Last Friday, as MLB rosters expanded to 40, the Reds called up Ariel Hernandez and Zach Vincej. Tomorrow, the Reds will call up four more pitchers, two lefties and two righties:
RHP Rookie Davis, LHP Amir Garrett, LHP Cody Reed, RHP Jackson Stephens. None of these names are particularly surprising, as all four will have a chance to earn a spot in the Reds starting rotation next spring.
Davis earned a spot in that rotation as the Reds broke camp this year only to see injuries derail his season. With the Reds, Davis is an ugly 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA. Lately, however, Davis has returned to form at Triple-A Louisville; in his last five starts, he has struck out 30 batters and walked just one. Davis is still only 24 years-old, so he’s still in the mix.
I had higher hopes for Reed than any of the young starting pitching prospects at 2017’s outset and, frankly, he has done little to justify that confidence. Also just 24 years-old, Reed was 1-1 with a 6.43 ERA for the Reds before being sent back to Triple-A back in May. He has a 3.55 ERA at Louisville, which sounds okay, but he continues to struggle with command: 102 strikeouts, 61 walks in 106.1 innings pitched. Until he learns to throw strikes on a regular basis, Reed is going to remain inconsistent.
April seems like a long time ago for Garrett. Remember how well he started the season? In the first three starts of his big league career, Garrett pitched at least six innings each time and posted a 1.83 ERA. On April 19, he struck out 12 and walked just one in a 7-inning outing against the Baltimore Orioles, and it appeared that Garrett was well on his way to a Rookie of the Year campaign.
Five days later, he gave up ten runs in 3.1 innings, and it has been downhill ever since. He was sent down to Louisville, brought back, and by the time he was sent to Triple-A for good, Garrett was 3-6 with a 7.41 ERA.
At Louisville, it has been more of the same: 2-4 with a 5.72 ERA. Garrett has been so spectacularly inconsistent at Triple-A — after largely dominating the minors in every previous season — that you had to wonder whether he’s been injured this entire time. His last two starts, however, in which he allowed a total of two runs, have been pretty good. Yesterday, Garrett tossed a 7-inning shutout in which he struck out 10 and walked just one. It’ll be interesting to get another look at him in a Reds uniform before next season. At age 25, he’s a little older than the Reds of the crop of young pitchers. It’s time for Garrett to show us what he is going to be.
On the one hand, Stephens hasn’t been great at Louisville this season: 7-10, 4.92 ERA.
On the other hand, he’s just 23, so Stephens is really young for the league. Plus, he was pretty good at Single-A and Double-A in the two previous seasons, so he’s making his way through the system pretty quickly for a 2012 18th-round draft pick. And he did have a fairly effective start in his only big league appearance, back on July 1 against the Cubs: five innings, three runs allowed on six hits, eight strikeouts, one walk.
Stephens has the biggest hill to climb to get into the conversation for the 2018 Opening Day rotation, but the Reds clearly have him on the radar. He’s on the 40-man roster, so the only harm in bringing him up for the rest of this season is a few extra bucks in the kid’s pocket. It’s a win-win.