Reds to give Holmberg look in Cueto's spot

Reds to give Holmberg look in Cueto's spot

ST. LOUIS -- To fill the vacancy in the rotation created by the trade of Johnny Cueto to the Royals, the Reds will call up left-hander David Holmberg from Triple-A Louisville to start on Thursday vs. the Pirates.

It is slated to be Holmberg's first actual callup this season -- two previously planned ones were scrubbed when rainouts changed the schedule. In seven big league games -- including five starts -- for the Reds in 2014, he was 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA.

"He's coming off a really nice start," Reds manager Bryan Price said about Holmberg, rated the Reds' 27th-best prospect by MLB.com. "There's a sense that he's made some necessary progress that will make him a better option now than perhaps earlier in the year.

"The other part is I don't want to underappreciate what he did for us last year in September. He really pitched well. He didn't have a great season in Triple-A for us, from a statistical standpoint, but he sure did have a nice September for us. It would be nice to see what we have with David, and how he can pitch up here, and see if there are some things we can do to help him be the type of pitcher we thought he could be when we traded for him [in a three-team deal in 2013 that sent Ryan Hanigan to the Rays]."

On Thursday for Louisville, Holmberg allowed one run and seven hits over six innings with no walks and four strikeouts for a victory. In 19 games, including 17 starts, this season, he is 7-6 with a 4.40 ERA. Over 108 1/3 innings, he allowed 129 hits, 13 home runs, 38 walks with 61 strikeouts and 1.54 WHIP.

As a September callup last season, Holmberg had a 1.82 ERA in his five games, including three starts. Although noting that anything could happen in a week where roster changes are possible, Price indicated that Holmberg could be sticking around for a while.

"I don't anticipate him being up for one start," Price said.

Not given consideration for the start was Reds top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson, who pitched on Tuesday for Louisville. The club will continue to monitor his performances and consistency in Triple-A, in addition to his innings totals.

"We have to do the best job we can to try and identify readiness and evaluate the stuff and how it would play here," Price said. "We've made some decisions this year out of necessity on who we had to call up. In his situation, I think it's paramount that he's ready to take on the challenge of pitching in the big leagues, not just physically, but the mental portion of it as well. He's certainly throwing the ball well at Triple-A."

As for two of the three left-handed prospects acquired from the Royals for Cueto -- Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb -- both were not ruled out for future promotions.

"They're both guys we targeted as guys who could help our ballclub -- certainly in 2016, but I don't think 2015 is premature," Price said. "In the case of Finnegan, it's simply trying to make sure he's stretched out and capable of starting, if we decided that's where he's best suited for us this year."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.