Reds-Cubs preview

CHICAGO — The Cincinnati Reds hope new pitching coaches will help address what's ailing a revolving door staff.

The Reds dismissed pitching coach Mark Riggins prior to Monday's series opener against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and elevated bullpen coach Mack Jenkins into the role.

They'll also bring up Triple-A Louisville pitching coach Ted Power to oversee the Reds bullpen.

The changes came after the Reds had used 27 different pitchers — including 12 starters — since Opening Day with poor collective results for a staff ranked at or near the bottom in major league pitching categories.

“I wish it was a different situation for Mack to enter,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “If we put everything else aside and just look at Mack as a pitching coach, I don't think there's any question he's ready to do this job. He knows the organization, he's extremely invested in all the players and his familiarity here gives him a real step up.”

The problem for the Reds is translating minor league success to the next level.

“The challenges that we've had at the end of last year and this year is transitioning the pitchers that are pitching well in Triple-A to actually pitching well in the major leagues,” Price said. “So perhaps the heads together (Jenkins and Power) will allow us to get to a place where we can get over some of these hurdles.”

Cellar-dwelling Cincinnati (30-54) has lost 15 of its last 19 games after Monday's 10-4 setback to the Central Division-leading Cubs.

Entering Monday, the Reds had the league's worst team ERA (5.51), walked the most batters (364), were 24th in strikeouts (298), 26th in opponents' batting average (.272) and had the fewest shutouts (one).

“The numbers aren't good,” Price said.

Riggins, 59, was in his first season on the club's big league staff. He spent the previous four as the Reds' minor league pitching coordinator.

The Cubs have also had some pitching worries with starters delivering a 6.60 ERA during a 4-7 road trip, including a four-game sweep by the New York Mets that saw rocky outings by reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and left-hander Jon Lester, named the National League Pitcher of the Month for June.

But Kyle Hendricks helped allay worries about any Cubs free fall as he scattered four hits and did not allow an earned run over 5 1/3 innings as Chicago snapped a four-game losing streak with Monday's victory.

The return date for outfielder and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler from the disabled list remains up in the air.

Fowler, who was sidelined last month with a right hamstring strain, could be voted an All-Star Game starter but has to be activated by week's end in order to play.

“It's not impossible to think that it can be by the end of this week,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “But it's a day-to-day thing. He's getting better, he's feeling well.”

The series continues with day games on Tuesday and Wednesday before an off-day for the Reds.

The Cubs, meanwhile, host the Braves on Thursday in a makeup of a April 30 rainout. It's part of a run of 24 consecutive games that will carry Chicago into the All-Star break.