Cessa heads to bullpen as Reds try four-man rotation

May 5th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Taking advantage of some off days in their schedule, the Reds have decided to go with a four-man rotation through one turn. Struggling starter is the odd man out, manager David Bell revealed on Friday.

After 's start in Friday's series opener vs. the White Sox, is slated to pitch on Saturday. was moved up to start Sunday to stay on his normal four days of rest. was moved back to start Tuesday's series opener vs. the Mets, followed by Greene and Lodolo.

Cincinnati, which was off on Thursday, is scheduled off again on Monday.

Through six starts, Cessa is 1-4 with a 9.36 ERA and has logged more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) in 25 innings. His most recent start came in Wednesday's 7-1 loss to the Padres, where he pitched 3 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs, four hits and three walks with two strikeouts. He had trouble throwing strikes in the game, with eight of his 16 batters reaching ball three.

Cessa will be used out of the bullpen for the time being.

“It’s a different role, something that he’s more familiar with at the Major League level anyway, where he’s had success," Bell said. "Every day, we’re going out to try to win a game. We know that Luis is going to pitch out of the bullpen and we think he can help us there."

Cessa, 31, is 12-4 with a 3.82 in 172 career games as a reliever with the Yankees and Reds -- including a 2.51 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 2021. During the '22 season, he switched from the bullpen to rotation and made 10 starts with a 4.30 ERA.

Bell expected Cessa to be recovered from his last start and available to pitch in relief within a couple of days. He will also continue to work with pitching coach Derek Johnson.

"When he’s fully back 100 percent, then we’ll make him available out of the bullpen," Bell said.

It's unclear if Cessa would return to the rotation when the Reds will need five starters again.

The Reds would have an intriguing option at Triple-A Louisville to call up if they moved on from Cessa as a starter. Left-hander Andrew Abbott, who is ranked as the organization's No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is one of Minor League Baseball's hottest starters.

Abbott, 23, is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 0.74 WHIP through five starts at Louisville and Double-A Chattanooga. In 25 2/3 innings, he has allowed 11 hits and eight walks while striking out 51 of the 95 batters he's faced.

One potential holdup for Abbott, however, is that he's logged only two Triple-A starts since his promotion to Louisville two weeks ago. The club could be apprehensive about rushing him to the big leagues.

If the Reds didn't go with Abbott, they could look at right-hander and No. 14 prospect Levi Stoudt or more veteran pitchers like Ben Lively or Kevin Herget.