CINCINNATI — For those hoping to see Brandon Finnegan on the mound as a starter for the Cincinnati Reds, hold on to those hopes.
There was a chance he would be called up from Louisville to make Wednesday’s start because it is his turn, but the Cincinnati Reds have decided to go a different way.
Instead they are bringing back Keyvius Sampson on three days of rest because he pitched only three innings in his previous start.
AFTER A COUPLE OF eye-popping start when he was called up, the 24-year-old Sampson has fallen upon tough times in his last few starts.
“He is getting acclimated to the big leagues and we are trying to find where he is best situated,” said manager Bryan Price. “We have a real need for starting pitching here and we’ll be bringing up some of the guys who were in the rotation in Louisville tomorrow.
“Keyvius has the stuff to start, but he just needs to harness his command like he did his first couple of times out because that works as a starter,” said Price.
SPEAKING OF TOUGH time, the Kansas City Royals must wonder if the Reds sent them the real Johnny Cueto or they were sent an impostor wearing
Cueto is 0-and-4 over his last four starts and has pitched only 20 innings and given up 37 hits and 20 runs, a 9.45 earned run average.
“Yeah, it is surprising to me,” said Price. “He isn’t a guy who gives up a bevy of hits and runs. Any pitcher can go through that and they do. We just haven’t seen that in some time with Johnny, even when he was having all those health issues in 2013.
“When he was pitching with modest stuff in comparison to what he normally has, he almost always gave us a good start,” Price added. “It might be as simple as getting on the same page with the catcher in utilizing his mix of pitches the way he typically does.
“He is too good for this to last. He is so good,” said Price. “He is going to be the guy they want him to be in the postseason and I feel very confident of that.”
AND SPEAKING OF tough times closer to home, relief pitcher J.J. Hoover suddenly is back in last season’s mode when the home run ball bit him time and time again. He has given up home runs in his last three appearances after pitching phenomenally well from May through August, constructing a 7-and-0 record with a 1.74 earned run average.
Through August he had made 57 appearances over 59 innings and given up only 33 hits and 11 earned runs while accumulating 15 holds.
So what is happening in September?
“We wish we had had stretches from our bullpen like J.J. hss had this year,” said Price. “If we had had everyone in our buillpen pitch with the consistency J.J. has we’d be in a little bit better place than are right now.
“It is simply a stretch, a little bit of a period like hitters sometime have,” he added. “He is missing some locations and hitters are seeing the ball a little earlier during his delivery. He is opening a bit early so his release point is where you can see the ball just a split-second earlier so they have more time to make a decision on whether it is a good pitch to hit or not.”
AS THE INNINGS mount, time and innings are running out on some of the young pitchers in the rotation. What is the grand plan — a six-man rotation or tandem starts (two starters, one following the other in the same game)?
“We’d talked about a six-man rotation, but the challenge for that is we are going to lose a couple of starters in September due to their innings constraints (Raisel iglesias, Michael Lorenaen, Sampson and John Lamb are possibilities for shutdowns),” said Price.
“To be able to keep a six-man rotation in September is unrealistic,” he added. “To me, it is that we will see relief pitchers in games a lot earlier. After more call-ups we’ll have a surplus of relief pitchers, some guys who can throw multiple innings.”
Price said the team might go as far as having a starter, but also announcing that theree will be a first-man-in relief pitcher scheduled to follow the starter after a few innings.
“We always have an understanding of who the first pitcher will be out of the bullpen in a game if we have a short start,” he said. “We will have to have a length-guy in our back pocket for most of our remaining starts.”
THE PENSACOL BLUE WAHOOS did something no other Reds Class AA team has done for a decade — they clinched a spot in the Southern League playoffs Sunday, one day before the end of the regular season, with a 15-2 win over Mobile. The Reds affiliate in the Southern League had the longest stretch of not making the playoffs of any organization in the majors. They hadn’t qualified for the playoffs since the Chattanooga Lookouts made it in 2006.