Mahle finally saw his first spring training action Saturday against the Padres, allowing two earned runs over 1.2 innings, allowing a two-run homer by Jason Vosler after a walk. He struck out four in the outing. He previously had thrown two live batting practice sessions, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. Mahle is stuck developing as a starter without a projected opening in the rotation, following the Reds' signing of Wade Miley. He's working on a slider to get him out of tricky situations after struggling last year. "I didn't have an out pitch," Mahle said. "A lot of times I got hurt, it was [with] two strikes. I would try to throw a breaking ball under the zone. I just didn't have that pitch, and it hurt me over and over again. I started throwing a slider for right now. I'm able to do that with a slider. Until the curve can get big enough to where it starts out on the same plane and goes under the zone, that's going to be my slider." Last year Mahle relied mostly on a four-seamer (57.1% of the time according to Statcast) and a curve (23.2%), and didn't throw a slider last year despite throwing it 20% of the time in 2018.
Mahle (3-12) threw five shutout frames while allowing three hits and zero walks with five strikeouts to earn a victory against the Pirates on Sunday. The 24-year-old took full advantage of starting in place of a sick Trevor Bauer in the season finale. Pitching on three-days rest, he threw five scoreless innings for the first time since May 18. Mahle ends the season with a 3-12 record, 5.14 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 129.2 innings this season.
Mahle will make one more start Sunday against the Pirates after Trevor Bauer was scratched due to illness, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Mahle will be pitching on just three days' rest, though he only lasted 2.1 innings in his start Wednesday against the Brewers. He'll get a shot to improve on his 5.34 season ERA, though it's not clear if he'll pitch long enough to get a chance at his third win of the year.
Mahle (2-12) allowed eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out one across 2.1 innings to take the loss Wednesday against the Brewers. Mahle was sunk by the long ball as he allowed three home runs, which accounted for six of his runs. The start was a microcosm of Mahle's campaign, as he's now allowing 1.8 HR/9 in 24 starts. On the other hand, he's also shown flashes of brilliance, most recently in his last start when he allowed just one earned run on one hit across six innings against the Cubs. As a result of the ups and downs, Mahle will end the season with 5.34 ERA and 1.34 WHIP across 124.2 innings.
Mahle didn't factor into the decision in Wednesday's 3-2 extra-inning win over the Cubs, giving up one run on one hit and two walks over six innings. He struck out three. The right-hander threw 75 pitches (42 strikes) in one of his better recent efforts, but Mahle had no chance at picking up his third win of the year in a game that went to 10 innings. He'll carry a 4.93 ERA and 123:31 K:BB through 122.1 innings into what should be his final start of the season, at home against the Brewers on Sept. 26.
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