CINCINNATI -- Even before his warmup that preceded his Wednesday start vs. the Royals at Great American Ball Park, things felt a little off to pitcher Cody Reed. Pitching coach Danny Darwin seemed to take note as well."I got up on the mound to warm up in the bullpen and
CINCINNATI -- Even before his warmup that preceded his Wednesday start vs. the Royals at Great American Ball Park, things felt a little off to pitcher Cody Reed. Pitching coach Danny Darwin seemed to take note as well.
"I got up on the mound to warm up in the bullpen and [Darwin] said, 'Did you get a little late start?'" Reed said after the Reds' 6-1 loss. "I looked at the clock and I was like five minutes [late] to what I normally am, and I was like, 'I guess I did,' trying to get everything going. I felt fine. Just stuff definitely wasn't there."
Reed has had a nice September audition for the 2019 Reds rotation, but he didn't end on a high note. The left-hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs, six hits and two walks while striking out two.
"I was going strike, ball, strike, ball," Reed said. "Really wasn't being consistent in the zone, which I have been since I got called back up,"
In his 17 big league games (seven starts) this season, Reed was 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA. Given five starts this month to earn consideration for next season, he had a 4.56 ERA and allowed 27 hits and eight walks with 25 strikeouts over 23 2/3 innings.
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Reed's two previous starts stood out the most this month -- six scoreless innings vs. the Marlins last Thursday and five scoreless innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts against the Cubs on Sept. 15.
"It's a tough one to end on if this is it," Reed said. "I definitely feel like I [left a good impression]. I'm going to come into spring fighting, just like I would if I hadn't pitched here all season. I'm just going to take the same mindset as a starter. If my call is in the bullpen, then so be it. I'll be in the big leagues and helping the team as a reliever."
Reed's streak of 11 scoreless innings over his previous two starts came to a quick end in the first inning. Raul Mondesi hit a one-out single and helped manufacture a run by stealing second base with one out and taking third with two outs. Mondesi scored on Salvador Perez's RBI double to center field.
It was a similar situation in the third inning, when Whit Merrifield hit a leadoff single and stole two bases before he scored on Alex Gordon's RBI single for a 2-1 Royals lead.
"Once the baserunners got on there today, he wasn't able to slow them down," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "They stole four bases in two innings. That creates no force outs at second and easy scoring opportunities. It's a part of Cody's game that he's going to have to tighten up."
Of the 68 pitches Reed threw, he stuck to his script on leaning on his slider, with 27. But unlike in past starts, it wasn't there for him. According to Statcast™, the slider only garnered three swings and misses.
"I couldn't get it back-foot to righties. I kind of left it over the plate," Reed said. "Balls that probably should've been smoked, they got foul balls or swing throughs even when they weren't very good pitches.
"Just trying to be too fine, which is the opposite of what I've been doing. I've been trying to stay in the zone and just be competitive in the zone. … Just an off day, stuff like that happens."
Cincinnati's lineup could not muster much against Royals starter Heath Fillmyer, who struck out a career-high nine over his 7 1/3 innings while giving up one earned run and four hits. Jose Peraza hit a one-out solo home run to left field in the first inning before Fillmyer retired 14 of the next 15 batters -- including 11 in a row in one stretch.
Although Reed was on the Opening Day roster, he spent the bulk of this season at Triple-A Louisville and returned to the Major Leagues in August to work from the bullpen. He finally got his first win in a big league start at Miami after struggling over parts of the past two seasons. But he's demonstrated renewed confidence throughout 2018.
"[It's] knowing that I belong in the Major Leagues," Reed said. "I think my stuff plays in the Major Leagues."
The slumping Reds dropped their fifth consecutive game, and sixth of their last seven. They have a 66-93 record and must win their final three games to avoid the 94-loss mark the club has hit the previous two seasons.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Peraza nearing Larkin mark: Peraza's home run -- on a 3-2 pitch from Fillmyer-- landed in the left-field seats and extended his career-high total to 14 this season. He has five homers this month and is responsible for four of the club's last 10. After going 2-for-4, Peraza now has 181 hits -- four shy of Barry Larkin's 1990 club record for hits in a season by a player whose primary position is shortstop.
"He is finishing up strong," Riggleman said. "Just a great example of what you do. You take care of yourself and go out there and play hard from Day 1, until the end of the season."
Don't blink: In the fifth inning against reliever Sal Romano, Mondesi hit a leadoff drive to left field that was misplayed by Dilson Herrera and went for a triple off the wall. Mondesi scored on a Gordon check-swing chopper back to the mound. Romano briefly looked the runner back to third base before throwing to first when Mondesi broke for home and scored with a headfirst slide in a play at the plate.
HE SAID IT
"When you don't get hits, that's called being flat, I guess, because you don't have baserunners out there. You don't have activity out there and it has that look. But they're working hard before the games and they're playing it out to the 162-game schedule, and we're just getting bad results. I don't have much of an explanation for it." -- Riggleman on the Reds' offense, which has been held to one or fewer runs five times during the last seven games
Following an off-day on Thursday, the final series of the season begins at 6:40 p.m. ET Friday vs. the Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Anthony DeSclafani will make the start against Pittsburgh's Nick Kingham. DeSclafani has struggled all month with a 7.04 ERA in his last five starts and will try to end the season on a positive note.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.