Iglesias, Garrett rejoin Reds' bullpen

Mahle hopeful on sore hammy; Lavarnway starts strong; Hughes struggles

July 21st, 2019

CINCINNATI -- The struggling Reds bullpen got its two best relievers back on Saturday. Closer was activated from the three-day paternity list, while lefty setup man came off the 10-day injured list.

To make room on the roster, right-handed relievers Matt Bowman and Jimmy Herget were optioned to Triple-A Louisville before the Reds' 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday night at Great American Ball Park. Garrett got the win, throwing a scoreless seventh inning with two strikeouts.

Garrett, who had been out since July 4 with a left lat strain, was scheduled to throw an inning on a rehab assignment for Louisville at Scranton Wilkes-Barre. But a canceled flight connection in Detroit scratched his appearance and he drove back to Cincinnati. It was decided not to delay his return any longer.

“I feel good, that’s the most important thing,” Garrett said before the game. “I just wanted one [rehab game] to make sure my arsenal of pitches was pretty good, but I mean I can do that here. It doesn’t really matter. I just have to go out there and get outs anyway.”

Including Saturday night's game, Garrett is 4-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 43 appearances this season.

While Iglesias was activated, he was not with the team on Saturday. After the game, Reds manager David Bell said the closer “is not going to be [here] until tomorrow morning. Everything is fine. He just needed a little bit more time and wasn’t able to get here in time. We had to activate him. He had a very good reason. Everything is great and he’ll be here tomorrow.” In his absence, Michael Lorenzen recorded a six-out save.

Iglesias is 2-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 39 games with 17 saves in 19 chances.

It’s been a rough run for the Reds bullpen, which had a 7.83 ERA in 10 games since July 6 before Saturday's win.

“When you lose two guys like that from any bullpen, it’s affects everything,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s definitely been a factor in our games. It’s great to have both of those guys.”

Mahle has sore hamstring

After Tyler O’Neill singled against him during the sixth inning of Cincinnati’s 12-11 loss to the Cardinals on Friday, Reds starter appeared to limp off the field upon being taken out. Mahle was diagnosed with left hamstring tightness after the game.

“It happened on the last pitch he threw,” Bell said. “He’s a little sore. We’re hoping he can start Wednesday in Milwaukee. We’re hoping he can recover in the next couple of days and we wouldn’t need to do anything. The good thing is he doesn’t have to run. He would have to hit. The main thing is, can he pitch? We’re hopeful. We knew he’d be a little sore today.”

Lavarnway has superb debut

New Reds backup catcher subscribed to the notion Friday that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. His big night was overshadowed in the loss to the Cardinals, but Lavarnway went 3-for-4 in his Reds debut, with two home runs and a career-high six RBIs.

“I was just enjoying it,” Lavarnway said. “I’ve been up and down so many times, you never know when it’s going to be the last time. Early in my career, I didn’t let myself really enjoy the highs. I tried to be stoic. I tried to be Jason Varitek, but I’m a human being.”

Lavarnway was released from the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday and signed with the Reds Thursday after the team lost two more catchers -- Curt Casali and Kyle Farmer -- to injuries. He became the first Reds player to hit two homers in his first game for the team and also drive in more than three RBIs. Lavarnway also was just the fourth Major Leaguer to collect at least three hits, two homers and six RBIs in a debut for a team -- joining Sam Horn (1990), Brant Alyea (1970) and Roman Mejias (1962).

It’s been a career of perseverance for Lavarnway, who has played parts of eight seasons in the big leagues for the Red Sox, Orioles, Braves, A’s and Pirates. The 31-year-old former Yale student has also spent parts of nine seasons in Triple-A.

“I feel like I’m a cat with nine lives right now,” Lavarnway said. “I’m really grateful to be here, grateful for the opportunity and I’m going to do everything I can to play my best.”

Hughes struggling, giving up homers

Last year, in his first season for the Reds, reliever was pivotal in the late innings and posted a 1.94 ERA in 72 games with four homers allowed over 78 2/3 innings. This season, Hughes came into Saturday with six homers over 38 games and 38 2/3 innings -- including Jose Martinez’s three-run homer that put St. Louis ahead in the sixth inning on Friday.

“When I fall behind in the count, I go to the heart of the plate. When I go to the heart of the plate, it’s way easier to hit,” Hughes said. “If you look back at the home runs I’ve given up this year, they’ve been over the heart of the plate. I need to execute pitches a lot better.”

Hughes has a 3.03 ERA overall this season; all four runs he allowed Friday were unearned. But he’s been used in lower-leverage situations for a large part of 2019 compared to ’18.