The Cleveland Indians will travel south to invade the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park. The Reds will continue their Ohio Cup series with the start of a two-game set. Cincinnati was swept by the Indians in Cleveland and will try to get things going at home.
The Reds ended an atrocious road trip, posting a 1-4 mark against the Phillies and Indians. The battle in Cleveland was a nightmare. The Reds pitching staff was knocked around for 28 runs. The Redlegs’ offense could muster only seven runs.
When the second half of the series gets underway, the Indians will have right-hander Mike Clevinger on the mound. It’ll be Clevinger’s first time toeing the rubber in the majors. He will replace Cody Anderson in the rotation when he’s officially added to the roster. He collected a 5-0 record and 3.03 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Columbus. He’s pumped and ready to go, per the MLB website.
“I’m still kind of grasping at the words for it,” Clevinger explained. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’m just riding on cloud nine.”
The Indians’ right-hander led their Minor League pitchers with 145 strikeouts. He was promoted to Triple A during the postseason last year. In that span, he also ran up a streak of 15.1 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts.
The Reds will counter with Brandon Finnegan. He has an ERA of 4.40 and a record of 1-2 in eight starts for the Reds. He’s accumulated 32 strikeouts and 23 walks over the span. The walks are hindering his chances to go deeper into games. Four of his eight starts were top quality. But the Reds weren’t able to always capitalize on the efforts.
In his most recent start, Finnegan gave up three runs on four hits to Philadelphia. The game was an eventual loss for the Reds. After the loss, as covered by CBS Sports, he was upbeat about the performance.
“I’ve been throwing the ball great. Obviously today I didn’t throw the ball too well. There’s going to be walks. That’s baseball. You can’t control that. I’m just worried about going up there and getting outs.”
Reds third-base coach Jim Riggleman wasn’t overly concerned. But he understands that the walk ratio isn’t helping the left-hander.
“He knows he can’t walk five in four innings and have success.”
If the Reds hope to get things turned around, they’ll have to get the pitching staff fixed. The latest fiasco was Tuesday night’s game against the Tribe. Alfredo Simon gave up ten runs in back-to-back innings. Simon worked five innings, but the damage had been done.
Reds manager Bryan Price summed up the situation.
“We’re just in a bad cycle of short starts and an overtaxed bullpen.”
Simon was brought back to give a sense of veteran leadership to the staff. So far, his numbers aren’t lending support to the $2 million salary the Reds are shelling out.
While it’s true the bullpen is having a hard time, the Reds starting pitchers have not been truly spectacular. The rotation has been plagued by injuries and has yielded only 199.1 innings. That’s a National League low point. The starter’s innings aren’t that much more than the bullpen. Relievers have put in 141.2 frames of work. Reds relievers lead the league in ERA, walks, WHIP, and home runs.
“Unfortunately, it’s a lot of short starts,” Price said. “I’m throwing [Steve] Delabar every other day, an inning-plus. [Blake] Wood goes four out of five, or [JC] Ramirez. [Tony] Cingrani, if he’s not in, he’s up. It’s too much. It’s too much. It’s too much for a bullpen.”
The Reds will need more quality starts to right the ship. Offensively, Cincinnati will have to produce to support the pitching. Part two of the Ohio Cup will bring some answers.
[Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images]