Cincinnati Reds: Michael Lorenzen Becoming One of the Best Stories in Baseball

For those who don’t tune into Cincinnati Reds games with regularity these days, you might be missing out on the best story in baseball.

Michael Lorenzen, a 25-year-old Anaheim native is doing a little bit of everything in 2017 for the Cincinnati Reds. While Christian Bethancourt got more attention before the season started for his potential role as a two-way player for the San Diego Padres this year, it is Lorenzen who has been the most successful hitter/pitcher in 2017 (outside of Madison Bumgarner, who might be an alien).

While Lorenzen’s pinch-hit home run this season was an awesome moment – and brought back memories of an incredibly emotional home run from 2016 (seriously, watch this video if you want a good cleansing cry) – Lorenzen has been plenty valuable on the mound, his main spot, in 2017.

In four 2017 relief outings, Lorenzen has gone six shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and walking one. The most intriguing of these outings, however, came on Monday.

With the Reds’ starter Brandon Finnegan losing control of the fourth inning, Lorenzen came into the game with the bases loaded and nobody out, with Cincinnati holding onto a 5-1 lead. Lorenzen got Josh Bell to fly out, Adam Frazier to ground out, and Wade LeBlanc to strike out, dancing out of trouble and maintaining the Reds’ four-run lead. Lorenzen stayed in the game to toss a perfect fifth inning, and then did the same in the sixth, leaving the game with 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, and 3 K – basically a perfect stat line.

Lorenzen, deservedly, got the win, as the Reds bullpen sent down the final 21 Pirate batters in order, taking a 7-1 win over their division rivals. It was the first time a Reds bullpen shut down the final 21 batters of a game in order in the modern era (post-1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and Lorenzen was at the leading edge of the dominance.

For baseball fans who were tuned into the 2016 MLB postseason, it was also highly reminiscent of a certain Cleveland pitcher who made himself the breakout star of last year’s playoffs thanks to his highly flexible role out of the Indians bullpen. So can Michael Lorenzen become the Reds’ version of Andrew Miller?

From Wick Terrell over at Red Reporter:

In essence, Lorenzen played the role of both high-leverage fireman and extended long reliever, and was marvelous in the role.

Of course, that same piece also began with a quote from Lorenzen on how he wanted to rejoin the rotation soon, and when he did he would “never look back.”

For Reds fans hoping for an Andrew Miller of their own, the quote from Lorenzen isn’t the most encouraging sign. Lorenzen has indeed started before – he started 21 of his 27 games as a rookie in 2015 – and he did most of his work as a starter in the minor leagues. Of course, Miller was once a starter himself, and the starter-turned-dominant-reliever seems more common than ever before.

Right now the bigger half of the question doesn’t seem to be whether Lorenzen is capable of being Cincinnati’s version of Andrew Miller, but instead whether he wants to be Cincinnati’s version of Andrew Miller. Reds manager Bryan Price is a rather progressive manager when it comes to pitcher roles, so there’s a good chance Lorenzen may well see some time in both the rotation and the high-leverage fireman role.

One thing is for sure, take two shakes of “Andrew Miller lite,” add a pinch of “possible rotation piece,” throw in some “pinch-hit at bats ending in home runs,” and you’ve got a recipe for the new Most Interesting Man in Cincinnati.

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