Fay: How can the Reds save their season?

CINCINNATI -- The Reds got a lot of good news on the injured pitchers front Friday.

Anthony DeSclafani has been cleared to throw after the right elbow strain. Homer Bailey is a few days away from getting in a camp game in Goodyear, Arizona. Brandon Finnegan is throwing well in flat-ground work.

That's all great, but none of them is going to help the Reds escape their current mess.

The season seems to be slipping away.

"We didn't come out pounding our chests, saying we're about to win the World Series," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "However, all of the expectations in this building were that we were a better team than anyone expected us to be."

For that to happen, the Reds cannot wait for the DL 3 to save the season.

"In order for us to reach our goals, we have to be better out of starting rotation," Price said. "We can't sit around and wait for Bailey and DeSclafani. That's unfair to the position players."

The offense produced five runs in each of the three games in Chicago, and the Reds were really never in any of them.

The Reds starters were dead last in the majors in ERA (5.57) and innings pitched (197) going into Friday game. That's just under five innings a game. It's wonder that the bullpen has held up as well as it has under that kind of workload.

Price has dealt with directing the rotation since he became manager.

"Actually, it isn't unique," Price said. "This is the third or fourth year we've been doing this, going back to '14 when (Mat) Latos was hurt. Bailey got hurt. We had to deal with some of those issues.

"That went into '15 and '16."

That was supposed to change this year because the young arms were suppose to turn around the rotation. Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan got hurt, but the Reds thought their depth was equipped to handle it.

Amir Garrett has stepped up for the most part, but the other two pitchers at the top of prospect list -- Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson -- haven't. Reed is in the minors; Stephenson has been up and down as a reliever. Rookie Davis, who started the season in the rotation, is back in the minors as well.

"We've run a lot of rookie arms through here," Price said. "Some have learned to swim. Some have sunk to the bottom. It's one way of finding out what we have in the system. Who's a big leaguer and who isn't, who needs more seasoning, who is better as a reliever than a starter. It's a challenge."

If things don't get better soon -- really soon -- you'd think the Reds would look at Tyler Mahle and/or Luis Castillo, the top prospects in Double-A.

That may have been what Price was talking about when he said: "I think we have enough talent to (turn the rotation around)."

The Reds have to hope so because it's clear it has to get better before Bailey, DeSclafani and Finnegan are ready, or those expectations won't be met.

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