CINCINNATI — It was a rather stunning admission the other day when Reds manager Bryan Price said this about building a starting rotation:
“I think eventually we’re going to have to look into finding something from outside moving forward that can really be something to build around. A strong health history would be a good place to start.”
Turns out, there’s a good chance the Reds will look inside for a solution as well. Price says the club will consider moving reliever Michael Lorenzen back into the rotation for 2018.
“It’s a talking point because I know how badly he wants to do it,” Price said. “He’s filling a very important role for us this year. In the offseason, we certainly can reassess and see if we can provide him with the opportunity if that’s the best fit for the club.”
By the way, the Reds almost certainly won’t consider it with Raisel Iglesias.
The Reds are looking outside and inside for solutions because the young prospects simply have not come through as they had hoped this year. Top prospects Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Amir Garrett remain in Triple-A, despite the fact that four starters went on the disabled list.
I applaud the move with Lorenzen. He’s a bit older than Stephenson, Reed and Garrett, and he has done something that those guys haven't done. He has proven he can get big-league hitters out on a regular basis.
He has done in it relief, of course, this year. He is 5-2 with a 3.83 ERA. He has allowed 42 hits, walked 22 and struck out 45 in 49 1/3 innings.
Lorenzen has more pitches than most relievers.
“Michael’s not a two-pitch reliever. He’s a fastball, curveball, cutter, slider, changeup guy,” Price said.
According to fangraphs.com, Lorenzen throws 49 percent fastballs, 26 percent cut fastballs, 12.7 percent curveballs, 10.8 percent sliders and 1.4 percent changeups.
Lorenzen was given the chance to start in 2014 with spotty results. He was 4-9 with a 5.45 ERA.
But he is a different pitcher now.
“I think he can start,” Price said. “He’s not a reliever because he believe he can’t start. He’s a reliever because he’s filling a current role.”
Lorenzen was a closer/center fielder in college. The Reds converted him to starting after picking him 38th overall in the 2013 draft. He started in the minors. He reached the majors in his second full year of professional ball.
He made 21 starts in 2015. He was set to pitch out of the rotation in ’16, but the Reds moved him to relief after he missed time with a sore elbow and a bout with mono.
“There’s been a lot of moving parts to his brief major league career,” Price said. “I still believe he can start.”
As Price said, Lorenzen wants to start. And he doesn’t lack confidence.
“Do I believe I can be a great starter in the major leagues? Of course,” Lorenzen said. “Do I believe I can be a great closer, reliever in the major leagues? Of course. Do I believe I can be a great center fielder in the major leagues? I do.”
The Reds right now need a starter more than a closer or center fielder or a really good setup man.
If the Reds do make the move, it would likely be in spring training. There’s no harm in getting a reliever ready as a starter. The early workload in spring is fairly similar.
“We did that with (Aroldis) Chapman,” Price said. “Sometimes it was to get the repetitions.”
The Reds went back and forth on Chapman early in his career. Chapman sort of ended that by insisting he was a closer. Price would not completely rule out Iglesias a starter.
“I don’t want to speak for the whole organization on a question like that,” Price said. “I really like him where he’s at and that’s as a multi-inning relief pitcher. He’s just really good at it.
“I still think he could be a good starter. I think the concerns are with long-term health with workload. I haven’t changed my mind in regard to that. Never say never. But I don’t think a lot about that. I don’t think about starting as much with Rasiel.”
With Lorenzen, he obviously does.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.