Rookie stopper? DeSclafani coming up big for Reds
Right-hander extends scoreless-innings streak to snap Cincy's slide
MILWAUKEE -- Anointing a pitcher as a stopper when he has made eight Major League starts would generally be a shaky proposition. But the evidence is pointing toward Anthony DeSclafani as a pitcher who can be relied upon by the Cincinnati Reds.
In his last two starts, DeSclafani has halted three-game and four-game Cincinnati losing streaks. The four-game skid came to a halt Monday night at Miller Park. DeSclafani pitched eight shutout innings, eight terrific innings, leading the Reds to a 6-1 victory over the Brewers.
The final score was at least slightly misleading regarding the nature of this game. It was scoreless through five innings. Apart from the Reds' recent losing streak, DeSclafani was pitching under considerable pressure.
He was masterful and efficient. He needed only 91 pitches -- 67 of them strikes -- to cover the eight innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out five. The sample size is small, but DeSclafani has not given up a run in his last two starts. His ERA in three starts this year is 0.86.
"He was on, he was locked in, he had great pitch quality," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "For a young guy trying to get established in the league, he's given us some really good quality. No one can expect a guy to come out and throw the ball as well as he has in his first three starts, but he's been a huge boost for us, for sure."
DeSclafani, who turned 25 on Saturday, came to the Reds from Miami in the Mat Latos trade. He is pitching more like a finished product than a rookie pitcher.
"He knew that this was a very important game for us," catcher Brayan Pena said. "Coming from the bullpen, he told me that he was ready for his game. And man, he really proved it.
"He was mixing it up, everything was working beautifully for him today. But in my humble opinion, the key thing was that he was ahead in the count, all the time. ... He was very impressive."
DeSclafani exudes a quiet confidence that functions in concert with a workmanlike approach.
"Obviously, I believe in myself," he said. "Any big leaguer who is up here believes in himself. I just try to stay consistent in my mindset, on a day-to-day basis, on an outing-to-outing basis.
"You've just got to do your best to execute your pitches and let the defense play behind you. And they've been phenomenal. I've felt great with this team since Day 1. They've been really great and supportive, and I can't ask for anything more than that."
The Reds like DeSclafani's stuff, his approach, his makeup, his demeanor.
"He's just an inherently confident guy," Price said. "That's one thing we ask our pitchers to do, is to be emotionally stable when they pitch. He's throwing the ball really well; he's throwing three pitches for strikes. He's doing all the little things. He's got a really nice changeup that he's developed here through Spring Training and into the early part of the season. I think it's a necessary pitch for Anthony to be a quality starting pitcher.
"There's something to be said for young guys getting their feet wet at the big league level and he's done it with some style. He's been very effective for us. We hope to see that trend continue."
When it is mentioned to DeSclafani that he has thrown 15 straight shutout innings over the last two starts, he moves quickly into a different frame of reference.
"In my mind, I haven't thrown any shutout innings," he said. "It's going to be the same approach [in the next start], take it inning by inning and try to put up zeros. That stat doesn't really cross my mind. As long as the team wins, then I'm happy."
Both the Reds and DeSclafani can be happy with his early returns. In games he starts, the Reds are 3-0. The rest of the time they are 3-7.