CINCINNATI — A familiar theme is materializing as far as the Cincinnati Reds bullpen is concerned — ‘The Next Man Up.’
For the last few years, it has been a case of the Reds wearing out a path between Louisville and Cincinnati to keep the bullpen plenished with fresh arms.
The Reds have played only 12 games but already have made four bullpen call-ups from the minors for the bullpen.
‘The Next Man Up’ is 27-year-old right handser Dylan Floro, a minor league non-roster signee last winter.
He follows Cody Reed, Ty Rainey and Zack Weiss as quick call-up, although Rainey was sent back when Floro was called up.
“Dylan is a kid with some big league time and came to us as a minor league free agent and had a nice spring training camp,” said manager Bryan Price. “We really like that he is a ground ball pitcher with a sinking fastball. That helps in our ball park and in this division.”
The big league experience Price talked about consists of 12 appearances in the 2016 Tampa Bay bullpen and three appearances in the Chicago Cubs bullpen.
“He has thrown the ball well in his three appearances for Louisville so far,” Price added. “After Wednesday’s 12-inning game in Philadelphia and yesterday’s game (a 13-4 loss) we needed help. Dylan is the right guy, throwing best out of that bullpen. I think he can come in and help us.”
Rainey made his major league debut in Philadelphia and gave up a grand slam home run. Weiss made his major league debut Friday against up home runs to the first two batters he faced, both on 2-and-0 pitches.
Floro was in Lehigh Valley, Pa, with Louisville when he got the call Thursday night.
“I was in the hotel lobby without my cell phone,” he said. “I got back to the room when it was ringing, thank goodness.”
After a one-hour delay at the Philadelphia airport, Floro made it to Great American Ball Park this afternoon.
“I just got here a couple of hours ago,” he said just a couple of hours before game time. “I had a delayed flight to start it off, but here I am and I’m ready to go.
“The game plan is for me to come in for whatever opportunity I get, try to take advantage of them and try to help his ballclub get back to winning some games,” he added.
“I had some good outings in Louisville and I’ll try to bring it up here.”
Even Price said Floro pitched well enough during spring training to make the team, but there was only so much room and keeping Floro would have necessitated taking somebody off the 40-man roster. In fact, to make room for Floro pitcher Ariel Hernandez was taken off the 40-man.
“It wasn’t disappointing,” he said “When you come into spring you try to make the ballclub, but if you don’t you can’t think it is a negative. I went to Louisville, took advantage of a couple outings and gave myself a chance to get back up here.”
WITH A 2-and-10 start, the worst for a Reds team since 1955, morale and low self-esteem can dangerously infect a team, especially one that has given up 13 or more runs in a game. No other major league team has given up more than 13 more than once.
Price attacked the question of low morale and defeatism with a strong, steady answer.
“We have the right group of guys here, especially with Joey Votto and the energy he brings every day, and with Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Banhart and Devin Mesoraco. They keep a real good tenor in our clubhouse.
“We have been through some very challenging and difficult times, as far as winning games the last few years,” he added. “It is nothing you get comfortable with or accept ore tolerate and say, ‘This is OK.’ But we can make it much worse if he lose sight of what we’re trying to do — improve and get better.
“We have to get over this hurdle and the morale has been terrific,” he said. “It is hard to be where we are without thinking that guys are going to get down, disappointed and lethargic. Tney are not doing that and we won’t allow that to happen. We will maintain our optimism and work hard to get better.”
Price said one thing he won’t do is try to do things his players are not capable of doing, won’t put anybody into a panic mode.
“I don’t want to try to force things to happen,” he said. “We won’t do things that are away from the strengths of the players. You can hit-and-run and straight steal with guys who aren’t base-stealers. If you try to force things, that’s just not a good idea. I can only put players out there to their strengths, where and when they can perform best And they have to perform.”
AS EXPECTED, Brandon Finnegan will come off the disabled list and start Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals and scheduled starter Cody Reed goes to the bullpen.
“He threw 98 pitches in his rehab start and he has recovered the right way,” said Price. “Then he threw a good bullpen. Everybody signed off on the fact the kid is ready. He has done everything we asked him to do. Now we have to get him into a big league ballgame and see where he is.”