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Maurer shuts down Reds, better spring than Pineda?

By Shannon Drayer

Brandon Maurer may have locked up a spot in the starting rotation today if he hasn't done so already.

Maurer threw 90 pitches over 5 innings and gave up no runs on 6 hits, walked 1 and struck out 7 all while lowering his spring ERA to 0.90.

He had runners on in every inning but not one crossed the plate. A double play, flyout, and 3 strikeouts, one of which was Joey Votto with a runner on third, ended each inning.

Maurer has impressed at every step of the way but after the game Eric Wedge refused to tip his hand about the rotation.

"For him to pitch the way he pitched and to settle in and have the time he had on the bench today (the offense kept him on the bench hammering out 16 runs) and go out there and still be effective was very impressive."

Impressive has been the word most associated with Maurer this camp. Just how impressive a spring has he had? Check out these two lines.

17 IP 14 H 4 ER 6 BB 15 K 2.12 ERA

20 IP 19 H 2 ER 7 BB 22K 0.90 ERA

The line on the bottom is Maurer's this spring. The line on the top is Michael Pineda's from the spring of 2011. You remember, the year of "Oh...That stank!" from Dave Niehaus. Very few thought Jack Zduriencik would bring Pineda north that spring but he made it impossible that year for them to refuse him. Maurer's numbers are better.

Now of course we are looking at two different pitchers and there is little question that Pineda's stuff was better but Maurer's is good and he knows how to use it. He doesn't need another pitch. He has 4-5 finished pitches and he knows how to get hitters out. He has faced big leaguer after big leaguer and has not backed down. Coming into the spring we said that Taijuan Walker would need to pull a Pineda to make this rotation. Well it looks like Maurer has done it and done it with three more professional seasons under his belt. In other words, he looks ready.

After the game Wedge addressed the Ramirez situation that I have laid out throughout the day. There was some mystery when Wedge said that he was slated to follow Felix Wednesday.

"We have to build him back up," he said. "When we lost that time we had him up to five or six innings before but it has been awhile so we had him throw a bullpen the other day and we will get him back out there. It is just a matter of taking care of him."

I think Wedge assumed that it was a known fact that Ramirez had missed time. Truth be told there was nothing about that before this post from earlier today. It seems highly unlikely that they will rush to build Ramirez up at this point and he most likely will start in AAA.

The competition for the final rotation spots continues tomorrow when Jeremy Bonderman takes the hill scheduled to throw 90 pitches.

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