Price waiting for young pitchers to step up

Price waiting for young pitchers to step up

TORONTO -- Cincinnati's starting rotation is still searching for answers after Monday night's 17-2 loss in Toronto, and despite a long list of options, the Reds continue to wait for one to step to the forefront.

Lisalverto Bonilla struggled to command the ball, walking five batters and allowing six runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work. By the end of the game, the Reds' starting pitchers held the dubious titles of highest staff ERA and most home runs allowed, and pitching the fewest innings in Major League Baseball.

"There's not a ton of options until two things [happen]," said manager Bryan Price. "One thing is getting our DL guys healthy again, and No. 2 is getting the kids that we've sent down to get better."

Pitching injuries have piled up very quickly for the Reds, so it's not at all surprising that their rotation depth has been strained. Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, and Brandon Finnegan are all on the DL along with lefty Amir Garrett, who showed promising flashes in his eight starts before joining them, and the 23-year-old Nick Travieso.

At the Minor League level, the Reds have right-hander Barrett Astin and left-hander Cody Reed, both of whom were sent down in May, with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Luis Castillo, the club's No. 6 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, has pitched well in Double-A, but Price says that any decision with him is best left to Cincinnati's player development personnel, which see the 24-year-old on a start-to-start basis.

"None of those are imminent," Price said. "None of those are just around the corner. We still have some time to deal with, so we certainly need some better performances."

The Reds did well to use just two relief pitchers on Monday, saving their bullpen from what could have been a much more taxing night. This keeps the group sharp in case they're needed on Tuesday, when Cincinnati sends Asher Wojciechowski to the mound as their 10th starter of the 2017 season.

"We need a good start," Price said. "We've seen that the ineffective early innings, the big innings early, has kind of been our Achilles heel so far this year in games we've lost. It was no different today, we were down by a lot early."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.