For two years now, the Reds have been playing with lots and lots of young pitchers trying to figure out who will stick in the rotation and who won’t. As much as it’s befuddled those of us who watch the team, it seems to also confuse some of the players.
Cody Reed has been in and out of the starting rotation conversation for the last couple of years. A recent run of very strong performances has put him back in the conversation-seemingly. Recently, the Reds recalled Reed from Louisville and put him in the bullpen. A solid, extended outing in relief of Robert Stephenson should have people wondering about his potential as a starter.
It’s been strange to watch the Reds fumble around with the pitching rotation for the last several years, and observers, apparently, aren’t the only ones confused. I talked to Reed about his last couple of years and how he feels he’s progressed this season.
“The Reds want me to start, but they’ve given me two chances in the last two years. They want me to start, but I go up in the pen. They want me to start, but I go up for a day, I don’t even throw, I come right back down.
“I was supposed to start the day I got called up [July 4]. I don’t get into the game, and they already told me before the game, ‘You’re going back down.’ That’s already a brutal mindset going into the game. It puts a bad little taste in your mouth, I guess. But that’s the business side. I’m gonna do whatever they tell me, right?”
As frank as these comments are, it’s easy to understand what Reed says. Routine is a big part of starting pitching, and getting out of routine can affect performance.
I also asked Reed about his friendship with Stephenson. They’ve had similar paths back and forth between Louisville and Cincinnati the last few seasons, and I wanted to know what it was like to go through that with a friend. “As for me and Rob, we’ve definitely had our ups and downs. Everyone gets hit around. I think it’s left us being a little bitter. Last year going back and forth, he was up there out of the pen, they really didn’t know what they were doing with him. And now, here I am. I don’t know how many starts I’ve made down here [Louisville], but I feel like I’ve made some strides.”
I talked to Reed the day after Stephenson’s first start with the Reds after being called back up. The Reds had a day game and the Bats had a night game in Louisville. I asked Reed if it was good to see his friend get a shot again. “Absolutely. I think the guy deserves the world. He got drafted in 2011. A lot of guys would have given up by now. I even ordered food just so I could watch it, even though I was pitching yesterday.”
I also talked to both Bats Pitching coach Jeff Fassero and manager Dick Schofield about Reed. Fassero said he worked with Reed on trusting himself more and worrying less about hitting an exact spot and more about throwing to a general area. It’s a sentiment Reed agreed with when I asked him about it.
Schofield had very interesting comments about Reed, indicating that the Reds may view him as a relief pitcher at the big league level. “He’s one of those guys that starts here, gets called up, and probably be out of the pen. That’s just the way it is. He has that type of arm where can come in and give you an inning. Whatever is done with him is done, but he’s had an outstanding second half and we’ll see what happens.”
In talking to and asking about Reed, it’s interesting to see that the kind of confusion many of us-as outside observers-see within the Reds organization might be actual confusion within the organization. The Reds may lean one way or another at different times, and for both players and staff that’s going to generate confusion. As we’ve watched reports surface that Castellini may be playing a bigger role than expected in baseball decisions, it’s hard not be pessimistic about the possibility of a concrete direction emerging within the organization.
Jason Linden is a contributor to Nuxhall Way, Redleg Nation, and The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.