Posted on April 14, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Cincinnati Reds are currently enjoying their best start to a season in over a quarter-century. The 2017 version of the Big Red Machine has gotten the job done early in the season with a relatively young team. Of course, there are a few exceptions, most notably veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who has earned a spot in Cincinnati’s rotation after not pitching in the big leagues since June 2014. However, while the Reds are thriving early in the season, Arroyo has struggled in his first two starts of 2017 and is starting to become impatient with himself.
Arroyo has logged 10 innings over his first two starts of the season but has yielded 11 runs on 13 hits over that span, including four home runs. He’s struck out just five batters thus far and his ERA sits at an unsightly 9.90, which isn’t exactly what the 40-year old was hoping for when he signed a minor league deal with to return to the Reds this spring. Perhaps most bothersome for him, he and the Reds have taken a loss in each of his starts.
“I feel like I’ve got less room for error right now,” Arroyo after taking his second loss of the season Thursday against the Brewers. “My (velocity) is obviously not as good as it used to be. It’s not easy pitching, period, in the big leagues. I don’t feel like I quite have enough to finish guys right now, which is a little bit of the problem.”
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Arroyo is being hard on himself right now, but Reds manager Bryan Price is choosing to be patient with the veteran, knowing he’s had a long road back from injury and has a lot of rust to shake off after sitting out more than two full seasons with elbow trouble.
“With Bronson, the question is he’s coming off two-and-a-half years of baseball inactivity for the most part, as far as competing,” Price said. “I think that deserves the right for him to have some starts under his belt to really evaluate what he’s got left after he’s pitched for a while as opposed to assessing him like he’s a rookie that might not be ready to be here.”
Of course, at this point in the season, the Reds don’t have much of a choice but to stick with Arroyo in the rotation. Anthony DeSclfani and Homer Bailey both started the season on the DL and neither appears to be all that close to returning. Also, the Reds recently placed Rookie Davis on the DL, so at the moment, they have just four starters including Arroyo.
Fortunately, Arroyo feels encouraged that his second start of the season on Thursday went better than his first, making him believe that he’s moving in the right direction.
“I felt a little bit stronger today than I did last time out,” Arroyo said Thursday. “I’m just hoping it keeps progressing in that direction. I know Bryan’s not discouraged just yet.”
Nevertheless, Arroyo remains frustrated that he’s not executing pitches the way he was able to do earlier in his career. He also doesn’t want to be the one who’s holding back his team, especially since the upstart Reds have shown some potential early in the season.
“The next two times out, if I don’t see something a little bit crisper and able to keep us in the ballgame a little bit better, maybe you’re at a dead end street,” Arroyo said. “Baseball is a game — every sport at this level — you’re getting paid to produce, man. It’s got to get a little bit better a little quicker.”