We knew that Sonny Gray was coming back this week, but prior to the game on Wednesday manager David Bell announced exactly when that was going to happen. Saturday afternoon against Cleveland will see the return of Gray, who has been rehabbing his way back from back spasms he experience in spring training. He made a start at the Reds alternate site in Louisville on April 4th, and then he threw a simulated game in Arizona at Chase Field while the Reds were in town to play the Diamondbacks.

One thing that was uncertain with the return of Sonny Gray was how things would play out with the rotation, and potentially with the bullpen. Friday night will see Jeff Hoffman start, and Sunday will have lefty Wade Miley on the mound. That means that José De León is out of the rotation. For now, according to Bell, he will pitch out of the bullpen and he could potentially be available today if needed.

“We’re excited to add him to the bullpen,” said Bell. “I just spoke with him – he may even have some availability today. Today was his side day. Like to probably stay away from him, but you never know. I think it could be an exciting opportunity for him. I think he has a real chance to help us out of the bullpen. He could always go right back into the rotation if needed. He’s very built up and that’s not going to go away any time in the next few weeks.”

Cincinnati won’t need to activate Gray until Saturday, so they do not need to make a decision on which reliever will be sent out (either to Louisville to join the alternate site, or designate one of them for assignment). Only Cionel Pérez and José De León have options among the pitchers currently in the bullpen.

So far this season it’s been a mixed bag of results for José De León. On one hand he’s allowed eight earned runs and four home runs in 9.1 innings. There’s nothing at all good in those numbers. He’s also walked five batters, and you most certainly would like to see that number improve moving forward. But the right-hander has also struck out 18 of the 45 hitters he’s faced this season. Small sample size alert here, but that’s a 40% strikeout rate which would put him in the company of the most elite relievers in baseball.

It will be interesting come Saturday to see if the team chooses to ride with José De León in the bullpen with the hopes that in shorter stints that he can perform at a higher level, and choose to send someone else out, or if the team will choose to send him to the alternate site as one of the pitchers who does have options, and see if his development there could be more beneficial down the line.

Shogo Akiyama update

Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama has been spending his time in Louisville at the alternate site as he rehabs his way back from a hamstring injury that he suffered in spring training. He hasn’t yet played in any games, but that is coming soon as his progression has been going well.

“He’s pretty much doing everything,” said Reds manager David Bell on Wednesday afternoon. “We’re pushing him a little bit harder now. He’s going to start playing in games, I believe, in the next 7-10 days. He’s getting live at-bats. He’s doing everything but getting game action. We’re still on track for the first week of May if everything continues to go well to rejoin us sometime in early May. There’s a really well thought out progression. He’s not running at 100% speed yet, intentionally. But he’s getting there.”

In the absence of Akiyama the Reds outfield has been getting plenty of production from Tyler Naquin. Through his first nine games of the season he’s hit .290/.389/.806 for the Reds and he’s leading the National League in home runs and RBI despite not being an everyday player for Cincinnati.

8 Responses

  1. Roger Garrett

    Another guy that could go multiple innings and be effective.Makes out staff better all the way around with Sonny back as well.The Antone decision will be interesting.I prefer he starts but it could be better if he can go multiple innings every 3 days.Good problem to have for sure.

  2. KG

    Our rotation just got a lot stronger and our bullpen just got a little stronger. It’s a win-win!

  3. MBS

    Castillo liked to pitch to Casali last season, instead of Barnhart. Castillo’s bad starts this year have been with Barnhart, and his good start was with Stephenson. I know Castillo had command issues, but maybe he likes throwing to larger catchers? I’m guessing the pitch selection is coming from the bench, so I don’t think it would be that. Just a thought

  4. TheCoastMan

    I agree the rotation just got stronger, but De Leon’s 7.71 ERA is going to fit right in with one of the majors worst bullpens at a 4.81 ERA. If we had even a middling BP we would probably be 10-1 or 9-2.

    Speaking of BP arms, I see that we just claimed Phillip Diehl off waivers from the Rockies. This is cast off from Colorado who have the worst BP ERA in the National League at 5.61. Diehl has a 6.75 ERA in AAA and has been tagged for 13 runs in 13 innings in the bigs. Oh yeah, he’ll fit right in behind De Leon.

  5. Bubba Woo

    I like keeping Antone in the BP at least until Lorenzen is back in June. Mahle, Hoffman, and Miley aren’t going to get out of the 6th most of the time, so having someone who can go 2-3 innings to bridge to Sims/Garrett will help. I still think being cheap and not keeping Descalfani for what he commanded, 1yr/6mil, was a crucial mistake

    • Gene Kehoe

      DeSclafani? We don’t need more starters. Not keeping Archie Bradley was the mistake. And getting nothing for Raisel. Our bullpen is a mess behind Sims, AG, and Antone. When Antone can’t pitch we got nothin’ for the 6th-8th.

  6. SteveO

    Perez to alternate site makes most sense. Both he and Bedrosian walk too many batters that lead to extended innings. If Bedrosian keeps that up, off to waivers he goes and Warren or the newly acquired Diehl should be called up.

  7. RedBaron

    Our BP is a hot mess after Antone, Sims and AG. De Leon will fit right in there. That’s what happens when the majority of your pen is made up castoffs and underperformers