Reds await return of three veteran pitchers

Reds await return of three veteran pitchers

NEW YORK — For the second straight week, three members of the Cincinnati Reds’ optimal starting rotation will make rehab starts, one after the other.

Right-hander Homer Bailey, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, started for Double-A Pensacola on Tuesday. Left-hander John Lamb, who underwent back surgery in December, allowed two runs over eight innings for Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday. And right-hander Anthony DeSclafini, who is out with a strained left oblique, is scheduled to start for Class A Dayton on Thursday.

Theoretically, the return of the three pitchers sometime in the next month would boost the rotation and help the Reds — who lost for the fourth straight time and the 12th time in 16 games by falling to the New York Mets, 5-2, on Wednesday night at Citi Field — regain their early-season footing and keep Cincinnati (9-13) from falling hopelessly behind in the playoff race.

“It would be really nice to have a little bit more experience in the rotation and guys that have been out there in innings seven, eight and nine and not have to lean on our bullpen quite as much,” Reds manager Bryan Price said Wednesday afternoon.

But there’s no pretense of pursuing a postseason berth this season by the Reds, who committed to a full-scale rebuilding project following a 64-98 campaign in 2015, Instead, the return of the three starters — including the reigning staff ace in DeSclafini and the rotation’s elder statesmen in Bailey — will give Price more possibilities to consider as he tries to figure out which of the Reds’ young pitchers will be in future rotations and which will head for the bullpen.

“Take this group that we have of starters and define who may either, short-term or long-term be better-suited to help us in the bullpen,” Price said. “And then define who is better served being in Triple-A pitching as starters regularly and who’s best transitioning into a bullpen role and who is best-served pitching in our starting rotation.”

Nobody’s really established himself in any role yet for the Reds, who entered Wednesday with the second-worst ERA (5.54) in the majors. But as painful as the process has been at times, Price said he has also been emboldened by the clean slate.

“I’ll tell you: I’m sleeping a lot better this year than I did last year, and in large part because I think we know what’s in front of us and what our goal is — rebuilding a pitching staff,” Price said.