Cincinnati Reds: Michael Lorenzen returns to form vs Indians

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen pitched a perfect sixth inning on Monday night.

Admit it, when Michael Lorenzen replaced Sonny Gray last night, you were a bit nervous. That would have never been the case last season, as Lorenzen was one of, if not the best reliever on the Cincinnati Reds. Mikey Biceps returned to form last night, retiring the Cleveland Indians in order in the sixth inning.

To say that Lorenzen’s early-season performance has been underwhelming is being kind. The Reds reliever entered Monday’s affair with a 16.88 ERA, 1.875 WHIP and had allowed three home runs during his first three appearances out of the Cincinnati bullpen.

The Reds 6-4 loss to the Tigers in the second game of the season will be hung on Raisel Iglesias, but it was Lorenzen who gave up a two-run bomb to Miguel Cabrera in the top of the seventh inning. In the series finale against Detroit at Great American Ball Park, Lorenzen entered the ninth inning in a 1-1 tie, but surrendered a game-winning two-run homer to C.J. Cron.

For the Reds to compete for a spot in the postseason, Michael Lorenzen has to be on his game. Last night, the Zen Master entered the game in the seventh inning after Joey Votto’s home run in the bottom of the sixth gave Cincinnati a one-run cushion. Lorenzen wasted no time throwing gas by Daniel Johnson, who went down on three straight pitches.

The next batter was Oscar Mercado. The Indians centerfielder flied out to his Reds counterpart Shogo Akiyama after Lorenzen had fallen behind 3-1. Sandy Leon was Cleveland’s final batter of the inning. After Leon fouled off a 97-MPH fastball, Lorenzen went with an off-speed pitch and the Indians catcher was well out in front of it.

Nate Jones took over in the eighth inning and was followed by Iglesias who closed the door in the ninth inning. Outside of Lucas Sims, Pedro Strop and Tejay Antone, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen has not been very reliable. Sure, Amir Garrett has been solid in spots, and Jones has looked good, but overall the bullpen has been the Achilles heel of this team so far in 2020.

Give credit to David Bell, who knows that he needs Michael Lorenzen at his best. Turning to Lorenzen in the seventh inning with the bottom of the Indians batting order coming up was a smart move. The Reds only maintained a one-run lead, so Lorenzen would need to perform, but the Indians heavy-hitters (Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez) were not stepping to the plate.

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Lorenzen needed that boost of confidence and so did the Reds bullpen. Not only did Lorenzen perform well, but between he, Jones and Iglesias, the Cincinnati relief corps recorded six strikeouts and allowed just one hit and no walks. That is the type of performance that Bell needs from his bullpen on a consistent basis.