Despite using his bat a few times in 2017, the Cincinnati Reds would be able to use it better if Michael Lorenzen started.
The Cincinnati Reds were spot on last season in using Michael Lorenzen as a batter. He has power and overall skill. With a short bench due to a longer bullpen, having a pitcher that can pinch hit is a great value.
The problem is that Lorenzen was part of that very bullpen. Worse than that, he was the primary set-up man along with Wandy Peralta. Using Lorenzen as a pinch hitter is great, but not in the late innings.
Pitchers as pinch hitters make sense in the first five or six innings. You use them when you need a better bunter or don’t want to pull a position player off of the bench. If you used Lorenzen then, he couldn’t pitch in the bullpen later.
If you use Lorenzen as a starting pitcher, then he would be available three or four days a week as an early inning pinch hitter. He wouldn’t be available the day he pitched. He also would likely be unavailable the day after he started.
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Lorenzen would not be a better option than the position players that appear to be slotted for the bench. Between Dilson Herrera and Lorenzen, you’d want Herrera to bat. However, Lorenzen would be a decent option to keep Herrera on the bench for later in the game.
The Cincinnati Reds have several starting pitching options that they could use in the same manner.
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Lorenzen was two for twelve last season. He had a home run and a single. He also struck out five times.
The other elite batter among the Reds’ pitchers is Homer Bailey. He is a .164 career hitter. He batted .250 in 2017 with 2 doubles and 7 sacrifice bunts over 35 plate appearances.
The Reds have a trio of prospects that showed potential batting in limited time. Rookie Davis, Tyler Mahle, and Jackson Stephens all appeared to have some offensive talent in small sample sizes.
Free agent Scott Feldman was the lone starting pitcher that appeared consistently over matched at the plate.
Stephens was two for six with two RBIs and a run scored in 2017. Davis batted .167 with a double, but only batted six times over seven starts. Mahle was one for seven in his cup of coffee to end 2017.
With the right mix of starting pitchers in 2018, the Reds can practically add another batter to the bench. A .143 batter with occasional power is nearly always better than letting a reliever bat. Unless of course that reliever is Michael Lorenzen.