Price monitoring starting rotation's innings

Price monitoring starting rotation's innings

CINCINNATI -- Setting an innings cap for younger pitchers has become the norm around baseball, and that could become a problem for the Reds down the stretch.

Right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani threw six more innings on Tuesday to help lead the Reds to a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. The 25-year-old rookie is now up to 126 innings across 21 starts, and he said on Sunday he hadn't received any indication that he'll be shut down at any point this season and is planning to go the rest of the way.

"I haven't been told as far as an innings limit for me," DeSclafani said prior to Sunday's game against the Pirates. "I should be good to go, just until the end of the season whatever the innings end up being. Whether it's 170 or 200 or whatever, I should be fine."

Now operating with a five-rookie rotation, Cincinnati could run into trouble with the number of innings for its starting pitchers. When asked how the club will control the innings moving forward, Reds manager Bryan Price held up a yellow-paper legal pad with names and inning-numbers written down. He didn't share the details of the information written down, but made it known this is something the Reds will pay close attention to moving forward.

"Absolutely we will have had an eye on that," Price said. "The biggest challenge is that a lot of guys that will be considered as callups for September and maybe even earlier are guys that don't have that first Major League season where they've pitched in September. Where they had the chance to take their innings workload from 145 or 150 to 175-185, so we are going to have a lot of guys in a very similar position where we are going to have to be cautious with their innings."

One way to lower the number of innings is by adding an arm or two to create a six- or seven-man rotation. But Price isn't a fan of that idea. He said he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a six- or seven-man rotation, but considers it more of a "last resort" for the club.

"I would never say never. [But] there's something I like about the five-man rotation," Price said. "What I like about it is these guys being conditioned to pitch every fifth day for six months instead of five. … That to me would be closer to a last resort, but certainly a possibility. It could be something that we look at as a one particular option."

Top prospect turning heads

Right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson could be one of those September callup's Price mentioned if he continues to dazzle with Triple-A Louisville.

Stephenson, who is the Reds' No. 2 prospect, was awarded International League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after a pair of solid outings. In two starts last week Stephenson gave up a combined one run, six hits and three walks, while striking out 15 in 14 innings.

The 22-year-old is now 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 36 innings across six starts with Louisville this season.

Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.