It’s been a struggle in 2020 for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, and for Michael Lorenzen it’s been an even bigger one. The right-handed reliever has been very good since transitioning to the bullpen following the 2015 season, posting an ERA of 3.39 in 297.1 innings from 2016-2019 for the Reds. But 2020 has been a 2-week stretch that he would like to have not gone through. On Sunday he entered the game with a 11.81 ERA in six appearances, and on top of the seven earned runs he was charged with, he had also allowed both inherited runners he entered games with on base to score. Only one game of the six saw him not allow at least one run.

Sunday in Milwaukee was more of the same. Sonny Gray exited the game with one out and two runners on in the 6th inning. Michael Lorenzen came in and allowed a walk, an RBI single, and then walked in two more runs before being replaced by Cody Reed. No outs recorded, two inherited runs scored, and he was charged with three earned runs of his own. At the end of the day his ERA sits at 16.88.

“It really comes back to as much success as Michael’s had in his career, right now he’s struggling with his confidence,” said manager David Bell after the game. “Main thing is, we need him. We need him to be good. We know he’s going to, and I’m going to make sure he knows that. That’s the most important thing. We’re just going to help him through it and keep looking for opportunities to allow him to pitch through it.”

The Reds have used Michael Lorenzen in critical situations this season due to his track record in the past. That hasn’t turned out so well given how he’s pitched this year, though.

“We have to always pay attention to who’s pitching well,” said Bell. “You trust the track record, but of course we’re evaluating every day to see where guys are and to know where to use guys and with where we are in our bullpen, or anytime where we have a lead or a close game and we have to get through the 6th to 9th inning, Michael’s going to get an opportunity to pitch in that game. Simple as that – it didn’t work out today. Michael’s going to be fine, Michael’s going to be a good pitcher for a long time and we just need to do everything we can to help him through this. I know in the end it’s on him, and that’s really what I trust – I believe in him a ton, we all do, he’s going to get through it.”

With runners on base, and Lorenzen having had the struggles that he has had during the early part of this season, Bell explained why he was the option in the 6th.

“We had Michael up in the 5th, and then Sonny really made some pitches so we decided we were going to let him go back out. In order to get through the nine innings today, Michael was one of the guys we were going to go to today,” Bell said. “The fact that he was hot, if we would have sat him back down – never crossed my mind. Mainly because we believe in Michael and we wanted to give him the ball right there. We had Michael, Amir, Nate Jones, and Iggy – basically an inning a piece, max. They were all going to get the ball in order to get a win there.”

Moving forward it sounds like there could be some changes in how Michael Lorenzen could be used after his struggles this weekend in Milwaukee.

“We got to do whatever is best for Michael. I haven’t talked to Michael yet, this is all very fresh,” said Bell. “He had an outing last night where it didn’t go perfect and he allows a run. We made a decision before the game that the best thing for Michael was to give him the ball again if the situation presented itself. While we were in the game we knew that he was going to be one of the guys to get us through the game at that point. That was last night and today. Now we move forward and reevaluate and see what we can do to get him back to where he needs to be. We’ll be thinking about that, but at this point for our team and for Michael we need to do what’s best for him.”

Sonny Gray was the recipient of runs being charged to him after he left the game on Sunday. He was asked about what it’s like to watch the struggles of a teammate.

“In order for this team and us to go where we want to go, he’s going to be a big part of it,” said Gray. “I’ve been through struggles myself. It is difficult to watch because you know how talented he is and you know how much he cares. It’s just something he’s going to have to sit back, take a deep breathe, gather himself going forward and make an adjustment from there. It’s going to have to start between the ears. He’s got to figured out who he wants to be, which direction he wants to go. His talent is through the roof, there’s no question about that. But we’re going to need him moving forward. In order for us to get where we want to go, he’s going to be a big part of it. I have all the faith in Michael that he will get himself right. And once he gets a grasp of it, I think he’ll start trending in the right direction.”

This isn’t the first time in the career of Michael Lorenzen that he’s had some struggles on the mound, though it’s been a while since he has. As a rookie back in 2015 he was in the starting rotation and from July 20th through August 31st he made six starts and allowed 32 runs in 24.0 innings. That’s an ERA of 12.00 over a six week span. But he got things figured out and turned them around. He’s been there before where he’s probably had some questioning of his stuff and execution and he’s come out the other side. Hopefully he can draw on that once again and get things going in the right direction, and soon, because the season may be early, but it’s also not very long and the Reds need their bullpen to improve dramatically from where it’s been to start the season.

34 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    I’m hearing a little too much “Dusty” in these statements without as much arrogance. Maybe that’s just me.

    One bit of better news is that the Cardinals are in the soup deep. 55 games in 46 days? And that’s if everything gets back on track and stays there. Methinks something’s got to give. Hope it isn’t the season …

    • Willie

      Hey I miss Dusty!!! And I admit, I was a Fool Complaining about a guy who could lead the Reds to over 90 wins. Maybe trade Managers now. LOL!!

  2. VaRedsFan

    That’s pretty much just coach’s speak. “We need him to be good going forward”
    Name a player on this team that it doesn’t apply to.

    Why layout how many innings pitcher will pitch? How about you assess how each pitcher is pitching, and let them go longer than 1 inning if they are lights out, or yank them if they aren’t. Is it too hard to manage on the fly?

  3. Klugo

    Was Amir Garrett not available today?

    • Doug Gray

      He was. But it seems that once the game got away from Lorenzen they decided to not pitch him.

      • Doug Gray

        I guess the part I get is that Lorenzen was already warm. If you sit him down to get someone else up in the 6th, you can’t go to him at all that day. And Gray was facing the bottom of the lineup. You hoped he’d get through that. He didn’t.

  4. FreeHouse

    Lorenzen is a nice talent but he’s the most overrated player in the Reds roster.

  5. seadog

    People laugh at Yogi Berra quotes. But, he is right

    “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical”

    It is all mental for Lorenzen. 100%. His “stuff” plays anywhere. Hopefully Derek Johnson figures it out.

    • Hanawi

      Does his stuff play anywhere? He throws hard, but with very little movement. Any good major leaguer is going to punish a straight fastball. Maybe he needs to change his windup ala Cueto to add deception or something. He’s been mostly mediocre as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Roger Garrett

    I like Sonny’s comments much much better especially about it being between the ears and he has to decide who he wants to be.Bell gave the company line and it was confusing when he said we have to pay attention to who is pitching well then he talked about a player’s track record then he said if its a close game or we have the lead and have to get through the 6th to the 9th then Michael is going to get an opportunity to pitch in that game.Obviously paying attention to who is pitching well didn’t apply today and the last sentence at this point for our team and for Michael we need to do whats best for Michael.Shouldn’t that be we need to do whats best for the team?

    • Doug Gray

      Doing what’s best for Michael Lorenzen is what gets him right, which is the best thing for the team.

      • JB

        Doing what’s best for Michael is not putting him in games like today. The chance for failure was to high today especially with 2 on. They need to get his confidence back and doing that is bringing him into games where they are up a few runs or down 4 or 5 so he can find success. It all builds from there. I wish the young man the best and hope he can get right. He is a good person and is completely upset that he is not holding up his end.

      • Doug Gray

        That could certainly be true. I know that I would not have gone to him there.

        I think the issue came up because the plan seemed to be to have him face the bottom of the order to start the 6th, but then they decided to let Sonny give it a go, but with Lorenzen already loose they went with him instead of trying to rush someone else to get warmed up. It didn’t work out.

      • Roger Garrett

        I didn’t read the word right anywhere nor did I read best thing for the team.I did read best for Michael and that’s why I commented as I did.You know Bell and what he meant I just took it as him putting the need of a player over the needs of the team by continuing to put him out there in high leverage situations.

  7. Doug Gray

    I’m going to need you to cite your sources on this. Simply posting that stuff doesn’t mean he’s got an ego issue or that he’s arrogant.

    • Doug Gray

      Sometimes the simple answer is that they just aren’t getting it done and it’s nothing more than that. The constant look for something or someone to blame, to find an explanation in the weakness of ones character just gets to be a bit much to me.

      Why is someone yelling into their glove after failing? Because they are upset? Frustrated? Expect more and better from themselves?

    • Doug Gray


      No one is saying he’s great or to lay off of him.

      What I said was “maybe don’t just make stuff up about his ego or arrogance as the reason for his struggles”.

    • Doug Gray

      I think you need to pay attention to almost every single 20-something or 30-something because that’s literally all of them, not just athletes. Being all over social media is literally how “we” live. Times have changed with how we interact with others. That somehow posting on social media means one has an ego or is arrogant is an absolute stretch of the imagination looking for a solution to a problem.

    • liam patrick

      maybe consider giving him a start in the outfield for a game, just to try and get his confidence cooking again? obviously we have better hitters in the outfield but bell clearly isn’t married to the idea of starting the best 9 every time. i thought the DH would allow guys like Aquino and Shogo to get into almost every game, which hasnt happened. adding the DH kinda removed a whole dimension of Lorenzens game or at least his potential to be involved more and not be 100% reliant on his high pressure relief spots.

  8. Indy Red Man

    Lorenzen has always been more of a thrower then a pitcher. He’s always working on something new instead of sticking with a power sinker, but he’s been pretty good the last few years and was solid last year. Thats life. Most people go thru good/bad stretches in their life and so do athletes. Bell’s job is to get the best out of guys and give them the best chance to succeed. He’s got Mahle and Nate Jones. The Cards are in a big hole. Cain opted out for Milw and their lineup is terrible. Their starters aren’t even in the same planet as ours. No excuses….just go out and get after them!

    Maybe you start Lorenzen in LF and bat him 9th one of these nights….say go out and have fun! Let him feel good again! Its not like the lineup is mashing? Senzel and Senzeltakis are always out of the lineup.

    • Willie

      Maybe Lorenzen can catch on fire at the plate. The Reds could use that right now.

  9. jessecuster44

    Release Lorenzen. Plenty of other players out there who can do what he does, but better. He’s terrible. He’s not going to revert to last year’s form.

    Huge mistake if the Reds keep running him out there. He’s cost the team 3 wins already.

  10. Charlie Waffles

    Mikie Walker, Texas Ranger. We can only hope. 16 pitches, 4 strikes today from Lorenzen. Only 4 strikes. If he has options, send him to Prasco. He has a case of acute clinched sphincter.

    • JayTheRed

      I was too wondering about optioning him down to work on some stuff. Is that possible still or is he out of options. I feel like his confidence is off.. Either he is working too hard or has too much on his plate at least in his mind, hitting and pitching, even though I don’t think he has pinch hit this year yet… He needs to stop trying to throw the ball 101 or whatever it is he has it up to. His motion doesn’t seem as smooth either off the mound as last year either.
      Here is hoping he can make some adjustments soon if not he may need to go to down and work on his stuff.

    • TR

      The team doctor should be able to proscribe something for that condition.

  11. scotly50

    I feel Lorenzen is overthrowing, for his ability. Yes he is throwing 97, but he can’t locate his pitch. He can’t seem to find the lower or outside edges of the plate.

  12. Reddawg2012

    Especially in a season of 60 games. We don’t have time to let him work through it.

  13. TR

    Denying reality by using Lorenzen in close games this short season will not get the Reds to the playoffs. Pitching wise use him as a longy, or as a pinch hitter and base runner. Unnecessary losses have to be avoided or wait till next year.

  14. ClevelandRedsFan

    Bell’s comments make some sense for why they went with him. You can’t get him warmed up and sit him back down for an inning or 2.

    Had it worked according to plan, Sonny cruises through the sixth. Then you have the combo of Lorenzen and Garrett in the 7th/8th. Iggy in the 9th.

    Still, I would have warmed up Garrett when Sonny was getting in trouble and brought him in to pitch the 6th with the lefties and possible even the 7th with the odd-day today. In that scenario, Lorenzen doesn’t pitch at all, which would have been fine. Nate Jones/Iggy would have covered innings 8 and 9.

    Maybe the Reds would have pulled off the sweep.

    Also, who cares if the guy posts his workouts on Instagram? Dude is just trying to build his brand. Let him.

  15. Chris Holbert

    With the OF depth they have, even CF defense, not sure why Lorenzen would be worrying bout the offensive side of the ball. Playing him in Strat is not the same as real live games. He needs to concentrate on doing the job he is really being paid to do, the best he can. If it is broke, which it seems to be, figure it out, and do better.

  16. Ron j.

    we need the old Michael, not this one. I like the option idea, if he has any. Now it’s a cAse of Bell mismanaging the pitchers. he needs to think of team first, not showing he has confidence in Michael. what counts is does Michael have confidence in himself. Put him a less important role til him and coach figure it out. Bell still seems to use these pitchers like it’s a long season. And also, put Suarez in front of Nick, maybe he get some better pitches to hit.

  17. Rgr

    He needs to back off trying to hit 100 mph and go back to what got him here. You can’t blow pitches by today’s hitters, especially if they’re straight.