CINCINNATI — The sample size is minuscule, like one of those pieces in Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, but Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price is ecstatic over the early results of his starting pitchers.
While the Reds started 1-and-3, they received quality starts from three of the four starters — Homer Bailey, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle. Only Luis Castillo stumbled in his 2018 debut.
And of particular awesomeness was the efforts by two of the young prospects, Romano and Mahle.
“I was very much impressed with those two, especially the way they competed in the strike zone,” said Price. “In Sal’s case, he really didn’t have his breaking ball or change-up. He had to make the bulk of his pitches with his fastball against a team that had scored 13 the day before.”
That was against the Washington Nationals. After giving up two hits, including a two-run homer to the first two hitters, Romano ended up pitched six innings and giving up three runs and only four hits. The Reds lost, 6-5.
Mahle, facing the Chicago Cubs, gave up no runs and one hit over six innings in a veteran-like knockout start for a 23-year-old rookie.
“His first inning he was just off the plate a bit (a walk and a hit batsman), but he made adjustments and attacked the zone. His approach was outstanding,” said Price.
“I’ve been saying it, I’m really impressed with the group of young starters we have here. The one thing that connects the whole group is that they are willing to compete in the strike zone. That’s makes a big difference for our defense and our optimism in their ability to become key cogs in our rotation.”
Of the quality starts (at least six innings and three runs or less), Price said, “It is excellent. With days off, we originally planned to start with a four-man rotation and an eight-man bullpen. But with the rain-out (Opening Day) the pitching plans completely reshaped itself to a five-man rotation and a seven-man bullpen.
“Because of that we had to rely on our starters to eat up some innings or we’d already be talking about a very tired bullpen and we’re not.
“This should be a good sign of things to come,” he added. “We’re not prescribing to the two times through the order for our starters. As long as I’m here we won’t be subscribing to two times through the order, I can tell you that.”
THE REDS STARTED the season with six pitchers on the disabled list, which isn’t fake news, but certainly isn’t big news because it seems to happen every spring.
The lists consists of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, David Hernndez, Michael Lorenzen, Kevin Shackleford and Rookie Davis.
Price offered some updates on the progress of some of the walking wounded.
FINNEGAN (left biceps): “He is going to throw a simulated game tomorrow in Louisville, trying to get him stretched out to 80 to 85 pitches. We will evaluate that performance to make sure that he is feeling good and that his stuff is regular season ready. The caveat is if he will be ready to re-join us on April 9 or will he need one start in our minor league system.”
DeSCLAFANI (left oblique): He has initiated a throwing program and he is on Day Three of that protocol. He has been playing catch, but I don’t know how far away he is from getting on the mound.”
HERNANDEZ (right shoulder): “He played catch Monday and will throwing again today (Tuesday). He had no pain and no issues yesterday throwingr from 75 feet.
LORENZEN (right shoulder): “He will be checked out tomorrow (Wednesday) to see how far along he is on the recovery of the injury. We will be point-specific on making sure the injury is completely recovered before he initiates a throwing program.
“We’ve been down this road so much in the past with Johnny Cueto and Brandon Finnegan, so we want to make sure the injury is, in fact, healed. Everyone is optimistic that Lorenzen has healed at a faster pace than we originally thought.”
THE REDS HEAD FOR the road Thursday, opening a four-game series at PNC Park against the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates.
Many believe the Reds might finish above the Pirates in the National League Central standings after they lost star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and star pitcher Gerrit Cole. Again, a tiny sampling, but the Pirates are off to a 4-and-0 start.
“This will be good and Pittsburgh is off to a good start,” said Price. “They moved a couple of marquee players, but they’ve hit the ground running, played really good baseball.
“They have a similar young look to their rotation that they are trying to break in to get comfortable at this level,” Price added. “There are very similar parts to each of our clubs.”