The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
In 2016, Bryan Price was at the helm of a pitching staff that featured last-minute waiver claim Dan Straily, a toasted Alfredo Simon, and a bullpen that by the end of April was headlined by Ross Ohlendorf - the team's highest paid reliever at that point in time at a whopping $800K salary.
In other words, the manager largely had his hands tied, especially as a former pitching coach who was dealing with injuries to each of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Raisel Iglesias, and Michael Lorenzen. Now armed (literally) with a bullpen full of fireballers and still-top-prospects, Price is afforded the opportunity to mix and match his bullpen arms with much more authority than a year ago, and he made good on his early season promises in Monday's game to focus on leverage and multiple-inning relief spots.
Each of Lorenzen (3 perfect innings with 3 Ks) and Cody Reed (3 perfect innings with 4 Ks) got the opportunity to show their mettle in relief of a wild Brandon Finnegan, and Price rode them through an initial bases loaded scenario and eventual bulk innings to show that there are ways to absorb depth in a bullpen as talented as what Cincinnati currently possesses. Creativity? Check. 1st round prospect talent? Check. A willingness to experiment with the best arms in roles not traditionally defined? Check, check, check.
Props to Price - a former well respected pitching coach - to finding ways to get his best young arms into games without focusing on 'starts' as the lone way to judge them.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Eugenio Suarez, who homered, walked thrice, and drove in a pair; Adam Duvall, who singled in a pair of runs, scored one himself, and also walked; Billy Hamilton, who had a 3-hit night (and stole a pair of bases); Scooter Gennett, who dingered and drove in a pair; and obviously both Lorenzen and Reed, whose nights were every bit as important as Price's belief that they could occupy such important roles.
- The Top of the 1st featured Tyler Glasnow doing everything physically possible to help out the Reds, and for that we were all thankful. After Hamilton singled and put his wheels to work with a steal of 2B and a tag-up and taking of 3B on a shallow fly into RF, back to back to back to back walks of Joey Votto, Duvall, Suarez, and Scott Schebler drove in a pair of patient runs. A would-be double play off the bat of Scooter Gennett drove in another run when Gennett beat out the relay throw to 1B, and the Reds led early, 3-0.
- The Top of the 2nd brought more of the same for both Glasnow and the Reds. Hamilton smacked a 1-out single into CF, and he moved over to 2B when Jose Peraza singled behind him. Both moved up a base on tandem steals as Votto struck out, and both then scored on Duvall’s 2-RBI single into LF. Reds led, 5-0.
- Unfortunately for Brandon Finnegan, the control issues that plagued Glasnow into a 5-0 defecit also largely were plaguing him. He left a pair of runners on in the Bottom of the 1st, another pair in the Bottom of the 2nd, and after a bases loaded walk of Francisco Cervelli in the Bottom of the 3rd drove in Pittsburgh’s first run of the game, manager Bryan Price made the call to move on from the Reds’ starter and let the bullpen sort things out. Fortunately, Lorenzen made quick work of the would-be additional damage, and the Reds escaped still leading, 5-1.
- Suarez has made a habit of simply destroying LHP early in his big league career, and that played out again against Wade LeBlanc in the Top of the 5th, as Henny-O spanked a solo homer into the LF seats. Reds led, 6-1.
- After the lefty LeBlanc finally gave way in his mop-up duty to Antonio Bastardo, late edition to the lineup Scooter Gennett took advantage. Despite long struggling against LHP, the lefty-swinging Gennett swatted a solo homer in the Top of the 8th to put Cincinnati ahead, 7-1.
- From that point on, the electric combo of Reed and Lorenzen - augmented by Wandy Peralta's lockdown 9th inning - led the Reds to a damn impressive, inventive 7-1 win!
- Hot damn, that's a way to show some incredible creativity in winning a game.
- Tuesday will feature the second career big league start for Rookie Davis when the Reds tangle with the Pirates in the middle game of the series in Pittsburgh. The Pirates will send a youngster of their own to the mound in Jameson Taillon, with first pitch again scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
- Reds Bullpen Tunes.