Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reds' setup men fail to get opponents out

By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer

ST. LOUIS - When Todd Jones was traded to Philadelphia, Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said Gabe White and John Riedling would move into the primary setup role.

Things haven't exactly worked out as planned.

Reds starting pitcher Brandon Claussen pitched well Tuesday against the Cardinals and deserved a better fate.
(AP photo)
Since the Jones trade July 31, White had a 12.38 ERA in six appearances entering Tuesday, and Riedling had a 16.87 ERA in four games.

Those results left Reds manager Dave Miley searching for an eighth-inning solution going into Tuesday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Not so specifically the eighth (inning)," Miley said, "but we need somebody to take the bull by the horns."

A pair of rookies - Ryan Wagner and Joe Valentine - will get shots at the role as the Reds continue to look toward the future.

Wagner, last year's No. 1 pick, has had a rough year overall. He entered Tuesday with a 2-1 record and a 5.50 ERA. But he has been very good lately in a low-pressure role. Since Jones' trade, in fact, he has a 2.13 ERA over 11 appearances.

Valentine, obtained in the Jose Guillen trade with Oakland a year ago, was recalled from Triple-A Louisville when Paul Wilson went to the disabled list. Going into Tuesday, Valentine had pitched once since his recall - throwing two perfect innings.

Valentine pitched twice for the Reds early this year and allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. But he pitched well in his return to Louisville: 5-4 with a 3.33 ERA.

Wagner, 22, and Valentine, 24, have the stuff to be successful in the majors. It's largely a matter of whether they can handle the pressure.

The setup role isn't just open for 2005 - it's open for the rest of '04. Monday's 10-5 loss here showed that.

After the Reds fought back to get the score to 4-3, the Cardinals scored twice in the seventh and four times in the eighth.

"We've got to have someone who on a consistent basis can put a zero up on the board," Miley said.



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