CINCINNATI -- Even if they were using a six-man rotation on a temporary basis, the key to its success is to provide deep starts so as not to tax a shorthanded bullpen.In a 9-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night at Great American Ball Park, Reds rookie Tyler Mahle
CINCINNATI -- Even if they were using a six-man rotation on a temporary basis, the key to its success is to provide deep starts so as not to tax a shorthanded bullpen.
In a 9-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night at Great American Ball Park, Reds rookie Tyler Mahle didn't get anywhere near the deep part of the game. In his third consecutive poor outing, Mahle provided the shortest start of his young career with one-plus innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits, with one walk and three strikeouts.
"I'm missing spots, and the ones over the plate they're hitting," said Mahle, who has a 14.00 ERA in his last three starts, with 14 earned runs over nine innings.
Mahle faced nine batters in the first inning while throwing 45 pitches. Rhys Hoskins made it a 1-0 game with the first of his two homers on the night and two batters later, Carlos Santana slugged a two-run homer. Mahle, who now leads the National League with 21 homers allowed, loaded the bases with two outs before getting out of the jam by striking out pitcher Ranger Suarez.
When the second inning began with a Cesar Hernandez single, interim manager Jim Riggleman brought the hook for Mahle and summoned Michael Lorenzen.
"I had to get Mahle out of there," Riggleman said. "So the only decision was should I send Mahle out there for the second? I did, and as soon as a guy got on, we had Lorenzen ready."
Of the 53 pitches Mahle threw, 38 were four-seam fastballs, according to Statcast™.
"I think tonight it all happened so fast," Mahle said. "I didn't go to my breaking ball soon enough. Once I did go to it, I thought it was pretty good. I didn't get hurt on it. I got some swings and misses. But I think tonight, the problem was not only was I not locating, I didn't go to my offspeed quick enough, so they were sitting on fastballs."
From June 1-July 6, Mahle was the best pitcher in the Reds' rotation, posting a 4-0 record and a 2.04 ERA in seven starts. His downturn, which included a 2 1/3-inning start on July 11 at Cleveland, relates to becoming susceptible to barrels (batted balls likely to become extra-base hits, based on their exit velocity and launch angle).
According to Statcast™, Mahle has allowed 31 barreled balls this season, tied for third most in the NL. His barrel rate during the strong seven-start stretch was 5.6 percent. In the last three starts, it's 12.2 percent. His barrel rate on non-fastballs jumped from 6.4 percent to 16.7 percent. The batting average/slugging percentage on non-fastballs rose from .242/.387 to .571/.952.
"I thought his fastball command was fantastic tonight," said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who hit a game-tying two-run homer to left field with two outs in the fourth inning. "But there's growing pains to developing secondary pitches, and it seems sometimes that our issue is putting some guys away and not getting strikeouts with the fastball. I thought he executed a lot of pitches tonight. They fought off a lot of pitches. I'm not worried at all. He's a tireless worker. He's had a great year. He's just gotten beaten up here as of late."
Mahle is the second Reds starting pitcher this week to work less than four innings after Matt Harvey provided 3 2/3 frames (eight runs) against the Pirates on Sunday. Cincinnati is using a six-man rotation through at least Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"That's the challenge," Riggleman said. "If your guys don't give you the innings, now you have one less guy in the bullpen to cover everything. So it's something we've got to look at real close."
Harvey, a free agent after the season, is the leading candidate to be dealt to a contender. But the Reds might not be able to wait until Tuesday for bullpen reinforcements after relievers cobbled together eight innings to open a four-game series against Philadelphia. If the club were to send someone out, Robert Stephenson has a 3.06 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Louisville this season. However, Stephenson just pitched on Tuesday and worked seven scoreless innings, but he would be able to provide big league bullpen length when he's ready.
SUAREZ STAYS HOT
In the first inning, Eugenio Suarez delivered a two-run blast to left-center field -- his fourth straight game with a homer -- to make it a 3-2 game. Suarez became the first Reds third baseman since Chris Stynes in 2000 to homer in four consecutive games. The club record is five straight games with a homer, which has been achieved by seven players. More >
Reds pitchers tied a club record as they were roughed up by seven home runs, including two apiece for three different Phillies.
Cincinnati has surrendered that many homers six other times in club history, most recently in 2016 when it happened twice -- May 31 at Colorado and Aug. 22 vs. the Dodgers. The Phillies tied their single-game club record with most homers in a game (Sept. 8, 1998).
HE SAID IT
"It's not the elephant in the room, it's obvious. We're not ignoring it. We've just got to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark. We can't win the game, usually, if you give up three homers -- never mind six and seven." -- Riggleman, on his club allowing a Major League-leading 154 home runs this season
The second game of the four-game series against Philadelphia is set for 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Although he was sharp for several starts, Anthony DeSclafani's last two haven't been strong. He hasn't completed six innings in three of his last four outings. Nick Pivetta will take the mound for the Phillies.
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.