Reds pitching coach alarmed by increased number of injuries across baseball

Reds catcher Curt Casali, pitcher Luis Castillo and pitching coach Derek Johnson talk during a game against the Royals on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds catcher Curt Casali, pitcher Luis Castillo and pitching coach Derek Johnson talk during a game against the Royals on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski/Staff

Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson looks at MLBTradeRumors.com every night. The number of pitcher injuries he has seen just over a quarter of the way through the 60-game season is alarming.

According to ESPN, 56 pitchers were placed on the injured list in the first 18 days of the season for reasons not related to COVID-19.

The Reds have been relatively fortunate. While Robert Stephenson, Matt Bowman and Pedro Strop are currently on the injured list and Anthony DeSclafani opened the season on the injured list, they haven’t lost a pitcher for the season. Wade Miley returned from the injured list and to the starting rotation Wednesday.

Keeping an eye on pitching counts has become even more important than normal for the Reds.

“We’re not going to roll with someone who’s at 110 pitches because he’s pitching well,” Johnson said. “From our standpoint, we have to look at now and at the future. We can’t get these guys hurt.”

Between appearances, Johnson has advised pitchers to be smart with their bullpen sessions. Don’t throw on the side just to throw on the side. Some have opted not to throw on days when they were scheduled to throw.

Johnson also praised the training staff for keeping his pitchers healthy.

“They have every sort of technology known to mankind in that training room,” Johnson said. “A lot of these guys are taking advantage of it.”

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Key performance: Seventeen games into the season, Lucas Sims has the best numbers in the Reds bullpen. He lowered his ERA to 1.08 by pitching a scoreless 10th inning Tuesday in a 6-5 victory against the Kansas City Royals. He has made a team-high eight appearances.

Sims has been preparing himself mentally for entering games in challenging moments, and he faced a big one in the series opener. He was the first Reds pitcher to take the mound in extra innings with the new rule that gives teams a runner at second to start the inning.

“It’s something that quite honestly I’ve been thinking about,” Sims said. “I’ve been trying to learn from previous outings: what I’ve done well and what are some things I can improve on. I was ready for it. I wanted the ball right there. I wanted to get us back in the dugout and give us some momentum, and we were able to come through there in the 10th.”

Big moment: While Joey Votto was ecstatic to lift the Reds to the extra-inning victory with an RBI double off the wall in the 10th inning, he was even more excited about the swing.

“I thought it would be a homer,” Votto said. “I’m very happy about it. It was one of my best swings in years.”

Votto went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .220. It was his first multi-hit game since July 27. He had two hits in three of the first four games.

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Looking ahead: The Reds start a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

Every game starts at a different time: 5:10 p.m. Thursday; 7:10 p.m. Friday; 6:10 p.m. Saturday; and 1:10 p.m. Sunday.