CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been taking their rotation assignments one series at time lately, and they didn’t name their starting pitchers until late Friday afternoon. Tyler Mahle started the series opener vs. the White Sox, striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings in Cincinnati's 7-1 win. Manager David Bell has Trevor Bauer starting Saturday and usual reliever Michael Lorenzen making his second start of the season on Sunday.
Bell is considering a four-man rotation for the final week. That gives Bauer the chance at two more starts after Saturday, and Luis Castillo could also get two more.
“It is on the table,” Bell said.
“It’s certainly something I’m open to,” Bauer said. “I think we need to get through this weekend series, obviously, and see what this landscape looks like and make a decision from there. I’m sure it’ll be a talking point after my next start and see what the team needs. Mainly, at this point of the year, it’s whatever I can do to help the team win and get in is where my head’s at.”
Getting an extra start could be a boost for Bauer’s chances of winning the National League Cy Young Award. The right-hander, who is 4-3 with a 1.71 ERA in nine starts this season, is aware that no Cincinnati pitcher has earned the honor.
“[Johnny] Cueto finished second in 2014,” said Bauer, who leads the NL in ERA, adjusted ERA (283) and WHIP (0.81). “Yeah, I keep pretty close track of that. It’s something that really drives me. There are two things that I really, really want in my baseball career. I want to win a World Series and I want to win Cy Youngs. That’s something that I keep track of, and it kind of motivates me in a lot of ways. I think I’m in a pretty good position right now.”
There are other rotation possibilities ahead. Sonny Gray is eligible to be activated from the 10-day injured list on Monday after being out with a right mid-back strain. Wade Miley, who has been on the IL with a left shoulder strain since Aug. 28, could also be ready soon and Bell will have to figure out how he fits in.
“Sonny is doing much better. He’s getting close,” Bell said. “There is a lot of optimism he can make a start next week, even in the next series.”
Anthony DeSclafani was not given a starting assignment this weekend, as it went to Lorenzen. On Tuesday in his first start since 2018, Lorenzen pitched five strong innings with one run allowed during a 4-1 win over the Pirates.
“I think he showed that he handled the role in his last outing really well,” Bell said. “It comes back to Michael has great stuff. It’s a good offense we’re going up against. Even though we couldn’t go wrong with the decision we made, because of that, it was a tough one. For Sunday, we feel Michael gives us our best chance in every inning of that game.”
It appears possible that DeSclafani could work out of the bullpen the final week, and potentially, in the postseason.
“There’s no question he’s going to factor in,” Bell said. “A lot of it depends on Sonny. I think no matter what, at this point of the season and the rest of the way, some of our starters that have typically been starters will need to transition to pitch really meaningful innings out of the bullpen. You don’t need as many starters. Going into the potential postseason, there wouldn’t be a need for a five-man rotation.”
The Reds activated third baseman Eugenio Suárez from the three-day paternity list on Friday. To make room on the roster, reliever R.J. Alaniz was optioned to the alternate training site. Suárez went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in Cincinnati's win.
Also, outfielder Nick Williams cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment at the alternate training site. Williams was designated for assignment last week.
More work for Senzel
Bell planned to have a slow rollout for center fielder Nick Senzel after he was activated from the IL following a 27-game absence. Senzel was 0-for-6 in his first two starts during the previous four-game series vs. Pittsburgh and was expected to be in the lineup regularly beginning on Friday. Instead, Brian Goodwin started in center field.
“He’s fine. We talked about the challenges of getting him acclimated and back into game action without the amount of at-bats he would typically have,” Bell said. “We’re going to have a work day today. I would expect he would be back in the lineup tomorrow. We’ll just make the most of today. Even though it’s important for him to play and get back into it, I’m just trying to make the best decision for him and the team.”