Titanic Struggle Recap

Boulders on shoulders

Bruce Springsteen released the song Blinded by the Light in 1973. His first single, it drew on the colorful people he’d met growing up. The lyric “boulder on my shoulder” referenced the songwriter himself harboring a chip on his shoulder, something to prove.

While Blinded bombed for the 24-year-old Springsteen, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took the song to #1 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart – the only Springsteen song ever to reach that pinnacle. It hit the top of the chart on February 19, 1977, making it the #1 song in America the day Bronson Anthony Arroyo was born into this world.

The last time Arroyo stood on the pitching mound for the Reds in a major league game was September 28, 2013, when he surrendered six earned runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 4.2 innings. As that season reached a disappointing conclusion with Johnny Cueto dropping the ball in PNC Park, Reds fans were preoccupied with Dusty Baker’s firing, Bryan Price’s hiring, Brandon Phillips trading and Shin-Soo Choo re-signing.

When the front office didn’t extend a qualifying offer and allowed Arroyo to reach free agency, it wasn’t that controversial. Even though the tall right-hander hadn’t missed a start in eight seasons for the Reds, it was widely believed the Reds wouldn’t or shouldn’t match the contract Arroyo would command on the open market. Arroyo signed a 2-year, $23.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks in February 2014.

Arroyo made a handful of starts for the D-Backs, the final one on June 15, before succumbing to elbow pain and Tommy John surgery. Recovery and successful rehab from that injury and surgery is baseball’s highway jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive. Arroyo has since been with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals without throwing a pitch that counted. Arroyo has battled  torn UCLs and ripped rotator cuff tendons determined to get to where he was today.

Now 40, Arroyo’s arm proved healthy enough to navigate a few appearances in spring training. Today, we welcomed the image of him once again wearing a #61 Cincinnati Reds uniform in a major league game.

Carrying that boulder on his shoulder.

Cincinnati Reds 4  St. Louis Cardinals 1o || MLB || FG || Statcast

[Click team name for FanGraphs Team page with updated player stats; MLB = MLB box score; FG = FanGraphs play log; Statcast = Baseball Savant Statcast data]

Bronson Arroyo “ate” four innings today. Yes, he did. He gave up six hits, three walks and struck out two. His fastball topped out at 86 mph, but was usually 82-84. Arroyo looked exactly like he did in Goodyear. The Reds couldn’t have been surprised by the outcome. If they send Arroyo out for one more or ten more starts, that’s how he’s going to pitch.

Robert Stephenson replaced Arroyo in the fifth inning. Stephenson hadn’t pitched since the March 31 Futures game in Louisville. In 1.2 innings he walked six batters (one intentionally) and struck out four. Tucker Barnhart quit calling for fastballs. If you’re looking for something positive on which to hang your hat, it’s a nasty 82-mph breaking ball that Stephenson broke off to strike out Jed Gyorko on a full count. It’s tempting to say Stephenson should be starting in Louisville. On the other hand, will he learn any lessons there? Maybe performances like this at the major league level – starting or relieving – are the only way he’ll get the message.

Scott Schebler (.231/.375/.692) hit his second home run in as many days. Tucker Barnhart had a hit and a walk. Eugenio Suarez hit a home run in the 9th inning. Patrick Kivlehan, subbed in for Joey Votto, made three nice defensive plays at 1B.

Drew Storen walked two and gave up two hits in one inning. Reds pitchers walked 12 batters in 8 innings.

In the top of the fifth, the Reds sent Brandon Finnegan up as a pinch hitter. That’s the third time this year they’ve used a pitcher at the plate when they could have used a player who is paid to hit. Finnegan hit into a double play. The excuse, of course, is the short bench. In this game, I’m not sure what better opportunity Bryan Price was waiting to exploit. Sure, the other two times Rookie Davis doubled and Michael Lorenzen hit a homer, but it’s still a sign that something’s wrong.

Devin Mesoraco caught back-to-back minor league games for six innings. According to the radio broadcast, Bryan Price says the plan is for him to catch seven innings back-to-back, then nine innings back-to-back then he’ll be ready to join the Reds.

59 thoughts on “Boulders on shoulders

  1. I have always loved Arroyo. However, I cannot see any justification for giving starts to Arroyo and Feldman while Reed and Lorenzen languish in the bullpen. It makes absolutely no sense to me and I find this terribly frustrating.

      • I get keeping Iglesias in the bullpen but why Lorenzen? He hasn’t been injury prone and is nasty. Imagine a rotation of Garrett, Finnegan, Disco, Lorenzen and Reed?!

        • Pretty sure Lorenzen was shut down with an injury. Last Year? He also has no background as a starter, so even if he’s healthy it would take awhile for him to build the endurance and learn the pacing required. It still might be a very smart thing to do, but it’s not as simple as just giving him a turn in the rotation.

          • Most of Lorenzen’s professional experience had been as a starter up until last year. He made 21 starts in MLB in 2015 and struggled. In the minors in 2014 and 6 appearances in 2015 he made all his appearances as a starter, 30 in all. He had one complete game shutout included in that. I mentioned he struggled as a starter in MLB in 2015 but he is really a different pitcher now than he was then. He has added a sinker and has improved command of all his pitches. There may be questions about his elbow but he has experience and MiLB success starting. I’m pretty sure he has the pitches and experience to do it. He would need to be stretched back out as a starter however.

    • In away I agree, but there is no way anyone besides Finnegan is going to be able start the entire season. Look at the way Rookie Davis pitched, due you think Ramano or anyone else at AAA would do better than Feldman and Arroyo. I guess you can argue Reed and Stephenson should start, but they look awful and again could not pitch the entire season. I feel guys can devlop better at AAA and even the bullpen. I think you let Arroyo and Feldman tough it out for 2 months, see who has got the rhythm and see what who can handle starting.

    • The only way I side with your argument if Lorenzen and Iglesias start, but then who is in the bullpen and then they cannot make it an entire season.

      • I understand your point, a good bullpen is important. But let’s consider Lorenzen. It appears that his “role” is going to be to pitch the seventh and/or eighth inning and maybe close occasionally. From what I have read, Lorenzen has outstanding potential, perhaps even to be a top of the rotation starter. A top of the rotation starter is a far more rare and valuable commodity than a good seventh or eighth inning guy. I do not claim with certainty Lorenzen would be a top of the rotation starter, but in terms of expected value it is certainly worth exploring.

    • Lorenzen nearly had TJ surgery last year. There’s not many here that are clamoring for Iglesias to be starting, due to his frail arm. Why is Lorenzen that much different? If the Reds feel that Iglesias and Lorenzen are better protected medically by pitching in the BP, why do “we” so question that decision with Lorenzen?

      • Well are Bailey and Disco that much different? Should they now go to the bullpen? I may have missed it, but I do not recall the Reds saying they are protecting Lorenzen medically by putting him in the bullpen. I thought at one point this spring Price mentioned that he was open to Lorenzen starting.

        • The Enquirer reported last year that the Reds had no medical concerns about Lorenzen starting. Whatever reason they have for not giving him that opportunity, it doesn’t appear to be health.

    • I am holding out hope. He gets Wacha out, it might change the perception of the entire start. Kivlehan make the catch in the first its not so bad at all. Lots of ifs, but was there not a saying Good Bronson/Bad Bronson when he was here?

    • He’ll be much better next time, Chad. Wait and see. Being a baseball fan means never having to say I’m sorry.

  2. Sending Feldman out as the Opening Day SP instead of Finnegan& giving Arroyo a start at all are 2 talking points in the eventual discussion regarding how much Bryan Price & Dick Williams actually know about pitching.

    • Whoa cowboy – you have to remember we are rebuilding – meaning, the Reds as a team are not there yet and neither are these young pitchers. Finnegan – yes, he deserved to start opening day and in hindsight would have been awesome.
      However, the Reds just don’t have the depth of pitching and you can’t just throw every rookie into the fire.
      Price is a fine pitching coach and there’s plenty of success at the MLB level to prove it. But we have to give these young arms time to mature. Nobody feels like we have a chance when we start “washed-up guys”, but as Steve says, they’re in there to chew up some innings while the young guys watch, learn and get better!

      • I am painfully aware we are in a rebuild. But it’s time to fish or cut bait. If an innings eater was that important, the Reds had one in Straily. They traded him (& I agree with the trade) but at that point Feldman & Arroyo are poor options especially with Travis Wood still available. If eating innings is of more importance than results, Adleman started 13 games last season & went 5 innings every time. He also allowed less than 5 runs in all of those starts. He could be starting (& probably getting shelled) just as well as Feldman & Arroyo for less money.I’d hand the ball to Stephenson with the score 0-0 & to Arroyo with the score 1-6. Price does it the other way around.

  3. Love the Springsteen references. I find it hard to believe he didn’t have more songs to reach number 1. But you’re right.

  4. What a train wreck today. Was anybody really expecting a different outcome? VEGASTYPO correctly called it in the first comment on the game thread about the getaway day lineup.

  5. Stephenson’s curve was as tantalizing as his fastball was frustrating. He was consistently at 95/96 on the gun. With that breaking ball, he’s got at least 2-3 MPH he can afford to take off the fastball if that’s what it takes for him to consistently locate it where it needs to be. He needs to be pitching on a regular rotation that’s not just being the mop up man for Arroyo or Feldman. I tend to go along with the thought that he is not going to learn what he needs to learn at AAA.

    • When I got home this afternoon and logged into mlb.com Molina was just coming to the plate in the sixth. Stephenson absolutely destroyed Molina and Grichuk on wicked breaking pitches. If he could combine that breaking pitch with a reasonably well located fastball he would be an excellent starting pitcher.

  6. I agree with the fact that Reed should be in the rotation above Arroyo 100% but to say that is what you are going to get out of Arroyo each start is a rush to conclusions. Hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in 2 years and his command being shaky is what led to those two homers (each homer was an inside breaking ball that was supossed to be on the outside corner, more walks than he ever normally had which is where 2 or 3 of those runs came from) and command being shaky for a guy who had as little of innings in spring training against big league hitter as he did, makes sense. But reed should be staring in his place and that might be what we get from Arroyo everyday. What doesn’t make sense to me is why he’s starting. If you want a more established guy on the pitching staff to eat innings, why does he have to start? Why not have Reed start and have Arroyo as long man to “EAT INNINGS” when needed?

    • Arroyo could have easily been out of that 4th inning with no runs scored.

      Duvall has regularly made catches which appeared a lot more difficult than the one he did not make on the double in that inning. It looked like he was fighting the sun and the corner including the possibly swirling winds created by the corner.

      Still it came down to retiring the light hitting Cardinal pitcher Wacha to get out of the inning with no runs across; and, Arroyo could not do that because he lacked enough of a fastball to throw one by Wacha like Stephenson did an inning later to end the inning. That’s my take away on Arroyo’s day and current game.

      I agree, if the Reds feel like Arroyo has a role to play, presumably in helping the young guys along, then he should be the long man and not taking opportunity from the younger guys. However, having an additional bat off the bench might serve the team better.

  7. To be fair, except maybe that first year when Arroyo had his fastball, he would have few starts like today every year. I seem to recall Arroyo might have some odd splits where he doesn’t pitch well during the day (over his career). Hopefully the next time the pitches bobs and weaves a bit better, as you got to figure he’s going to get a few starts. I really don’t him to come this far back and just get totally shelled every game, hopefully it works at least a couple times like it did for Rijo when he pushed back to the bigs and not all bad.

  8. I think Arroyo gets a few more starts, and then is released. I love the guy, but this is really about what was to be expected. His arm strength is just not quite there, and likely never will be. I really wanted to see just a little magic and have him pitch a few good games, but this isn’t a fairy tale world.
    If Sal Romano pitches well in AAA, I see him up to replace Bronson at that point.
    Reed and Stephenson are in the BP for a reason, which is they can’t seem to throw strikes and locate the ball in the zone consistently. When they have shown that they have learned that lesson (and I hope it is soon), then one or both get to start games.

    I think there will be a revolving door with some guys at AAA and the Majors, with Astin, Rookie Davis and a few others on the merry-go-round (unless Davis really has a few impressive starts).

    I think Bronson either gets released in a few weeks, or they put him in the BP. Maybe they give the ball to Reed then. Who knows?
    Bronson’s next start will be against the Brewers, and will likely be worse than this one.

  9. Post Game interview with Brian Price. Price talked as if Arroyo was in it for the long haul and will be in the rotation all season – LOL.

    I like Arroyo love what we did when he was a decent starter; however when mesoraco gets added to the 25 man roster – it has to be Arroyo that is cut in my opinion.

    • When Mesoraco comes back, I think the front office will attempt to swing a deal with Minnesota to allow them to keep Turner. That’s the only way they can keep him in the organization without offering him back to the Twins. With Devin’s health anything but sure, they need quality catching help at the top minor league levels, which they don’t have currently. With a deal, Turner could go to Louisville and be ready to come back up in case of injury to either Meso or Barnhart.

      • Since Turner is already in Rule 5 status, I am not certain the Reds and Twins can simply do a direct deal for him without the Reds first passing him through waivers which could be an issue. I’ve been trying to nail this down; but so far, I don’t feel like I have found a definitive answer.

        However, from what I have found, it sounds like Turner is a Rule 5 player for the entire year unless he clears waivers and is offered back to his original team (Twins). At that point the Reds and Twins could agree to a deal whereby technically the Twins would decline to take him back (in return for whatever player(s) the Reds sent them). At this point, Turner would no longer be a Rule 5 player and could be optioned.

        • No reason not to keep turner as is. The bench players are short anyway. They will have Mesoraco as a DH and part time catcher and no other RH PH. Heck we have not used the long bullpen much byway.

        • I don’t think the Reds need to pass him through waivers to offer him back to the Twins. I believe they need to offer him back, with the Twins excepting him back. At which point the Twins and Reds can work out a trade. All of this can be done without Turner ever having to pack his bags. That’s my understanding at least. I could be wrong. Tom or Doug may know better.

          • The most definitive statement I could find said a rule 5 player had to be passed thru waivers prior to him being offered back to original team. That’s what I based my statement on.
            I agree it is definitely a murky area and wish there was a site to get better info about these transaction related issues.

          • The Reds would waive Turner and the teams behind them in the selection order would have the option of claiming Turner as a rule 5 selection, which means the new team would have to keep him on the 25-man roster the entire year or got through the same process. If no team claims him, he would be offered back to the Twins for $25,000.

  10. I knew Steve was going to be the writer on Bronson’s return. It was destiny like all of our faults to be found in the stars. I don’t think that there is a single person surprised by the bombing of Arroyo or of Stevenson. One is a has been and the other is a never will be. We can both testify and agree that Bronson Arroyo was a fun player to watch….. 8 years ago. Now we can also enjoy him as he helps ensure that we have a top draft pick for 2018.

    Stevenson is very close to being labeled a bust. I simply think that he overthrows but if he doesn’t his stuff is not good enough to get outs. Yes, he has high MPH on that arm but he has no clue as to where the ball will go. Same problem he demonstrated at every level of professional ball.

    • As sure as the Reds give up prematurely on Stephenson, he will land somewhere else and end up reaching a level at least in the same area code as his original projected level. This said, it could well turn out that only the jolt of being dumped will provide the impetus to bring him around. He would not be the first or likely the last.

      • Keep sending him out

        He is not on any time constraint

        If you do not pitch him in the show, option him

        That stuff, controlled….. Can you say Arrietta?

  11. I agree with Chad’s sentiments about Arroyo. I’d love him to be successful. But I wonder whether he is best served as a starter. He might be better as the long guy out of the pen. If he can’t cut it he should be encouraged to retire with dignity. It’s not good for the Reds or his legacy if he gets shelled every outing. Let the kids pitch.

  12. No reason in the world for Cody Reed to be wasting away in the bullpen, while his rotation spot is being taken by a guy who is lucky to hit 86 on the gun.

    It’s time for Bronson to hang ’em up.

    • I think it has been documented there is plenty of reason, he threw 120 innings total last year, 145 the year before that, he starts at the beginning of this season, he goes to the bullpen in August. I would prefer he figure his stuff out in the bullpen now and finish strong in September if he is worth anything. They got about 5 guys in this boat, someones gonna have to eat some innings.

      • And that is true of Garrett and Rookie too. We need innings eaters so we don’t destroy the young arms. Who cares if they suck really.

    • The reds had a plan all along to get Arroyo his last few starts in the majors. He didn’t “earn” a spot by his performance in ST.. He only pitched in big league games past 2 innings once. Whether it’s marketing or service time innings to fill for a few weeks….Arroyo was the one veteran who everyone would go along with .

      The Reds are in the middle of 12 straight games…So perhaps he will get 2 more starts…Eat 9 more innings …loseb2 more games….Then retire a Red….
      Price seems very committed to Reed who will step in. But…We are 1-2 more bad outings from Stephenson away from seeing the return of Tim Adleman. Rookie needs a good start as well.

    • Bronson was effective in the past with an 86-88 mph fastball. Location, location, location. It’s a very different speed from his breaking stuff. There are 3 very young pitchers in the rotation and the other young guys really aren’t ready yet. We know with the benefit of hindsight that Feldman pitched very well in his second start,so conclusions are premature at this point.

  13. Bronson and Feldman taking starts away from anybody is insane.Disco/Finnegan both learned to pitch at the big league level so why not Reed and Stephensen.Let them start and if they can’t get it done at least you know it.Who would you rather see get 20 -25 starts?The young guys with great stuff or the old guys that are going to go 4 or 5 innings and give up 4 or 5 runs.The reality is we have to find out what we have going forward.Let the young guys pitch.

  14. The sole purpose for having Arroyo start games is to demonstrate to the young pitchers how to absorb a beating without letting it get you down.

    • May have some truth to that.

      On side note: I usually always have a negative Votto comment, but love the way he is being aggressive early in the count on ALL strikes. Usually he is aggressive on the middle-to-out strike and lets the inside go by early in the at-bat. But he has been after that inside strike early, on both off-speed and fastballs inside. Love his approach.

    • REDSFAN06: A very astute comment. Makes no sense to me to start Arroyo. If he’s going to be on the roster, he should be in the bullpen.

  15. I didn’t think Bronson pitched all that bad considering his long road back and limited ST innings. Molina’s bloop double just landed fair in the first but the killer was Wacha’s routine single. I’ll give Arroyo a couple more starts before complaining. I don’t think Stephenson or Reed are ML ready. Way too walks. It’s only April fellas! Sit back and watch how it all plays out.

  16. 1) We lost fair and square. Arroyo and Stephenson had some issues. That said, we weren’t playing with the same strike zone as St. Louis. It’s a different game if Adams is called out like he should have been, Kievlehan doesn’t have the bat taken out of his hand with Cozart in scoring position down 2-1, etc. It was glaring.

    2) I’m worried that their focus for Mesoraco’s rehab is only on his ability to catch multiple days in a row. If he’s doing that and hitting, great. If he’s still working on his timing, keep him down the full 20 days and let him shake off the rust in the minors.

    3) The explanation for Reed (basically, “he was going to start in Pittsburgh, but we want him to have a great outing first so his confidence is improved”) makes no sense. He fought through his problems, pitched two scoreless innings, got his first ever major league win….is he likely to be more confident after that, or if he rots on the bench for a few days, gets into a game at some point eventually after getting out of his starter’s routine, and then gets beaten up? Rinse/repeat a few times. He should pitch. Let Feldman or Arroyo wait around as the long man and get out of his routine, not Reed. The same, to a lesser extent, for Stephenson.

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