Bailey Goes Back to DL

After a brief return from the DL Homer Bailey went back after two starts. While his immediate future is uncertain Cincinnati will be looking for answers to replace him in the rotation. Michael Lorenzen will get first crack at the job after debuting in AAA in just his second professional season.

Cincinnati’s postseason hopes took a hit this week when Homer Bailey when on the disabled list with a sprained elbow in his pitching arm. Comments from manager Bryan Price indicate that options are being mulled for his immediate future and unfortunately one of them may be Tommy John surgery. Should that happen it means the soon-to-be 29 year old right-hander will be out of action for approximately one year.

Bailey started this season on the DL after recuperating from on offseason surgery on his forearm which robbed the final month of his 2014 season. He made it back in April for a couple of starts, but though his next one is uncertain it isn’t likely going to happen any time soon. It’s quite a blow for the Cincinnati rotation that lost two starters from budget-influenced offseason trades. They’ve gotten some good efforts from trade return Anthony DeSclafani and journeyman Jason Marquis allowed only two runs in eight innings Monday. The latter was non-roster invite during spring training and perhaps at one time considered a placeholder until Bailey was ready. He’s survived in the rotation thus far and now it appears that the Reds will be asking for more innings from him than originally anticipated.

Strategically this particular injury will hit the Reds hard. They’ve ridden their rotation hard the past few seasons and fortunately they’ve done a great job answering the call. Now this year deficiencies in their bullpen has given a need to rely on the rebuilt starting corps more than ever. Also going with Bailey to the dl is $10 million of the Cincinnati payroll this season and he’s owed another $81 million over the next four years. The lucrative extension he signed before last season, along with others inked a couple of years early, no doubt influenced the need for the Reds to shop the two his starters over the offseason and their inability thus far to extend ace Johnny Cueto after this season.

Bailey’s absence gives a brief visit to the parent team for reliever Carlos Contreras who exceeded his rookie status while making 17 MLB appearances last season. At Louisville this year he’s made six appearances and allowed only one run. It’s expected that he will be around to provide an extra option in the bullpen until Bailey’s spot in the rotation comes around again. Actually, his strong start with the Bats this might normally get him consideration for more than a cup of coffee in favor of another reliever, but the Reds gave a couple of active roster spots to some struggling veterans thus committing salary which would be eaten if they are removed.

That turn in the rotation will come early. Mike Leake’s next start has been pushed back one day to Thursday and Michael Lorenzen will be called up to make his major league debut. It’s been a fast rise through the system for Lorenzen who came into the organization from Cincinnati’s competitive balance pick which was the 38th overall in the 2013 draft. He started out this year with two strong outings at Louisville before getting roughed up last Friday at Columbus.

What makes his fast arrival more improbable is that he wasn’t even a starting pitcher before last season. Actually, he was primarily an outfielder during his collegiate career at Cal St. Fullerton with limited time on the mound closing. After he signed Cincinnati shuffled him around for a handful of appearances for four different affiliates during the short season before sending him to the Arizona Fall League. Last year he put up a splendid 3.13 ERA while pitching 120 innings at AA Pensacola.

Lorenzen did stay with the team until late in spring training before he was sent to Louisville. While in the Cactus League he threw fifteen innings and allowed three runs. He’ll have to improve his command from that which gave up ten walks, but since he’s issued only four free passes while striking out twelve in nineteen International League innings. His promotion will require a spot on the 40-man roster and Cincinnati has already had a couple of DFA’d players fail to clear waivers this season. Catcher Kyle Skipworth might be a candidate because the only reason he’s on the 40-man is because Tucker Barnhart had not been down to the minors long enough for a recall when the team needed an extra catcher.

Raisel Iglesias is on the 40-man and will probably be the next option if the 23 year-old Lorenzen is overwhelmed. When making the decision who to call Cincinnati likely considered that the Cuban would have to go on only four days rest if he took the bump on Thursday. Dylan Axelrod is still with the Bats and he had a couple of nice starts with the Reds last August. David Holmberg got the call last year, but he’s been hit hard in four starts this season. 23 year-old Jon Moscot has been sharp in his two starts this season and could come from off the radar to an MLB debut if the other candidates fail to pan out.

But for right now the job is Lorenzen’s. His professional career is still young, but it’s also been eventful, going from a college outfielder in 2013 to starting on the mound in an MLB game less than two years later. He’s got a big league heater in the mid-90’s and it appears he’s made a smooth transition starting. He also gets good movement on a two-seamer , is working on a curve, and his most effective pitch is his slider. He’s got the repertoire, but he’s in the big leagues now and will have to throw it over the plate. If successful he could earn a lengthy stay with the Reds.

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