CINCINNATI -- The Reds made their daily move to try to fix (or at least somewhat improve) the bullpen Friday.
The move: They designated right-hander Tim Melville for assignment and selected the Triple-A contract of right-hander JC Ramirez.
In the last five days, the Reds have shuffled relievers to and from Louisville five times. The old “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” comes to mind.
The Reds relief corps went into Friday with the worst numbers in Major League Baseball with a 6.75 ERA. The killer stat? Thirty-six walks in 58-2/3 innings.
The Reds' moves largely have been to remove ineffective relievers -- not necessarily to bring up relievers who were tearing it up un the minors.
Drew Hayes, called up Thursday, was 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA at Louisville with five walks in 5-2/3 innings. He allowed four runs over two innings in his debut.
Ramirez at least had good numbers at Louisville. He had not allowed a run in six innings to go along with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Ramirez is 27 with a 1-3 record and 6.42 ERA in the majors. But you’re not going to find relievers in the want-ads in late April.
So why not try Ramirez?
“He has some experience,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s another big arm. He’s a hard thrower with a slider. He was one of the guys throwing pretty well for Louisville, and that makes a difference. (Thursday), we beat up the ‘pen a little bit and needed to make a move to get a fresh arm. We went and got the guy our guys felt was throwing the ball the best out of the bullpen there in Louisville.”
Ramirez had a 2.72 ERA in Triple-A last year for Arizona and Seattle. But he won’t be facing Triple-A hitters with the Reds.
“When we signed him, we looked really hard at why he wasn’t having the success in the big leagues you would think he would have with this type of stuff,” Price said. “A lot of it was how he used his pitches, what sides of the plate he used and where he got in trouble. We identified that, and that was really the challenge we gave to him when he was sent to Louisville -- 'Go out there and make the changes.'”
Ramirez says the Reds wanted him to rely on more than his fastball.
“They wanted me to throw my slider in any count,” he said. “I showed them I can do that. ... I showed them it’s a pitch I can get people out. I feel really good throwing it right now.”
Ramirez is not going to turn the bullpen around by himself. Caleb Cotham had not allowed a run in eight innings going into Friday. Blake Wood had a 3.38 ERA. The rest of ‘pen all had inflated ERAs: Tony Cingrani (4.05), Ross Ohlendorf (8.22), J.J. Hoover (15.19) and Hayes (18.00).
The real help could come when starters Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and John Lamb return. That should happen in all cases over the next two weeks.
Until then, the daily transaction with a reliever probably isn’t going to make an awful bullpen even a mediocre one.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist. This column represents his opinion.