The Cincinnati Reds made a fairly significant roster move prior to the start of Thursday’s series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team chose to option struggling left-hander Cody Reed back to AAA Louisville to work on his command, in his place calling up former Miami Marlins reliever Austin Brice.
The #Reds have recalled RHP Austin Brice from the Triple-A @LouisvilleBats and optioned LHP Cody Reed to Louisville. pic.twitter.com/zNlevrtUWa— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 4, 2017
You can rightly balk at calling the optioning of a reliever to the minors with a 6.43 ERA and as many walks this year (15) as strikeouts (15) "a significant roster move," but with Reed it’s hardly about his 2017 performance. Having just turned 24 years old and with a prospect pedigree and pitch arsenal as good as his, it’s clear that his development will be a key part of the Reds emerging from the rebuilding stage to again challenge in the NL Central. And the reality is, so far Reed hasn’t cut it at the big league level despite multiple chances both as a starter and as a reliever.
So, it’s significant because of who it involved in the grand scheme, yet admittedly not so important based on how it’ll hurt the performance of the pitching staff right now.
Taking his spot on the active roster will be Brice, one of the key pieces of the Dan Straily trade from last winter. He’s got big league experience already at age 24, having thrown 14 innings of relief for Miami last year. The 7.07 ERA in those innings was rather unsightly, but that stemmed largely from the 6 ER he allowed in his final pair of appearances to finish the year, as he sported a 3.55 ERA with 14 Ks over his initial 12.2 innings once called up. He was a legitimate candidate to make the Reds’ bullpen out of spring training, but a nerve issue shut him down and effectively ended that shot.
In building back up his arm strength, Brice allowed 4 ER in 13 innings so far in 2017 split between AA Pensacola and AAA Louisville.
From the sound of it, Reed will be stretched out as a starter back with the Bats, which will give Reds manager Bryan Price more flexibility with Reed later this year should he again find the strike zone well enough to get called back up. That, to me, suggests he'll be down for a pretty decent stint. That means the exchange of Brice for Reed paired with the lingering oblique issue that Tony Cingrani is dealing with leaves Wandy Peralta as the lone lefty in Cincinnati’s bullpen for the time being.