Bell stands by decision to pull Overton

May 1st, 2022

DENVER – Even after the move backfired, Reds manager David Bell stood firm by his decision.

Bell pulled starting pitcher Connor Overton from a strong outing with one out and one on in the sixth inning vs. the Rockies on Saturday. Overton had been handling himself well twice through the Rockies’ lineup, and Bell didn’t want to give Colorado’s hitters another chance.

Reliever Art Warren was on the hook for a four-run rally that doomed the Reds to a 4-3 loss at Coors Field.

“Art has been one of our best pitchers for the last couple of years. No hesitation there,” Bell said. “Overton did a great job. He did his job. Third time back around the order in this ballpark against that lineup, Art was the guy.”

Having lost 16 of its last 17 games, Cincinnati’s record dropped to 3-18. That equals the 2018 franchise record for the worst start to a season through 21 games.

In 5 1/3 innings, Overton allowed one run and three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Despite often pitching behind in the count, he still delivered good results.

“I’m happy with it. What I wanted to do was come and give these guys a quality start and a chance to win,” Overton said. “That’s the only reason I’m here. I just hope I can continue to do that.”

Overton, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville to replace the injured Nick Lodolo, had big league experience last season with the Blue Jays and Pirates. He seemed on his way to notching both his first win in the Majors and Cincinnati’s first quality start of 2022.

Neither would come to fruition, however.

“To come into Coors Field, hold these guys to one or two runs without your best stuff, I think is something that is really encouraging for him,” said Reds catcher Aramis Garcia, who hit a solo homer in the eighth. “I’m really happy he’s here. He makes us better.”

With only two singles allowed through five scoreless innings, Overton nursed a 2-0 lead. No Colorado hitter had reached second base against the right-hander, thanks in part to Garcia throwing out two baserunners.

“To step in a big game for us against that team in this ballpark and throw strikes – made pitches, two different breaking balls, really, just great command and did his job. What a great start,” Bell said.

When Overton returned for the bottom of the sixth inning with only 69 pitches, Bell already had Warren warming up in the bullpen. Alan Trejo opened with a single that went under third baseman Mike Moustakas’ glove and into left field. Overton then got a flyout from No. 9 hitter Dom Nuñez.

“Physically, arm felt good. I felt like I probably could have gotten a few more outs, but that’s part of it,” Overton said.

Bell decided it was time to make a pitching change.

“Connor pitched great. It wasn’t about that. It was about Art coming in right there and picking him up,” Bell said.

Warren immediately pitched himself and the Reds into deep trouble. Connor Joe walked on four pitches to put two men on. Charlie Blackmon scorched an RBI double off the right-field wall, with Joe scoring the tying run when right fielder Jake Fraley’s throw missed the cutoff man and rolled through the infield for an error.

“Maybe I was a little bit too excited to go into that moment and tried to maybe overdo things and didn’t really stay within myself there,” Warren said.

After Randal Grichuk walked and C.J. Cron popped out, Ryan McMahon slugged a two-run triple to right field off Warren that gave Colorado the lead.

“It’s frustrating,” Warren said. “I think we played really good as a team tonight. Guys threw the ball well. Connor threw the ball well. Lucas [Sims] threw the ball well. Dauri [Moreta] threw the ball well. It was frustrating for me to get that opportunity to go in there and try to help the team win and [not] pull through.”

Before Saturday, Warren had held opponents scoreless in five of his six appearances.

“If Art had a night that he typically has, we wouldn’t be asking these questions,” Bell said. “I understand the question, but at the same time, like I already said, Connor pitched great. Could he have done it? Absolutely. But so could have Art. I have no regrets bringing Art Warren into that game.”