He came out of the bullpen, throwing one inning and striking out all three batters he faced to help the Reds come out with a 7-4 victory.
Reds manager David Bell was impressed with Givens in his first outing with the team.
“Can’t get much better than that for any inning, you strike out the side,” he said. “It’s a different look. He’s had a lot of success pitching in those situations, so to go to a new team and be able to have a first outing like that, I think that’s really important to him.”
The next day he made another appearance out of the bullpen against the New York Mets.
Givens put together another impressive inning as he struck out one and gave up one hit.
So far, Givens has come in and made his presence known on the field.
When Givens found out he was traded to Cincinnati, it was something he was looking forward to.
“Getting traded to the Reds, I was pretty excited,” Givens told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know a lot of the boys on this team and kind of grew up with most of them. I’m excited to make this playoff push.”
Givens possesses a high level fastball ranging in the mid-90s and a potent slider and changeup.
He’s been effective all season and he’s one pitcher you want in your bullpen.
Our MLBbro had a 2.73 ERA this season during his time with the Rockies and he only allowed one run when he pitched away from Coors Field.
No matter what team he is on, Givens always puts in work on the mound. He’s a legit force in relief.
“I don’t treat (anything) differently,” he said. “I still go out there and perform and try to win ball games. Regardless of place in the standings with the Rockies, we were really competitive.”
“To have that feeling to be able to compete for another playoff like my rookie year is really exciting,” Givens said. “Really excited with the ball team. Really excited with the whole organization. I’m ready to go compete and win a World Series.”
This is an important time in the season for teams competing for a playoff push.
Let’s just say that Givens is ready to help make an impact for the Reds and they made a good move acquiring the right-handed pitcher.
Through 33 games this season he has an ERA of 2.56 with a 3-2 record and 38 strikeouts.
In his last five appearances, he has not given up an earned run and he now holds the second-lowest ERA of any reliever on the Reds roster.
Givens is one MLBbro you need to keep an eye on during this second half of the season because he’s going to be an important piece to the Reds pitching staff.
He walked the first batter he faced on four straight pitches and then gave up a home run to the second batter he faced.
So you see, it was one of those nights for Hearn. But that’s the game and it happens. It’s all about how you bounce back from adversity.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward did not waste any time pulling Hearn out of the game.
“He just didn’t have good command,” Woodward told The Dallas Morning News. “He was all over the place.”
Going into the game, Woodward was not expecting Hearn to pitch more than a few innings or even solidify himself as a starter. Hearn only made one other start during his career and that came in 2019. It was his major league debut and he only recorded one out before he was pulled.
So for Hearn, it seems like coming out of the bullpen is more of his thing. But who knows, he may get another opportunity to start during the season and he might have a totally different outing.
June has not been a good month for the 26-year-old on the mound as he finished the month with a 9.58 ERA in seven appearances.
But in May, the 26-year-old was an effective reliever out of the bullpen. He made eight appearances during the month and had one game where he allowed the opposing team to score.
He finished May with a 1.93 ERA through 14 innings of work and picked up two wins. Hearn has a 2-2 record through 23 games and an ERA of 5.75 with 42 strikeouts. He had the streets of Arlington buzzing.
Being a relief pitcher in baseball has to be the greatest job in the world. Observing the action from the bullpen, you have one of the best views in sports to watch the greatest game ever created.
Despite that, it comes with a high price as the pressure is on 100 percent, the second you enter the game.
After just the first half of the season, a few of our MLBbro relievers have become diamonds under the pressure.
Here is my #HighFive list of a few current black relievers and how they have fared this season.
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slower start than expected this season after posting a 0.33 ERA in 2020, but has recently stemmed the tide and appears to be back to his dominant self. He currently has a 3.55 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 innings.
In six appearances during June, he has only given up one run while striking out 11. He also has only given up more than two hits in an appearance three times this year and has not allowed a home run since April 24.
The Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central. Williams will need to continue to lock the 7th and 8th innings down in order to get the ball to Brewers’ closer Josh Hader who is one of the filthiest in all of baseball.
David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers
Black Ace Club Member, five-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion David Price is taking on a new challenge this season as he is coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers for the first time since his World Series run during his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price is one of the most accomplished Black starters in the history of baseball and for sure in the current generation. His 20-win season in 2012 gave him the green light to enter the Black Ace fraternity but with the Dodgers being loaded with pitching options it was thought that Price would be best used out of the bullpen.
His first two outings this year were a little shaky, but we’ll take that as time spent getting used to his new role. After giving up five runs in his first two starts, only four runners have scored in 14 appearances.
Price has an ERA of 3.74 with 24 strikeouts and a 2-0 record, his most recent win coming on Monday after 0.2 innings of scoreless baseball. He is no longer using speed to blow batters away, rather movement and ball placement have led to many ground balls and fly ball outs for him.
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Amir Garrett is literally the biggest reliever in the game. He stands 6-foot-5, 239 pounds, and was suspended earlier this season for seven games after being involved in a benches-clearing brawl against the Chicago Cubs in the beginning of May.
Amir Garrett strikes out Anthony Rizzo, words are exchanged and then both benches clear during the Reds and Cubs game. pic.twitter.com/dGX508V2Gh
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) May 1, 2021
He saw struggles before his return, but when he arrived he came with a vengeance, allowing only three runs in eight appearances and 10 strikeouts for the rest of May.
After a bump in the road to start June, Garrett has still been a great anchor for the Reds’ bullpen. In his last four games, he has given up one run in three innings and has struck out six. It may take a while to bring his 8.34 ERA down to more of a respectable number. He’ll need to stay dominant and keep his focus on one start at a time.
Taylor Hearn and Demarcus Evans, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are the only bullpen in baseball with multiple Black relievers. One throws for the left side and the other the right, but both get it done by throwing flames in Texas’ heat.
Hearn made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and has had a Jekyll and Hyde beginning to the first three months of the season. After a few April struggles, he seemed to turn it around in May as he posted a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.
As the calendar turned to June, Hearns arrow shifted in a downward direction. He has given up six runs in six innings, three of them being home runs.
Evans made his MLB debut May 25 and has instantly become one of the team’s best relievers. He won the team’s Minor League Reliever of the Year award for two straight seasons and he’s showing the batters in the Majors are not much tougher. In 8.1 innings, he has only given up two runs and has 11 strikeouts with a 2.16 ERA.
Resilience is the common characteristic found in the makeup of strong MLB relievers. Evans has that. He’s got guts too.
With the Rangers appearing to be in seller mode as the trade deadline inches closer, Hearn and Evans have the chance to showcase their abilities to be stable pieces in the bullpen for years to come.
Relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress has been out of baseball since his release from the Washington Nationals in March.
Before his initial release, Jeffress and the Nationals had agreed to a minor league contract ahead of spring training. The team informed him that he would be allowed to compete for a spot in the bullpen ahead of Opening Day.
To his surprise, the Nat’s relieved him of his duties after only 13 days of service, which raised eyebrows across the league. Fans and pundits wanted to know the reasoning behind the quick release as the start of the season was less than a month away.
After displaying such dominance with the Chicago Cubs, in 2020, the 33-year-old right-hand reliever had teams vying for his services in the offseason.
Saving eight games for the Cubs, he finished the pandemic shortened season with an ERA of 1.54 in 23 1/3 innings pitched. You can’t have talent like that sitting on the sidelines. No way.
His time in the Nation’s Capital is still head-scratching for most, like the opportunity to showcase his talents became null and void in the blink of an eye.
Could the incidents in his dark checkered past have come to light?
After achieving every baseball player’s dream of being drafted to the league in 2006, Jeffress has found himself in multiple run-ins with the law.
According to reports, he received suspensions for violating Minor League Baseball’s substance abuse policy in 2007, causing him to serve 50 games. He served 100 games in 2009 for the same offense. Both incidents did not involve performance-enhancing drugs.
During his time with the Kansas City Royals, authorities received a call for domestic violence, disorderly conduct, assault, and criminal damage from his then-girlfriend as both parties engaged in an argument that escalated. The plaintiff later dropped all the charges for this incident.
In 2018 Jeffress pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated during his stint with the Texas Rangers during the 2016 season. He received a sentence of three days in jail, in which he received credit for time served.
In July of the same year, Jeffress made his first career All-Star team. While living up to the nickname Bread & Butter, he served up cats as he achieved an ERA of 0,99 while also adding a 0.84 WHIP in 44 mound appearances.
Jeffress told MLB.com about the accomplishment, “It just means that I know I can overcome anything that I go through because I have been through so much. To start the year with a great first half, and to be in this moment right now, and words can’t express how I feel.”
He went on to say, “All the guys believed in me, and they knew from the first day that the results came out that I should have been on there. It is the fact that they stuck behind me. Just kept believing in me and kept giving me advice saying, ‘Continue doing what you are doing, and people will notice your ability.”
And notice is what Washington did when they signed Jeffress this offseason. The organization knew of his past and still gave him a contract.
Front Office Executive/General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke on the situation by providing a very indeterminate response for the quick release by saying it was due to a “personal matter.”
Jeffress took to Twitter to express his frustration over the situation while also pointing the blame at his former agent when he said, “The fact that my ex-agent has ruined my chances on playing this season is killing me. I want to sign with anyone but going home would be a blessing.”
Home for what I believe should be the Milwaukee Brewers as this is the franchise Jeffress had his best years with. With the Brew Crew, his career ERA is 2.66 and 4.76 everywhere else.
We understand that the Brewers have the reigning National League Rookie of the year/National League Reliever of the year award winner Devin Williams. Still, you can never have too much of a good thing, and looking at the numbers, Jeffress would be a perfect fit to get them over the hump.
Reliever Keynan Middleton is back, and the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen has to be happy.
Middleton, who had been out since May 5 with a strained bicep, looked strong in his return on Friday night against the San Diego Padres. In fact, the righthander looked a lot like the budding young talent the Mariners had hoped to be getting this offseason.
Middleton pitched one scoreless inning with a walk in a losing effort for the Mariners. But his strong appearance is another sign that the promising pitcher is returning to pre-Tommy John form.
Once dubbed the closer of the future for the Los Angeles Angels organization, Middleton has shown flashes of dominance out the pen.
During the 2020 season, the average velocity of his fastball returned to pre-TJ form (97.1) while he had also added four mph to his slider and changeup. Despite his return to form physically, the Angels decided to cut ties with the promising reliever this offseason, which led to the Oregon native heading back to the Pacific Northwest.
Now in Seattle, Middleton has been able to showcase the velocity and spin that many in the Angels’ organization were unsure was back for good.
As a result of his recent success, many around the Mariners’ organization think he may force manager Scott Servais into a tough decision.
“The returned fastball velocity is one thing — Middleton probably needs it if he hopes to be a solid reliever,” writes SB Nation’s Michael Ajeto. “But an improved slider is his second prerequisite if he hopes to exist in the form of a potent, dominant reliever … If Middleton continues to surge with his fastball velocity and slider, he may add to that. And within a matter of weeks, that may mean putting Rafael Montero out of a job.”
The Black Relief Pitcher
The emergence of Middleton as a dominant reliever would place him amongst a very small distinguished group. The majority of conversations surrounding the lack of Black pitchers in the major league have focused strictly on starting pitching, but there has been little attention given to the lack of Black relief pitchers.
We rightfully speak of the Black Aces with reverence, but when we begin to speak of legendary Black relievers, most fans simply don’t know where to begin. We remember names like Flash Gordon and Lee Smith, but that’s where most conversations end.
This lack of representation in bullpens across the sport is why Middleton’s resurgence is so important. Gordon and Smith are both Top 100 all-time in saves, yet are barely mentioned when we speak of the greatest relievers of all time.
At just 27 years old, Middleton has the potential to build a reputation as one of the best relievers in the game. Boasting a 3.86 ERA with a .86 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings, all the tools are there.
Only time will tell if he can put it all together, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on him here at MLBbro.com.