Price decides to use closer-by-committee

With Hoover struggling, manager shakes up bullpen

April 20th, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price slept on it Tuesday night and thought about it some more on Wednesday before deciding to make a change at the closer's spot. J.J. Hoover is no longer locked in as the team's closer and Price will use a closer-by-committee method.

"I talked to J.J., I told him 'I'm going to bring you in different situations and sometimes that might be the ninth and sometimes it might be the seventh or eighth,'" Price said after the Reds' 6-5 win over the Rockies. "He needs to get himself on a roll and start to pitch the way we've seen almost the entire 2015 season. Because I want him to be our closer -- badly."

Hoover wasn't available to pitch anyway against the Rockies on Wednesday after he worked on back-to-back nights and three of the past four games.

Through seven appearances and 5 1/3 innings, Hoover has a 15.19 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP, with 10 runs (nine earned), eight hits, four walks and three home runs allowed. Asked to get the final two outs in the ninth inning on Tuesday, he gave up an infield single and Mark Reynolds' two-run homer as the Reds had to hang on for a 4-3 victory over the Rockies.

Hoover gave up a three-run homer before his first save of the season vs. the Cardinals in a 9-8 win on Saturday. He also surrendered a grand slam on April 8 vs. the Pirates. Entering Spring Training, he was the only reliever who seemed to have a set role as he was tabbed to replace Aroldis Chapman. Hoover is getting the same swing-and-miss percentage this season -- 25 percent -- that he had in a solid 2015. But when he gets hit, he's getting hit hard. The opposition is batting .333 against him.

Price cited Wednesday morning that Hoover needed to display better pitch efficiency and command.

This isn't just about Hoover struggling, as the Reds' bullpen ranks 28th in the Majors with a 6.04 ERA after Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood blew a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning on Wednesday. Leading up to the ninth through 15 games, Price has tried a number of reliever combinations without consistent success.

"I want to define that role so there's some clarity on how I'm going to use Tony Cingrani," Price said. "If I can think about moving Cingrani up into that [closer's] role, I have no left-handed pitching, no situational [lefty]. … I hate to say there's ambiguity, but you can only stay with defined roles for so long, and really with the exception of J.J., there hasn't been any defined roles this year."

Price realized that closer-by-committee situations are often viewed negatively.

"There's an ugly connotation to that, however we went through that in 2014 when [Chapman] got hit in the face and he missed the first five weeks of the season, so we utilized some different guys to get the job done and then [Jonathan] Broxton came back and he held the job until Chapman got back.

"With our situation [this season], we can say it because you don't have defined superstars and closers who think they're entitled to certain parts of the game."

Rehab assignment schedule

• Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday with Triple-A Louisville. Lefty pitcher John Lamb, working back from December back surgery, is slated to have his second rehab start for Louisville on Friday.

• Starter Anthony DeSclafani, on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, will begin his rehab assignment on Saturday with a start for Double-A Pensacola.