Cincinnati moved a struggling Sessa out of the spin and into the bullpen after making his final start on Wednesday in San Diego. He pitched one scoreless inning in relief but allowed three hits in Sunday’s 17-4 loss to the White Sox.
“Sessa has been doing well for a long time, and he’s had a very successful career,” said Reds coach David Bell. “I imagine it would end up somewhere else, but for us, it was just a matter of making a change and looking to make whatever improvement we can make.”
The 31-year-old Sessa, who was earning $2.65 million in 2023, will be a free agent after the season. He was 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA in seven games, including six starts. The right-hander struck out 8.3% of his batter, the lowest rate among 177 pitchers with 75-plus batters faced. 372 batting average against opponents and 14.2% whiff rate were the worst in MLB.
During spring training while competing for the Reds’ rotational position, Sesa played for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. But he was used in only two innings of one game as a reliever, which prompted him to leave the tournament early to return to camp and fight for a spot in the starting five.
In 2022, Cessa made a mid-season switch from reliever to starter and had a 3.77 ERA over his last nine starts. He was unable to find his footing this season as a starter and eventually fell out of favor.
Cessa’s bottom came on April 16, when he allowed 11 earned runs and 14 hits—both career highs—over three innings in a 14–3 loss to the Phillies. Against the Padres in his final start, he gave up three earned runs over 3 1/3 innings pitched but had trouble throwing batters throughout the outing.
The Reds acquired Sessa and lefty Justin Wilson in a deal with the Yankees for a minor league pitcher on July 28, 2021 to boost their fortunes.
At the moment, the club did not consider Cessa better than the current group of relievers.
“We just believe for our team, for everything related to that, that it was the right decision for our team. They’re really tough decisions,” Bell said. “I’m sure we made the right decision, but you definitely give up on something when you make a tough decision like that.”
The Reds’ rotation will be open Thursday, when the club closes its series against the Mets. The leading candidate for the spot is right-handed pitcher Ben Lively, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville along with fellow right-handed pitcher Kevin Herget.
In five games (four starts) for Louisville, Lively was 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA and was scheduled to start for the Bats on Tuesday.
Lively and Herget were both part of the Reds’ series opener against the Mets.
Left-hander Andrew Abbott, ranked No. 10 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, has a 2.05 ERA in six starts between Double-A Chattanooga and Louisville. Since only three of his starts have been at Triple-A, the club is not expected to catapult him into the major leagues this week. But that is something that could happen in the coming weeks if Abbott continues to play well.
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