The Cincinnati Reds have made a cornucopia of roster moves this afternoon as they head west to open up a road trip against the St. Louis Cardinals. The team optioned infielder Max Schrock and left-handed reliever Cionel Pérez to the alternate training site (Schrock) and the taxi squad (Pérez). They’ve called up right-handed relievers Ryan Hendrix and Heath Hembree to replace them on the roster.

This is the first time that Ryan Hendrix has been called up to the Major Leagues. When he enters a game he will be making his big league debut. He was selected in the 5th round out of Texas A&M back in 2016 and has dominated in the minors for the Reds since then. He’s posted a career ERA of 2.55 in the minors that spans 132 games and 172.2 innings. In that stretch he’s allowed just eight home runs, walked 76 batters, and he’s struck out 234.

Hendrix has premium stuff. His fastball works in the mid-90’s and touches higher. His breaking ball is a plus offering. The thing to watch will be his control. It has been inconsistent at times in his career. When he’s on top of his game, he’s a tough match up. But every so often he will have some battles with the strikezone.

Heath Hembree is also getting the call up. He was not on the 40-man roster, but the team had a spot open after designating Cam Bedrosian for assignment, so there’s no need to make a corresponding 40-man move. From 2013-2020, Hembree pitched in the big leagues and posted an ERA of 3.90 across 274.2 innings with the Giants, Red Sox, and Phillies. In 2020 he struggled, giving up 19 earned runs in 19.0 innings thanks to nine home runs allowed. His fastball works in the mid-90’s and he’ll mix in a slider and a curveball. All of his pitches fall into high spin rate category, just in case you were wondering if he’d fit into Spincinnati.

Max Schrock had only been with the team for the last six days. He played in five games in the last week, going 1-9 with five strikeouts in that span. After spending last season in the Cardinals organization he won’t get a chance, at least right now, to return to St. Louis and put it to his former organization.

Cionel Pérez made the team out of spring training. Things haven’t gone the left-handed relievers way so far this year, though. He’s struggled to throw strikes with any consistency, walking eight batters in 8.1 innings to go along with eight strikeouts. That’s helped push his ERA to 8.31 on the season for a bullpen that is having serious problems so far in 2021.

28 Responses

  1. ClevelandRedsFan

    The Reds completely botched the bullpen in the offseason. But this move is coming faster now than I believe it would have in the Jocketty/Baker days.

    Remember, good vibes only!

  2. Bred

    After reading Doug’s posts at RML on Hendrix, it’s good to see him get a shot. I’ve often wondered why he frequently got passed over. Hembree’s results last year were not good, but many players did not do well last year. Let’s hope they help out and can get some outs. Unfortunately, they are in this pitching quandary because they refused to spend money on relief pitching and a reliable starter in the off season. After the hot start and more fans allowed in GABP, I bet they regret not spending some cash.

  3. jim walker

    In Thursday’s debacle, Reds pitching waked 8 batters and 5 of them scored. The DBacks walked 4 and none of them scored. Think that might have been the difference in the game?

    Go back another day to Wednesday and it was more of the same for the Reds. They walked 2 guys then gave up a 3 run jack in the 8th inning which pushed the game to extra innings where runs were scored by a walked batter and a batter HBP.

    What the Reds need to do now is simplify the bullpen. Find a couple of guys who can spot a plus fastball for strikes. Drop the cuteness of trying work counts. As the Ol’ Lefthander liked to say, here’s my best. If you can hit it up the gap or out of the park, so be it. As we saw on Thursday when the Reds hit a bunch of HRs but did not get free passes in front of them, the law of averages favors the pitcher when he doesn’t give up walks.

    Hendrix is no spring chicken (aged 26+) but at least he is a new arm and not just another recycled guy being thrown into the lurch. Let’s hope he can fit the bill at least in the short term.

    • paul olbert

      totally agree — even Mahle tries to get cute –you have a 95 MPH fastball –go after ’em!

    • Roger Garrett

      Guys they started with had power arms and even Doolittle hit 95 at times.I like the word simplify and just throw strikes and its really the truth.Getting behind in the count negates the plus fastball when everybody knows its coming.

  4. Daytonnati

    Hembree’s stats indicate that he will fit right in. 🙂

    From Doug’s profile of Hendrix, it is surprising he has not been given a look before now?

    • jim walker

      Big Sal had a successful inning yesterday and is probably promoted up the food chain which opened a spot for Hembree.

      • BlameItOnTheGenny

        Excellent news. Deck chairs officially rearranged.

        I was thinking about this earlier… here my hot take: I don’t blame David Bell for the failure of the bullpen. These guys can’t pitch. The front office – at the direction of ownership – sold off everyone who isn’t bolted down in the ‘pen this offseason and left us with young non-prospects and retreads. Bell is just using the dudes he has. Life isn’t handing us lemons here – it’s handing us an old show and a wadded up plastic bag. The lemonade you make from that isn’t gonna taste real good – so that’s that. For the record, I think there’s plenty of reason to fire David Bell – not the least of which is that he’s a mediocre-at-best in-game manager who seems to never have our best team on the field during the late, high-leverage innings… but don’t blame him for the bullpen. That’s on Bob.

      • jim walker

        Agree totally on the bullpen situation not being on Bell.

        I don’t have a strong opinion about him otherwise. I do not like the tinkering; but, it seems to be the current wave. To this end, I strongly support the universal DH, 3 batter minimum for pitchers and limiting the number of pitchers on the roster because I feel all of these measures will limit the ability of managers to tinker.

      • TR

        The choice of who to use in relief, in-game, is on Bell. I hope his contract is not renewed but as a life-fan of the Reds I’m sure it will be.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    Fulmer could be the next one to leave the roster if he does not get better. In that case, who is in the alternate site available to replace him? Could be Gutierrez? or give a chance to Lyon Richardson?

    • DaveCT

      Gutierrez is still suspended I believe. Richardson hasn’t pitched above Lo-A. Santillan would be available but also struggles with control. I wouldn’t expect much more from AAA or AA until midseason and these guys have played a bunch of games. The only solace is most teams also are in the same boat, as far as help on the way from the farm.

    • DaveCT

      Riley O’Brian, who came over from the Rays for Cody Reed, may be a bit of a sleeper but he was ranked fairly well in the Rays’ system, one of the best in the ML’s.

    • greenmtred

      The choice of whom to use in–game is on Bell, of course. But he can only choose from among the pitchers he has, and the very few who have been effective can’t pitch every day.

  6. Redsfan4life

    Hopefully Hendrix can throw strikes.

  7. Matt

    At this point, I’d take a David Weathers-esque bullpen guy… remember how he would always let guys on, and then somehow usually get out of it? Just stop getting absolutely shell shocked out there, please. The starters don’t deserve that let down.

    • Matt WI

      Ooops. Didn’t type my usual screen name. Sorry about that, Doug.

    • jim walker

      Stormy understood that at some point, a pitcher had to grit his teeth and throw his best strike. Sometimes he wins; sometimes he loses.

  8. Old-school

    Starters are not going to pitch more than 6 innings for awhile because of the 2020 truncated season of 60 games. Tyler Mahle threw ~60 innings last year. He’s already thrown about a third of that by middlish April.

    The starts by Miley in SF and Mahle on wednesday are the blue print on how to finish strong starts with a lead. Ride your bell cow and then find another. Castillo will come around when it warms up.

    Antone piggybacked 3 2/3 innings with Miley for the 3-0 win in SF. He was right there Wednesday to put Mahle and the Reds on his back to finish up 3-0 again against the Dbacks until Bell pulled him.

    Bell and DJ need to pivot now on bullpen utilization and roles innings load. DJ is experiencing his first major crisis as a pitching coach. Its not all on Bell.

    Cards and Dodgers up next. Why baseball and 162 is the best regular season sport to identify a champion. No flukes.

    Go reds

    • Roger Garrett

      I agree.Got to give them an extra inning if they are getting the job done.No use to do the one inning per reliever either cause you will find a guy that doesn’t have it on that day.Pitchers need to make adjustments and so does Bell as to how and when and for how long does he go with a pitcher.Your example Old-school is exactly on point.If a guy and I mean any guy has it that day ride him.Its a different year and the pen may have to go 3 or 4 every game.We don’t have a guy at the end with any experience at closing anyway so lets get the feel for the game and not just go by the book all the time.Our goal has to be to win the game at hand.

      • DaveCT

        Agreed. I’d add that there is also some depth for starters, even if they are just several number five starters (DeLeon, Gutierrez, Santillan, even Lodolo later this season). Plus, Antone can transition to starter pretty easily, I’d suspect. So, if a guy gets tired earlier in the season, there are reinforcements available.

      • TR

        Winning each game, period, is the goal. Encouraging the struggling and giving subs playing time has to be secondary.

      • Doc

        They are not, as often as not, getting the job done, including Gray tonight.

  9. SultanofSwaff

    The first 1/3 of the season is about sorting out who fits into what roles. To that end, we have the back end of Sims and Antone settled and are still 9-9. That, combined with longer stints from the starters (presuming Bell will allow it, big IF) will shrink some of those middle innings. Moustakas and Akiyama will also bolster the offense which will hopefully make for fewer close/late situations.

    So yeah, I’m still optimistic!

    • DaveCT

      And, if Lorenzen comes back healthy, it will be like picking up a power arm at the trade deadline. However, given the nature of shoulder injuries, I suspect that’s a big if.

      • jim walker

        Yeah, once I heard about the PRP injection for Lorenzen, it hit me that he may have thrown his last competitive pitch for the Reds.

        Maybe we see him somewhere trying to be late inning reliever again.

        However, I would not be surprised if he is in an MLB camp next spring on a minor league deal chasing his dream of being a position player. If he can’t throw well enough to play OF, he would still have a shot as a DH/ bench guy who could sub at 1B.

      • JB

        Even if Lorenzen comes back and pitches , I cannot see him being a starter with that shoulder. Bell said he would be a starter. There is no way.

  10. Tim

    How far is Hunter Greene from being able to throwing a dozen or so 100 mph plus fastballs and a handful of offspeed pitches two or three times a week? I have visions of the movie, The Rookie. “Those pitches you threw warming up… just give me three of those.”