For this week’s question we asked some of the writers from Redleg Nation about how the team has used relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen.
Question: Would you have used Michael Lorenzen in a different manner than the way David Bell has? And if so, how?
Jim Walker: I would try to get Lorenzen plate appearances more regularly and frequently than he has gotten this year. Using him for multiple innings in his mound appearances would accomplish this in two ways. First, he is likely to get at least one plate appearance while in a game as a pitcher, saving a pinch hitter. Saturday night versus the Cardinals was the perfect set up of this scenario. Secondly, this usage would require a down day between pitching appearances during which Lorenzen would slot into the bench rotation.
An additional benefit of this usage pattern is Lorenzen seems to thrive and do his some of his best mound work when he pitches earlier in games for longer stretches. Thus it becomes a win/ win proposition.
Jason Linden: Lorenzen has been used exactly as he should have been. The time to give him serious time in the outfield and at the plate was when he was drafted, not now. He has 107 plate appearances in the big leagues and for most of those, he’s been pitched to like he’s a pitcher. He strikes out a ton and doesn’t walk. If he were given significant playing time, he’d quickly be exposed. His offensive numbers are almost a carbon copy of those that Micah Owings put up once upon a time.
Don’t get me wrong, Lorenzen is an incredible hitter… for a pitcher. But an occasional turn as a pinch hitter when the situation is appropriate is all that should happen. He’s a pitcher, let him pitch. In an alternate universe, he might have been allowed to develop as a two-way player, but that’s not the universe in which we reside.
Bill Lack: At the beginning of the year, I thought he’d play more in the OF than he has. I don’t think the Reds anticipated Senzel being as consistent offensively, as good defensively, or as much of an everyday player as he’s been. I thought Bell/the Reds thought they’d be switching Senzel out of the lineup more in CF. And I also don’t know if they anticipated Lorenzen being used as much as he has out of the bullpen (leads in appearances and innings), which limits the amount they can use him in other ways.
Ashley Davis: I would have given Michael Lorenzen more plate appearances through the middle of the season. Through May, June and July, it seemed David Bell forgot Lorenzen was an option off the bench, as he received only four plate appearances despite pitching multiple innings 15 times. Yes, every game depends on pitcher matchups and when he pitches vs. when the pitcher’s spot comes up in the lineup. However, it’s a little odd that Bell found a way to get him eight plate appearances in April and hardly any for the next three months, especially when Lorenzen was pitching a lot of multiple innings.
Steve Mancuso: On the one hand, I would have liked to see Lorenzen get more time in the outfield and at the plate. It’s been obvious that David Bell does trust Lorenzen in the outfield — he’s used him as a defensive substitute. On the other hand, it’s not like the Reds don’t have outfield options that have needed to play. Anyone who says Lorenzen deserved more plate appearances should be specific about which position player should have received fewer. That goes for today, as well. Bottom line is I think Bell has gotten it just about right, given the options.
Doug Gray: When the season began I would have said that I expected more at-bats for Michael Lorenzen than he’s gotten. He got two over the weekend, singling in both at-bats, giving him 14 for the entire season. After all of the talk, and even the usage in spring training it sure felt like they’d use him more as a hitter than once every week-and-a-half.
With that said, given how the roster has played out throughout the year, it makes sense. Lorenzen probably hasn’t been option 1, 2, or 3 off of the bench as a pinch hitter most of the time this season. Maybe he could have stayed in a game and hit for himself a few more times than he has, but it seems like David Bell has gone with the guys who hit for a living more than Lorenzen, and it’s tough to argue that he shouldn’t have given how many of his options have performed.