Reds best starting pitcher likely headed to DL

Knee pain sidelines Scott Feldman after first inning Monday

The worst starting pitching staff in baseball does have an ace. Scott Feldman won’t win the Cy Young Award this season. What the 34-year-old veteran has done is save the Cincinnati Reds from an even worse fate in 2017.

Feldman’s season hit a snag Monday, however, in a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park. He allowed five earned runs in the first inning and then left the game because of knee pain.

SPORTS TODAY: Nationals dominant against Reds

Feldman likely will spend time on the disabled list, manager Bryan Price said.

“He’s had some on-and-off knee stiffness throughout the season that he’s dealt with,” Price said. “He got treatment and has been able to pitch with it and pitch very effectively with it.”

After warming up before the game, Feldman told Price he would pitch. Then he gave up a double and single to start the game. The third batter, Bryce Harper, hit a three-run home run. The fourth, Ryan Zimmerman, hit a solo shot. A walk, single and a sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

“By the time we got to the end of the first inning,” Price said, “it was apparent it wasn’t a great idea to keep him out there.”

The Nationals (56-36) completed their first four-game sweep of the Reds (39-53) and tied the record for most home runs hit against the Reds in a four-game series (13). The Reds hadn’t allowed 13 home runs in a four-game series since 1961.

SUNDAY’S STORY: Bailey gives up 8 runs in loss

Feldman doesn’t know the exact nature of the knee pain, only that it’s something he has overcome in recent starts. The pain affected his velocity.

“I didn’t really get over the hump today,” Feldman said. “It didn’t loosen up. Not only was I making bad pitches, they were coming in 8 miles an hour slower than normal. It was one of those days where it wasn’t cooperating.”

This was the shortest start of Feldman’s career. He fell to 7-7. His ERA jumped from 3.94 to 4.34. That’s still the best mark on the staff for anyone who has made more than five starts.

“It’s hard to see him struggle because he’s done everything he can to take the field and compete for us,” Price said. “He’s been our best starter. He’s been a great addition to the organization. He’s appreciated the opportunity. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity. He’s worked his tail off. He’s been influential with the young guys. And he’s been a performer. The idea of him not being in the mix, at least for a short period of time, hurts the club and hurts me personally because he’s given us everything he’s got to give us some important innings.”

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