I didn't get to follow tonight's Reds vs. Pirates game. (I was out a bit late with my son's tee ball game, and I didn't have the luxury of following the game on my iPod Touch while getting the kids to bed since my daughter threw it in her grandmothers drink today. Hopefully it will be all dried out and ready to go tomorrow.) I see that Bronson Arroyo threw a beauty, and the Reds won 4-0 behind home runs by Miguel Cairo and Chris Heisey.
As should be obvious by now, I like to pay attention to how many pitches Reds starters are throwing. Arroyo threw 113, which is still a bit higher than I'd like to see. I can kind of understand at this particular time though. Tonight was game 13 of 20 in a row without an off day for the Reds. During this most recent trip through the rotation, both Cueto and Bailey had to make early exits because of injuries, leaving the bullpen to pick up some extra innings. When the Reds put Bailey on the DL, they quickly called up Enerio Del Rosario to help alleviate some of the bullpen workload. The bullpen workload was enough of a concern that Harang was probably left in an inning longer than he should have been on Monday night. Mike Leake was excellent last night and worked into the eighth, so that helped. But with Arthur Rhodes ailing, Dusty probably still needs to rely more heavily on his starters at this point in time.
For what it's worth, at the same time I've been urging not to overwork the starting staff, redreporter has been looking at how the Reds' best relievers may be being overworked as well. What's left?! Well, there's actually an answer to that. The Reds probably need to be using their lesser relievers a bit more. The commenters correctly cited the fact that the Reds have been in a large number of one-run games and need bigger leads in order to get the lesser relievers opportunities that suit their skills (or lack thereof, I guess). I'd argue that the way to do this is to avoid waiting until your starting pitcher starts to struggle to take him out of the game.
Take Harang on Monday night as an example. After six innings, he'd thrown 101 pitches and the Reds were comfortably in front 7-2. Harang was even due to lead off! It made perfect sense to tell him to hit the showers and let someone else get some work in. Instead, Dusty sent him out to start the seventh. According to the fangraphs game log, the LI (leverage index) was 0.33 when Harang went out to start the seventh. I don't know much about LI, but I get that you want your best pitchers pitching when the LI is high (greater than 1) and your lesser pitchers pitching when it is low (less than 1). Clearly this was a time when one of the lesser guys could have tried to get an inning of work in (and the Reds could have used a pinch hitter the inning before to boot). Instead, Harang started the inning out, tired, and gave way to Del Rosario who entered the game to a 7-4 game with a runner on second and just one out. The LI was 1.23 when Del Rosario took the mound. Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to let Del Rosario try to avoid getting into trouble in the first place, instead of asking him to try to clean up the mess after Harang ran out of gas? I certainly think so.