Sal Romano got his first taste of big league action on Sunday, getting the nod to start for the Cincinnati Reds against the Milwaukee Brewers in the rotation spot vacated by fellow rookie Rookie Davis. Romano’s roster spot was opened was opened when Jesse Winker’s initial cup of coffee was ended after just three days, and it seems now that Romano’s initial call-up will be every bit as brief.
Romano lasted just 3 innings in Sunday's start, and that's just a microcosm of why Lisalverto Bonilla is getting called up. The Cincinnati bullpen threw 18 innings over the final three games of the Milwaukee series, and even with Monday's off-day the Reds decided they could use another arm capable of eating innings. With 57.2 IP so far in the young season, the Reds' bullpen has thrown more innings than any other MLB team, which makes sense considering the 58.1innings thrown by the beleaguered starting staff is the fewest from any team in the big leagues - including several teams who have played two fewer games than Cincinnati.
Bonilla, 26, is 2-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 2 GS with AAA Louisville so far this year, having logged 11.1 innings as part of their starting rotation. He's got experience throughout the minors and during his 2014 big league stint with the Texas Rangers as a reliever, however, and since he last pitched on April 14th, he'll bring the ability to eat innings in a pinch to a Reds staff that's been struggling to see starters pitch deep into games. Considering the potent Baltimore Orioles offense is rolling into town, that's likely where Bonilla will serve as insurance.
What's interesting about the option of Romano, however, comes when you look at the larger picture of the Cincinnati starting rotation. With the recent DL trip of Brandon Finnegan, that leaves Bronson Arroyo, Amir Garrett, and Scott Feldman as the lone locks in the rotation, which is why you'll see the team's Probable Pitchers for the upcoming weekend series with the Chicago Cubs still listed as TBD. Rookie Davis will be eligible to come off the 10-day DL to make one of those starts, so perhaps the option of Romano is an indication that the forearm bruise he suffered last week has healed to the point where he'll be good to go. Or, perhaps it's an indication that one of Robert Stephenson or Cody Reed - or both - will make the move from the bullpen to the rotation to help fill the void.
Regardless, Romano will surely be back in the mix again later this season, and Bonilla will get to make his Cincinnati Reds debut when he first gets the call from Bryan Price.