CINCINNATI -- In the final week of March during Spring Training, pitcher Dan Straily bounced among three different clubs. He was traded from the Astros to the Padres and claimed off waivers by the Reds. And what a match it has been for both parties.
With his latest victory in the Reds' 5-4 win over the Marlins on Thursday, Straily improved to 9-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 26 games, including 23 starts after moving from the bullpen to the rotation. Since the All-Star break, he is 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in seven starts that have all been won by Cincinnati.
"Going back that far, I didn't know where I was going to be," Straily said. "But this was what I expected of myself, no matter where I was. It's not finished yet. We've got another eight or nine starts. It is something to keep that carrot out there and keep working, but it definitely feels good to be where I'm at right now."
Against Miami, Straily threw six innings with two earned runs, six hits, no walks and seven strikeouts for his team-leading 15th quality start.
"It's a special year for him and a chance for him, really, to begin to solidify a Major League career instead of being considered a journeyman pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That was important for him, and we've been the beneficiaries."
Benefiting Straily in his final inning was a chance to pause after he encountered his first real trouble in the game. A first-pitch changeup to Marcell Ozuna was belted for a two-run homer and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a single.
When Chris Johnson followed by starting out with a 2-0 count, pitching coach Mack Jenkins made a mound visit as Jumbo Diaz warmed up in the bullpen.
"[Jenkins] asked me how I was doing," Straily said. "He was just giving me a break. He asked me what I was going to go with. I looked at [catcher Ramon] Cabrera, and we both just said, 'Sliders.' It was kind of on the same page. It was real good command of the slider tonight, and he knew it was right there.
"I'm sure, logistically, it was to give Jumbo some more time to get ready. But from my standpoint, it was just about what the next pitch was."
Straily followed with a slider for a called strike and then got Johnson to swing and miss at a fastball. The 2-2 pitch was also a slider, and Johnson bounced to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who started the inning-ending double play.
"It was big. Mack is very in-tune with what he sees," Price said. "He has a very special ability to see what a guy is doing and how to get him back into a good place. It was a great mound visit. They don't always end that way."
Bouncing around different clubs during Spring Training doesn't always have a good outcome, either. But Straily has shown it is certainly possible.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.