for. The right-hander was able to retire the Rockies on 12 pitches, in the first inning. In the top of the second, he ran into trouble and received a short talk from Reds’ pitching coach Mark Riggins. The youngster settled down and regained his poise.
“It eased the nerves a little bit knowing that I’ve been here before and I belong here,” said Stephenson, who lasted five innings against the Phillies. “Just had a lot more confidence.”
Price was overjoyed to give the Reds’ bullpen some rest. He praised Stephenson for the seven innings of work. Other than the early trouble, he gave up only three hits and struck out seven.
“He was terrific. He’s our first seven innings pitched. He made the pitches he needed to make, he controlled the running game, and he fielded his position. He did the things you have to do to stay here. He did a good job of not making too much of the situation.”
The Reds’ skipper was pleased with the performance, but Stephenson will still be the on-call specialist. If his services are always the same, Reds fans will willingly accept the cost.
[Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images]