CINCINNATI — Bronson Arroyo hasn’t pitched at Great American Ball Park since his final start of the 2013 season. That will change Thursday night when the 40-year-old left-hander faces the Milwaukee Brewers.
Arroyo missed nearly two full seasons following elbow and shoulder surgeries. He’s back with Cincinnati after signing a minor league deal in February and now is being counted on to eat innings and serve as a mentor for a young Reds pitching staff.
“The impact of having Bronson on a young staff will pay dividends,” manager Bryan Price said. “The value of having any experienced pitcher is enormous. It’s the reliability factor and the influence he has on those around him.”
The numbers weren’t good, but Arroyo’s first start on Saturday at St. Louis completed an unlikely comeback for the 13-year veteran. So, despite six earned runs in four innings over 75 pitches in a 10-4 loss, it was a feel-good moment for the Reds.
“It felt like I hadn’t really left the mound,” Arroyo told MLB.com. “You still get those same feelings. It was a battle. It was a grind, man. I didn’t get deep enough in the ballgame to really make a difference. But I felt OK.”
Thursday night will finish off the homecoming for Arroyo, who has his old locker back in the home clubhouse at Great American Ball Park and his familiar uniform No. 61.
Arroyo will face a Brewers club against which he has had decent success, going 16-10 with a 3.54 ERA in 34 appearances (31 starts).
He’ll face right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who’s coming off a solid season debut against the defending world champion Cubs. He gave up one run on four hits in six innings of a 2-1, 11-inning loss on Friday.
Nelson still is perfecting a split-changeup, which he worked on extensively during the spring.
“I like this pitch and the action it has on it,” Nelson told MLB.com. “It gets better the more I throw it. I feel like I have an equal amount of confidence in all of my pitches now.”
Nelson is 2-2 with a 7.20 ERA in five starts at Great American Ball Park. He’s 3-3 with a 5.06 ERA in 11 career appearances against Cincinnati.
Cincinnati has won seven of its last 10 games against the Brewers. The Reds (7-2) have won their first three series for the first time since the 1990 World Series championship season.
Both teams are coming off series sweeps. Milwaukee (4-5) swept a two-game interleague series at Toronto. Cincinnati took three straight at PNC Park.
Scooter Gennett will make his first appearance against his former Brewers teammates. He spent four seasons in Milwaukee. Gennett, who was claimed off waivers during spring training, went 5-for-19 in his first seven games with the Reds. He hit three home runs and drove in eight. He was a consummate Reds killer with the Brewers, batting .295 with five homers and 22 RBIs against them.
Gennett’s dominance against the Reds is nothing compared to Reds first baseman Joey Votto’s dominance of Brewers pitching. In 137 plate appearances against them, Votto has hit .319 with 29 home runs and 94 RBIs. His active 12-game hitting streak against the Brewers is the longest ever against them. Votto is hitting .478 in those 12 games.