Sidelines with John Clay

Stuck in a slump, the Reds make some moves

Tampa Bay Rays’ Daniel Robertson scores in front of Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco on a single by Mallex Smith during the fourth inning of Tampa Bay’s 8-3 win over the Reds on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Daniel Robertson scores in front of Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco on a single by Mallex Smith during the fourth inning of Tampa Bay’s 8-3 win over the Reds on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Associated Press

It appears the Cincinnati Reds have officially hit the skids.

After snapping a nine-game losing streak with a win at Tampa Bay on Monday, the Reds returned to their losing ways, dropping back-to-back games on Tuesday (6-5) and Wednesday (8-3).

That’s 11 losses in the last 12 games for Bryan Price’s club, which is now 30-41 on the season. Cincinnati has Thursday off, thankfully, before heading to National League East leader Washington for a three-game set that starts Friday.

The bullpen was the problem Wednesday. Starter Tim Adleman allowed three runs and seven hits, with four walks, over five innings. He left with the Reds down 3-2 in the middle of the sixth. Reliever Austin Brice allowed three runs and two runs while recording just one out. He was relieved by Wandy Peralta, who also gave up three hits and two runs while recording one out.

Offensively, the Reds managed just five hits. Jesse Winker, called up Sunday from Louisville, hit his second double of the year. Adam Duvall hit his 17th double. And Scott Schebler did hit his 20th homer of the season one day after Joey Votto hit his 20th the night before. This is the first time the Reds have had two players hit 20-or-more homers through the season’s first 71 games since 1970 when Tony Perez hit 26 and Johnny Bench 25.

Speaking of Votto, the first baseman went 0-for-1 on Wednesday but drew three walks. Votto has now reached base in 21 straight games. He’s closing in on his earlier streak of 27 straight games reaching base. Votto is fourth in the majors in on-base percentage at .419, trailing only Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (.443), the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (.443) and the Giants’ Buster Posey (.429). He’s also fourth in OPS at 1.019, trailing Judge (1.147), the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman (1.048) and Goldschmidt (1.048).

Hitting is not Cincinnati’s problem, however. Pitching is the Reds’ problem. Cincinnati is now 29th out of the majors’ 30 teams in ERA at 5.03. The Reds are tied with Baltimore for the second-most walks allowed at 269. The Miami Marlins has allowed 273.

Four Reds have made double-digit starts. All four have ERAs of over 4.00. Scott Feldman, who has started 15 games, is at 4.20. Adleman, who has made 12 starts, is at 4.30. Bronson Arroyo, with 14 starts, is at 7.35 and is now on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. (His career may be over.) And rookie Amir Garrett, who has made 12 starts, has an ERA of 7.41.

Help is on the way, or so the Reds’ hope. Starts this weekend. Rookie Luis Castillo will make his Major League debut on Friday. And Homer Bailey will return to the rotation on Saturday in what will be his first appearance since August 28 of last season.

The 24-year-old Castillo was acquired from Miami during the off-season in the Dan Straily trade. His fastball hit 100 miles per hour in spring training. he gave up just two homers in 118 innings last year in High-A ball for the Marlins. Castillo has gone 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA at Double-A Pensacola. He’s also walked just 10 batters and struck out 60 in 56 innings. That’s 1.5 walks per nine innings. Whether he can do that in the big leagues is another matter, but at this point the Reds are willing to give Castillo a try.

The 31-year-old Bailey pitched 5.2 innings for Louisville on Monday, allowing seven hits and two runs with two walks and 6 strike outs. He walked his final two batters. Bailey missed most of 2015 and 2016 after Tommy John surgery in May of 2015. He pitched in just two games in 2015 and six (for just 23 innings) in 2016. Bailey had elbow surgery to remove bone spurs in February. In three rehab starts at three different levels this year, he went 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA.

Another Reds starting pitcher on the DL was roughed up early in a rehab start on Wednesday night for Louisville. Finnegan, who hasn’t pitched for the Reds’ since April 15. He did not allow a run over five innings in two rehab appearances for Pensacola. For Louisville, however, Finnegan allowed four hits and four earned runs over five innings and 71 pitches. He struck out five but gave up two home runs, including a leadoff homer from Columbus outfielder Tyler Naquin.

There were some interesting player moves on Wednesday. Second baseman Alex Blandino and pitcher Tyler Mahle were moved from Pensacola to Louisville. Blandino was hitting .259 in 62 games. Mahle was 7-3 with a 1.59 ERA for the Blue Wahoos. He threw a perfect game back in April.

Meanwhile, second baseman Shed Long and third baseman Nick Senzel were moved from High-A Daytona to Double-A Pensacola. The 21-year-old Long was hitting .312 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 62 games. Senzel, taken with the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft out of Tennessee, was hitting .305 with four homers and 31 RBI with the Tortugas. He has a league-leading 21 doubles. His OPS was 0.847. Senzel’s fourth home run came Monday night. Before the season started, Fangraphas ranked Senzel as the 30th best prospect in MLB.

That’s what its is about now, of course, the future. The next job there is getting first-round draft pick Hunter Greene, the No. 2 pick overall, signed to a contract.

My column: Hunter Greene gives Cincinnati Reds fans a reason to hope and follow

Reds upcoming schedule

Fri, June 23 - @ Washington

Sat, June 24 - @ Washington

Sun, June 25 - @ Washington

Monday, June 26 - @ St. Louis

Tuesday, June 27 - Milwaukee

Wednesday, June 28 - Milwaukee

Thursday, June 29 - Milwaukee

Friday, June 30 - Chicago

Saturday, July 1 - Chicago

Sunday, July 2 - Chicago