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Reds continue to trust young arms as they face Tigers

Sep 5, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Connor Phillips (34) pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

In the heat of a wild-card chase, the Cincinnati Reds are relying on some young arms.

Connor Phillips made his major league debut last week and he’ll receive his second start during the middle game of a three-game series in Detroit on Wednesday.

In his debut against Seattle on Sept. 5, Phillips gave up five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also recorded seven strikeouts.

Prior to his call-up, Phillips racked up 154 strikeouts in 25 minor league appearances, spanning 105 innings.

The runs he allowed against the Mariners came on long balls. Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer and Julio Rodriguez blasted a three-run shot.

“We were very happy, very impressed,” Reds manager David Bell said of the 22-year-old right-hander. “He gave up a couple of home runs to a couple of really great hitters, hot hitters as well. … Everything he did (last week) was a great experience that he can continue to build on.”

The Tigers (66-78) will counter with their ace, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (11-7, 3.18). Rodriguez has won both of his September starts.

He held the Chicago White Sox to one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings on Sept. 1, then limited the New York Yankees to three runs and four hits in six innings last Thursday. Rodriguez wasn’t sharp in that one, as he tied a season high by issuing four walks.

Rodriguez has faced the Reds only once in his career, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings in 2017 as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

Bell moved rookie Elly De La Cruz to the No. 7 spot in the batting order on Tuesday. De La Cruz has been in a prolonged slump. He hit .198 in August and was batting .162 in September entering the series.

“It’s all based on performance,” Bell told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The main thing is that Elly’s still in our lineup. He’s still playing shortstop and still able to impact the game in just as many ways. I know the lineup is important, but he’s in there and that’s all that really matters.”

De La Cruz had a hit, a walk and two runs scored in Tuesday’s 6-5, 10-inning win, improving the Reds’ record to 75-71. De La Cruz went hitless his previous four games.

“Elly’s doing a great job of handling everything,” Bell said. “But he’s having the normal ups and downs that all players have. For today it made sense. But I could easily see Elly back at the top of the order at any point.”

The Tigers’ offense on Tuesday was led by Andy Ibanez, who homered and drove in two runs. His long ball was his 11th of the season.

“He’s really handled left-handed pitchers of late,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s nice to see him contribute. He’s an easy guy to root for.”

Kerry Carpenter also drove in two runs but former Tiger Buck Farmer struck him out in the 10th to finish off Cincinnati’s victory.

–Field Level Media