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Master craftsman: Arroyo wins 2nd straight

Following first victory since 2014, Reds veteran continues comeback with efficiency vs. Cubs
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds veteran Bronson Arroyo has built a reputation for being a smart pitcher, a good clubhouse guy and the type of person who earns a comeback opportunity at 40 years old that others perhaps wouldn't get after 2 1/2 years out of the game with arm injuries.

But Arroyo doesn't want to trade on his reputation. He wants results. And there was no arguing with his performance in Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs. Over six innings and only 66 pitches, Arroyo gave up two earned runs with three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds veteran Bronson Arroyo has built a reputation for being a smart pitcher, a good clubhouse guy and the type of person who earns a comeback opportunity at 40 years old that others perhaps wouldn't get after 2 1/2 years out of the game with arm injuries.

But Arroyo doesn't want to trade on his reputation. He wants results. And there was no arguing with his performance in Sunday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs. Over six innings and only 66 pitches, Arroyo gave up two earned runs with three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.

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"You don't want anything given to you in this game," said Arroyo following his second straight victory, which came on the heels of his first win since June 2014. "Nobody wants to be there and they're handing you a job because you're a good guy. At the end of the day, you've got to contribute and feel like you're pulling your weight on the ballclub."

Video: CHC@CIN: Arroyo on solid performance, win over Cubs

Arroyo retired his first 10 batters in a row and had thrown only three called balls in his first 24 pitches. A Kris Bryant single in the fourth inning followed by Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer to right field was the only real damage.

In the first four innings, Arroyo's pitches garnered one swing-and-miss. He recorded nine swinging strikes over his final two innings, which included striking out the side in the fifth.

Video: CHC@CIN: Arroyo fans Lackey to strike out the side

"He's going to challenge you, we know that," Rizzo said. "He picks around the zone. You have to take it like every other at-bat and let him hang one. Fortunately for me, he did. Everything else, he was splitting the plate."

Arroyo's velocity is picking up as he averaged 85 mph with his fastball and topped out at 87 mph, according to Statcast™. He threw 11 fastballs and led mostly with 18 curveballs that averaged 73 mph.

Staying true to his own style of pitching is why Arroyo feels he can be successful during this comeback, having undergone Tommy John surgery on his elbow and a shoulder procedure in 2014.

"I've got a very unique set of skills, which isn't necessarily what everyone else has," he said. "That's the ability to throw some really awkward, kind of strange-shaped pitches in any given count. It gives me an opportunity to just make guys feel uncomfortable at the plate and never be able to settle in. That's the way that I've performed my whole career, basically."

Arroyo still isn't firing on all cylinders, which played into manager Bryan Price's decision to bring in reliever Blake Wood, despite the low pitch count.

"It's more building up some sort of resiliency in his arm that he hasn't had the chance to do in the last two and a half years," Price said. "Stamina resiliency is something that's probably going to be the final touch to his total comeback. I think he feels strong enough to take on more of a workload, but he's also very honest about how he's feeling."

Video: CHC@CIN: Price on Arroyo's win over the Cubs

Arroyo feels normal at the start of the games, but noted there is still what he called "irregularities," and his arm does experience some swelling as his outings continue.

"I'm still dealing with the fact that my elbow just really doesn't want to take the pounding for 100 pitches right now," Arroyo said. "It's not the same arm in the first inning as it is in the sixth and seventh, or at least after we get past 80-85 pitches. That's why I've been cut short a few times now, even though it looks like there's an opportunity to get back out there.

"I'm hoping it gets a little bit better here in the next couple weeks, and we can start getting deeper in some ballgames."

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Bronson Arroyo