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Reds: Michael Lorenzen’s 2021 season derailed by one bad inning

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 15: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 15: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Michael Lorenzen had an up-and-down season. The right-hander entered spring training with the opportunity to be the Cincinnati Reds No. 5 starter, but a shoulder injury sidelined Lorenzen to begin the 2021 season.

Lorenzen returned right after the All-Star break, but while running the bases during his first game back, the 29-year-old injured his hamstring and returned to the IL. While this was a major blow, especially considering where the Cincinnati bullpen was at the time, Mikey Biceps rehabbed furiously, and returned to the team just 13 days.

After coming back for a second time, Lorenzen looked every bit the pitcher that Reds Country thought would help salvage their season and lead the relief corps down the stretch. Unfortunately, Lorenzen was undone by the big inning this season and his inability to get strikeouts.

Michael Lorenzen didn’t help the Reds down the stretch.

It was a tale of two months for Michael Lorenzen. The Reds reliever went from July 30th through August 22nd without allowing a single run in 11 appearances spanning 12.1 innings. Still, Lorenzen recorded just 10 punch outs during that stretch.

Once the floodgates opened, however, it seemed as though the mighty Lorenzen was powerless to stop it. On August 24th in Milwaukee, a game the Cincinnati Reds desperately needed to win, Lorenzen faced five batters, allowed three hits, one walk, and three earned runs.

Cincinnati was nursing a 4-1 lead at the time and clinging to their postseason lives with a chance to put a dent in the Milwaukee Brewers seven-game lead in the division. Unfortunately for Lorenzen, he allowed back-to-back-to-back singles to Brewers’ hitters, and lead shrunk to just two runs.

Lorenzen was pulled after surrendering a walk to Jace Pederson, and the right-hander’s replacement allowed Christian Yelich to bring home a run with a sacrifice fly. Another sacrifice fly allowed another run (also charged to Lorenzen) to score. Then an RBI double put the Crew up for good and Milwaukee took a commanding lead in the division after their 7-4 comeback win.

That one game seemed to greatly affect Michael Lorenzen, and the California native was never able to recover. Sure, Lorenzen had some solid outings, but after that forgettable performance, his ERA spiked over the final month of the season.

Over his final 15 appearances in 2021, Lorenzen carried a 10.34 ERA and struck out just nine batters over 15.2 innings. In fact, in eight of those contests, Lorenzen failed to record even one strikeout. That’s very unusual for a player who posted a 23.8% strikeout-rate in 2020. Lorenzen’s K-rate in 2021 was just 16.8%.

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Michael Lorenzen will enter the offseason, for the first time, as a free agent. Will the Cincinnati Reds attempt to re-sign the right-hander? That’s a very good question, and one we’ll tackle later this winter. If indeed this was Lorenzen’s last season with the Reds, it’s certainly not the way he envisioned going out.

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