Growing pains for a young pitching staff

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the Man Cave while watching the Cleveland Indians, the team of my youth (and my adulthood) try to beat the Toronto Blue Jays to win their 14th straight game. Is it 1954 all over again?

The Cincinnati Reds continue to have growing pains and the pains this year cant’ be relieved by any medication known to man (or woman).

They are getting what they should expect from their young pitching staff — one never knows from game to game what they will get, especially from the three young left handers currently in the rotation that they received from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto deal.

So far, so bad.

WHILE JOHNNY CUETO is 11-and-1 with the San Francisco Giants, Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed have combined for four wins and 13 losses.

Finnegan, 3-and-7, has shown promise with his tenacity and toughness, but he ran into a runaway Hummer Thursday night in Washington when he gave up eight runs, five hits, five walks and two home runs (both by Danny Espinosa for seven runs) in only 2 2/3 innings.

Finnegan’s major flaw is the base on balls. He has pitched 96 1/3 innings over his 17 starts and walked 49, nearly one every two innings. And he has given up 14 home runs.

LAMB, A LOOK-ALIKE for Gen. George Armstrong Custer with his long blond hair and flowing mustache, has the same affinity for walks and home runs as Finnegan.

He is 1-and-4 in 11 starts and over his 58 2/3 innings he has walked 25, also nearly one every two innings, and given up nine home runs.

REED, SUPPOSEDLY THE best of the three if you believe scouting reports, is 0-and-2 in his three starts, giving up 16 runs and 24 hits in 16 innings. Incredibly, he has given up six home runs in 16 innings and mixed in five walks.

The big question is if they will get better, throw more quality strikes to cut down the walks and the home runs. It is a difficult situation in a losing environment where they have zero wriggle room for mistakes.

Confidence is a major factor on a pitching mound, but so far during post-game conversations with all three it is evident they are stuffed with self-confidence and so far are not suffering from the stress of taking it on the chin so often.

AND SPEAKING of a losing environment, some fans don’t quite grasp the concept of rebuilding a team. Some want manager Bryan Price relieved of his duties forthwith.

There already has been one published report that Price will be fired at the All-Star break and replaced by David Bell, a St. Louis Cardinals coach and the son of former Reds third baseman and Cincinnati native Buddy Bell.

THE REDS FRONT office vehemently denies that will happen. And here’s hoping they aren’t talking out of both sides of their mouths.

It is their fault that the Reds are in this situation. They are the ones who traded Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier. They are the ones who left Price’s cupboard as bare as that of a family spending a year in Europe.

They are the ones who put together the current team, one that is in constant flux as the Louisville-Pensacola shuttle burns fuel daily.

THERE IS NOTHING Price can do to find enough ballast to right the listing ship. Nothing can be gained by firing him at this point. It is like the year Sparky Anderson lost 103 games in Detroit (1989). As good as Sparky was with the Big Red Machine, he would do no better than Price with these Reds.

It would be different if the teamquit on him. They haven’t quit. They work hard and they try hard but they are vastly outmanned on a daily basis.

It would be different if the players didn’t respect him and the clubhouse became a grumble den. But it hasn’t. There are no complaints from the players aimed Price’s way.

With the young starting staff going through the School of Hard Knocks and with a pigpen of a bullpen, Price has no chance.

Hopefully, the front office realizes this and at least permits Price to finish this mess of a season and don’t make a nice, hard-working man walk the plank when he is doing all he can to make do with what little they’ve given him.

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