Thursday’s starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds has not yet been named. With the doubleheader on Sunday – one that featured Trevor Bauer starting game two – there’s been some speculation as to who would step in to make that start. Bauer has lobbied to start every 4th day this year in a shorter season.

In this particular writers opinion that shouldn’t happen. It’s not that he couldn’t do it in a 1-off situation – he could. He’s done it before, as have many others in more recent history of the modern 5-man rotation – particularly once the playoff get going. But this week has already been a bit of a strange one for Trevor Bauer, who was actually set to pitch on Saturday in Detroit and went through some of his warm up routine before the game was delayed and eventually postponed. And while the on-mound results were outstanding – he picked up a complete game shutout victory in 7-innings – we saw signs that he wasn’t 100%, too.

His fastball velocity was down over 1.5 MPH. His slider velocity was down 1.8 MPH. The curveball? Yep, it was down a MPH in velocity. The cutter? 1.5 MPH down.

But it wasn’t just the velocity that tells us that he wasn’t 100%. After the game, Trevor Bauer said as much. “I was fighting myself the entire time, command wise, early, being exhausted basically the entire game from whatever you want to call yesterday,” said Bauer. “I tried to elevate my heart rate, jump my velo artificially as I can do sometimes and then I’d get really tired right away. But if I didn’t do that I was throwing 91 and I felt out of it. So it was just a constant struggle and when it was over it was finally like I could take a deep breath. But I couldn’t really take a deep breath, I couldn’t get a deep breath all day for whatever reason. It was kind of that release of the mindset, it was exhausting. It was mentally exhausting and it was physically exhausting.”

If you look around Major League Baseball today you will see a ton of pitching injuries. Guys are getting injured at rates that we don’t see in a normal season. The shorter ramp up time is likely leading to a lot of these extra injuries popping up on top of just your normal pitching injuries.

Even with Wade Miley on the injured list for the Cincinnati Reds and the team having to go to Tyler Mahle to fill out the rotation, the team has options they could lean on for Thursday. Option number one could be Tejay Antone, who hasn’t pitched in a game since he made his Major League debut on July 27th. The right-handed pitcher allowed one hit – a solo homer – in 4.1 otherwise hitless innings with a walk and five strikeouts. And he looked really good while doing so, too. There’s also Jose De Leon on the Prasco Park roster who has big league experience and could be recalled to the roster to fill in.

The Reds seem primed for success in 2020. Even with the 60-game season, and more than half of the league making the playoffs – this team will need Trevor Bauer healthy and ready to be 100% to get where they want to be. Keep him on regular rest and go with another option for Thursday’s game in Cleveland.

33 Responses

  1. Tomn

    Completely agree with this article. Why rush Bauer? Mahle is not a bad option for a #5 starter. Don’t risk injury to Bauer. That would be foolish.

    • Tomn

      And indeed Antone looked VERY good in his lone outing. So much so, that perhaps HE should be the #5 starter. That guy rocked it.

      • Gonzo Reds

        I’m in for Antone getting the start and figure 4 innings for him. I’m fine with activating DeLeon with the plan of him pitching behind Antone for a couple of innings when Tejay gets tired. Option Raley to Prasco and leave him there. Bowman up instead when DeLeon goes back down.

      • Doug Gray

        Bowman’s likely gone for the year. He’s currently on the 45-day injured list.

      • Gonzo Reds

        I meant Kuhnel but Bowman pretty good as well when healthy.

        Say… how do you put a picture in the ID box to show up?

      • Doug Gray

        Go to Gravatar.com and create an account there using the same email address that you use to comment on wordpress sites (like this one) and easy peasy.

  2. Charlie Waffles

    I’d like to see Antone get the Thursday start also. They have kept him inactive since his debut for a reason.
    The Reds have some amazing pitching depth this season. As noted in the article, there have been a number of pitching injuries already. The Braves have a slew of pitching prospects but not many with MLB starting experience or have been a little underwhelming at the MLB level. With Soroka going down for the season last night the Braves are in a bit of a jam now. Antone is a keeper. But the Reds have Miley (IL), RStephenson (IL), possibly Mahle, possibly Lucas Sims, De Leon, Romano, and Lorenzen all with starting experience they could dangle to the Braves. Without affecting their own rotation or bullpen much at all. They all have varying amounts of team control. But the Reds could be somewhat limited in their return with only the Braves 60 man roster players available. The Braves might want to aim higher than a Miley or Romano, but I do know they would love to get Sims back.

  3. Mark Moore

    OK, Doug. Your analysis made the case for me. And I’m in favor of Antone getting the nod for Thursday. I know Trevor would LOVE to take it to Cleveland this week, but better for all if he’s rested and ready to open in Milwaukee. After all, we know those games won’t get delayed due to weather.

  4. The Duke

    Antone is the pretty clear choice to me. You could piggy back him and Mahle if you are concerned about the bullpen, but either way I want to see what Antone can do going into a game knowing he is starting the game off and preparing for it as opposed to being thrown in early in the game after the start and having to rescue the rest of the pitching staff.

  5. Sliotar

    Lucas Sims.

    Started games last season in Louisville and in Cincinnati.

    Has been great in 2020 … good chance to give him more exposure as a starter, or at least as a modified “Opener” for a few innings.

    Bauer is a “must” for the Reds to go deep in the playoffs.

    Nice take, Doug.

    • Doug Gray

      If Sims hadn’t been used like he has thus far in 2020, he probably would have been in the conversation for me. But he’s been a 20-pitch guy for the last two weeks, and has been a go-to option for Bell in the bullpen. If you’re going to go with an opener and just try to piece together a full on bullpen day, I can get behind that. But the team has Tejay Antone and Jose De Leon and I think I’d rather just roll with either of them and see what happens and save a guy like Sims with the hopes he can be used later in the game (or a different game for that matter) with a lead and more leverage.

  6. Chris

    I’m torn. I personally think that Bauer would be fine. I think he has trained to the degree that he would be fine. I also think that some of the comments from Bauer, noted in your article were taken a bit out of context. I believe Bauer was referring to being physically tired due to the challenge he faced on the mound, with not having his really good stuff. Further, if he was physically tired from pitching, it may have also been due to him heating it up in warm-ups less than 24 hours earlier. With that said, I don’t know for sure. If Bauer doesn’t go though, I would agree with Antone being the guy because he’s well rested, and in his only appearance went 4.5 innings. Yes, it’s good to go deep into the playoffs, but getting there is priority number one, and a Bauer on 1 day less rest is better than Atone, or any of the other options.

    • Doug Gray

      I saw all 9 minutes of the interview. I don’t believe that I missed the context.

      But even if it were, I still think it’s a bad idea to take a guy who wasn’t 100% his last outing because of a messed up routine and then follow that up by pitching him on short rest that will once again mess with his routine. It just seems risky for no actual reason. If the Reds had to give a start to Alex Blandino, maybe the risk there makes more sense. With what the team has as far as other options, though, it’s just a tough sell for me that it’s a good idea.

  7. DaveCT

    Has there been any word on Robert Stephenson? Getting him back in the pen will help. Losing Bowman sure makes the Nate Jones pickup look good.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s certainly possible I could have missed an update on Stephenson, but I haven’t seen one.

  8. Mullet Man

    I think Bauer should pitch Thursday if he wants to. He definitely wasn’t 100% last start and he said that himself. If he was able to get back on his routine yesterday then I don’t see any reason to worry about him pitching on short rest. His trust in bio-mechanics should theoretically make him less likely to get hurt, because he’s using his body the correct way instead of forcing movements that would eventually result in injury. In the end I feel Bauer is a vet that should get to make this decision.

    • Doug Gray

      Pitching while not 100% leads to forcing movements and other things (ligaments, muscles, tendons) being stressed further than usual.

      Throwing him on short rest isn’t getting him back on routine. Routine is pitching on 4 days rest.

  9. Roger Garrett

    Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.Other options to go to as has been mentioned.Bauer knows himself better then anybody so it may come down to what he wants to do but at some point he must get back to pitching every 5th day.After the fiasco in Detroit seems like he should be pushed out until Friday.

  10. Mullet Man

    I completely agree with you, but again I feel this is Bauer’s decision more than the Reds. If he says he can go you trust that and go with it. A lot of variables are going on in this situation and in the end you trust the guy that’s got to throw the ball. 162 game season management has more of a reason to step in. That’s just my opinion though. Will be very interesting to see what direction they go.

    • Doug Gray

      It should NEVER be the players decision because they are ALWAYS going to want to go. They want to win. They’ll do just about anything to win. It’s a part of what makes them great – that desire to push themselves (on top of God given athletic skills, of course). You have to take that choice away from them because they’ll always choose to go, to play, to push through, even when it’s not a good idea.

      • TR

        You do want to protect a player from themselves. Although we are seeing more and more players listening to their bodies and sitting out. May not be as many in baseball, but the CoVid opt outs show players choosing their health (and family) above winning at all costs. Trevor seems to be one who knows his body well, but now is not the time to test it.

  11. Old-school

    What can’t happen? This elite SP rotation getting injured. Remember our old friend Aaron Harang ? 32 wins in 2006/7, workhorse and innings machine and 4 th in Cy young voting 2007 in the NL.

    In 2008- road trip to San Diego. Harang threw 100+ pitches on a Thursday. Then came back on Sunday in an 18 inning game and threw 4 innings with 9 K’s and 63 more pitches. Then he came back for his normal start against the Pirates and got shelled and wasn’t the same guy.

    He is quoted as saying that 18 inning game changed his career and how dead his arm was and how it changed his mechanics . He went on the DL and missed months and left Cincinnati.

    No, Trevor we need you out there for a long time. There’s a 30 man roster still Thursday. Go with a lefty opener – Cody Reed and have Antone warming up ready to pitch 4 innings. If Reed looks good, give him 2 innings. If he doesn’t, a quick hook.

    • Chris

      Bauer and Harang aren’t even in the same stratosphere when comparing the two when it comes to training and understanding the deep technical side of pitching. Not the best comparison.

      • Old-school

        At no point did I compare Harang with Bauer.

        Using Harang was an example of how overuse in a short period could have long term injury implications abd risks player health.

        Bauer was angry and vehement that the Tigers risked his health, by allowing him to ramp up and then cancel the game 8 minutes before start time.

      • Doug Gray

        Trevor Bauer’s arm isn’t made any differently than Aaron Harang’s arm. Tendons, ligaments, muscles – they still work the same way when throwing a baseball.

  12. Jeffery Stroupe

    I think the manager may just know a little more than us arm chair pitching coaches. ..really not that big a deal unless this is a field filler article

    • Grand Salami

      And that’s the perfect answer.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      That sets up what I believe is an ideal situation of Bauer-Gray-DeSclafani starting in the three games this weekend against a tough divisional foe in Milwaukee.

  13. Gonzo Reds

    That’s the way to go I agree.