Bronson Arroyo likely to start Saturday as Reds' pitching roles continue to shape up

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are listing TBA, as in to be announced, for Saturday’s starter in St. Louis.

But Bronson Arroyo will make that start, even though it’s not officially official.

“Until we make that announcement, it’s going to be TBA,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He hasn’t done anything that would deter us from thinking he’d make that start.”

Arroyo pitched Sunday against minor leaguers in a simulated game in Goodyear, Arizona.

“It went really well,” Price said. “We got up and down six times, threw 90 pitches. Devin (Mesoraco) caught him. Reports on everything he did were positive. We’re real happy how that worked out.”

Arroyo is not on the Opening Day roster, so he is not allowed to be in the clubhouse or work out with the team.

The 40-year-old right-hander gives the young rotation some stability.

“That’s the value of having a veteran pitcher,” Price said, “any veteran pitcher, but particularly someone of his background. It’s the reliability factor and the influence he has on those around him. We’ve got some question marks. I’m confident in the young guys. But it’s good to have a mentor.”

Arroyo hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2014. He’s had Tommy John and shoulder surgery in the interim.

“To this point, he’s had zero issues with his arm,” Price said. “He’s thrown every bullpen and he’s felt great. But who knows? He’s logged so many innings. However, he’s had 2 1/2 years of not pitching. I hate to call it rest as much as he’s grinded on his elbow and shoulder.

“It’s not an arm that has a ton of innings piled on it the last two years.”

Finnegan a vet at 23

While no one can question Arroyo's experience, 23-year-old Brandon Finnegan suddenly has become a de facto veteran on the Reds staff.

The 23-year-old left-lander is the only Reds starter who spent all of last year in the big-league rotation. Finnegan was 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 starts last year.

He will start Wednesday night.

“He goes as his command goes,” Price said. “He has room to improve the command and pitch quality of his three pitches. When they all show up and he has the fastball, slider and changeup, he can be extremely effective as a ground ball pitcher, strikeout pitcher.

“Where he gets in trouble is when his pitch count goes up early in the game and he struggles with his overall command. He competes like crazy. He’s as good as anyone on the staff. To put some spit and polish on his command and learn the game is the challenge I put before him.”

Young guns start in the pen

Although Finnegan has established himself as a starter, the Reds' other young arms won't be in the rotation just yet. The Reds begin the year with starting pitching prospects Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed in the bullpen. The Reds still see them as starters down the line.

Getting them enough work early may be difficult.

“In the length role and currently with a nine-man bullpen, which eventually will be eight and eventually be seven, we’ll have to use Triple-A as a place for guys to go and get work from time to time,” Price said. “To do that, you need pitchers in Triple-A who are interchangeable pieces. That’s where our excitement is.”

Tim Adleman, Sal Ramano, Jackson Stephens and Lisaverto Bonilla fit into that category.

“Should there come a time where there’s inactivity with one of our guys who have options,” Price said, “we can certainly use Triple-A as a way to get repetitions.”

As for Stephenson’s and Reed’s roles right now?

“The role early in the season is to get into an earlier game on multi-inning situations,” Price said. “Not necessarily for multi-innings. We want to get everyone in the game.

“I wish I could tell you exactly how I’m going to use them. Sometimes, the game situations don’t allow me to do that.”

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