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Arroyo uncertain about future with Reds after final start of regular season

Bronson Arroyo wouldn’t have scripted this ending — if this was the end of his career with the Reds — unless he’s into horror movies.

In what could have been his last start in a Cincinnati uniform, Arroyo gave up a career-high five home runs and walked off the mound knowing he had probably helped cost his team a chance to host the Wild Card Game on Tuesday. The fact that he’s a free agent after this season and doesn’t know what his future holds crossed his mind as he left the mound in the fifth with the Reds trailing 6-3.

“I would have loved to have walked off the mound with the lead,” Arroyo said. “It’s baseball, man. Every day you never know what you’re going to get. Today those guys put on a good show.”

The Reds lost 8-3 on Saturday at Great American Ball Park and will close the regular season today with a meaningless game against the Pirates. The teams will turn around and play the most meaningful game of the season two days later in Pittsburgh.

The Reds will have to win Tuesday to give Arroyo a shot at redemption. If he doesn’t pitch in the National League Division Series against the Braves or Cardinals, it’s possible he won’t pitch again for the Reds.

Asked what he thought his chances of returning to Cincinnati for a ninth season were, Arroyo said, “Honestly, I don’t have any idea. When you don’t have any conversation about it, then it’s left to the imagination. I’m sure there are plenty of positives about bringing me back, and there are some negatives. It’s going to be an interesting offseason for me. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. Hopefully, we play deep enough into October that they’re excited about having the same ballclub back, but we’ll see.”

Arroyo, 36, crossed the 200-inning mark for the eighth time in his career, and it wasn’t easy. He didn’t feel 100 percent from the start.

“Something locked up before the game started,” he said. “It felt like a rib was out of place. It still does. I don’t think it affected the game that much. I wasn’t that comfortable out there, but you just can’t get away with leaving balls up in the zone as much as I did in a ballpark as small as this is with a lineup they have over there. It was definitely poor location.”

If Arroyo doesn’t return to the Reds, he may have already secured a spot in the Reds Hall of Fame. He ranks 17th in team history in wins (105), eighth in starts (265) and seventh in strikeouts (1,112).

“It will be strange if this is my last start,” Arroyo said. “Hopefully not. We’re down to Tuesday. We’ve still got life, just as much as they do. But it’s definitely something to think about.”

Lucky Reds: From one perspective, the Reds are fortunate to still have life. This is the second year baseball has had two wild card teams in each league.

In any other year except the last two, Saturday’s loss would have eliminated the Reds. First baseman Joey Votto is a fan of the new format.

“From my perspective, anything that increases fan interest, increases attendance and energizes cities that in the past wouldn’t have had that hope and belief into September, I think it’s fantastic,” Votto said.

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