In yesterday’s game preview, we shared a tweet from Joel Luckhaupt which showed the recent performance by Reds starting pitchers under the age of 25. In the wake of Sal Romano’s fantastic 8-inning, 6-strikeout, 0-walk performance Saturday, Luckhaupt updated his statistics this morning:

There was a point in time this season that we wouldn’t have believed that was possible, for two reasons:

1) Most of the starts were going to pitchers over that age, and
2) Often when a youngster got a chance to start, he got hammered.

What the above tweet demonstrates is that the “sorting” that was the alleged objective of this season has been largely successful. Luis Castillo, Romano and perhaps Tyler Mahle have sorted themselves ahead of pitchers like Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Cody Reed (all of whom started the year on the major league pitching staff) in the internal pecking order – presuming Romano continues pitching well in his remaining starts this season.

Many Redleg Nation readers have been critical of the front office on many fronts, but it is time to give some credit where credit is due. Dick Williams has said there is a plan and has to some extent revealed the plan to fans. As a reminder, here is a roadmap of what the Houston Astros — who had their own similar rebuilding plan — went through to get to the point of a perennial contender. It appears that with two weeks remaining in the season, the depth chart for pitchers who will report to Goodyear, Arizona in February 2018 is:

Starters: 1) Castillo; 2) Romano; 3) Homer Bailey; 4 and 5) To be determined
Relievers: 1) Raisel Iglesias; 2) Michael Lorenzen; 3) Wandy Peralta; 4 through 6) To be determined

The names competing for those “to be determined” positions include Mahle, Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Brandon Finnegan, Anthony DeSclafani, Austin Brice, and Kevin Shackleford.

This writer still believes, though, that an established starting pitcher with at least two or three years of team control should be the number one off-season priority. One of the surplus of outfielders could be used as bait in such a swap.

Every appearance for the under-25 crowd is important for the remainder of this season, including today’s afternoon home game in which the Reds are bidding for a sweep against the Pirates. Consider this final two weeks an early 2018 spring training.

Starting Pitchers

Gerrit Cole 187 4.04 3.82 22.8% 6.3%
Robert Stephenson 67.2 5.45 5.03 23.4% 14.6%

Cole is on a very interesting streak. In his last five starts, he has the following numbers:

6.1 innings, 5 runs vs. Dodgers
7 innings, 0 runs vs. Reds
6 innings, 5 runs vs. Reds
8 innings, 0 runs vs. Cubs
6 innings, 5 runs vs. Brewers

If you believe at all in patterns, it would be the time for Cole to blank the Reds over 7 or more innings. This will be his third start against them in three weeks, so he knows the Reds hitters, and they know him. Hopefully Cole’s pattern will be broken today.

Stephenson finds himself in a position where he really needs to shine to keep up with some of his fellow young pitchers who have bypassed him, such as Romano and Mahle. Stephenson had a very good August (3-0, 2.22 ERA), but in September has reverted to control issues (eight walks in nine innings). His strikeout numbers are very good (74 in 67.2 innings), but you watch him, and you realize that at times there is a huge gap between him and the kind of performance Romano gave Saturday (8 innings, 6 strikeouts, 0 walks). Stephenson’s remaining starts this season, including today, are much bigger for him than many fans realize.


It should be all hands on deck today, and there are plenty of hands.

Starting Lineups

Pirates Reds
RF John Jaso RF Jesse Winker
LF Jordan Luplow 3B Eugenio Suarez
CF Andrew McCutchen 1B Joey Votto
1B Josh Bell 2B Scooter Gennett
3B David Freese LF Adam Duvall
SS Jordy Mercer CF Scott Schebler
2B Sean Rodriguez SS Zach Vincej
C Chris Stewart C Tucker Barnhart
P Gerrit Cole P Robert Stephenson

The “other” Zach who plays shortstop gets his first major league start today. Interesting that Manager Bryan Price puts Vincej, known as a good-field, no-hit player, ahead of Tucker Barnhart in the batting order.

News and Notes

A Billy Hamilton update …


Maybe that wrist injury Jesse Winker suffered a couple of years ago is finally healing up …


Drew Storen’s career with the Reds is very likely over. His contract expires at the end of this season …

43 Responses

  1. jazzmanbbfan

    Based on your projections with Lorenzen in the bullpen, do you think that Price/Williams have changed their minds on giving Lorenzen a shot at starting next spring? Lorenzen has expressed that he wants to and early this season Price stated that he would get a chance to do so again but not this season. Or maybe there is the assumption that Lorenzen won’t be able to out pitch some of the other young guys (Castillo, Romano, Mahle, etc.)?

    • Tom Mitsoff

      To me, there is no current indication that will happen. If it was in the plans, I would think Lorenzen would be starting now, in an attempt to “stretch him out” with more innings and to see how he can do as a starter. Now would be the time to do it if one was going to do it. He only has 77 innings pitched this year, so there’s no apparent innings limit or threshold in sight.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        That idea of having Lorenzen and Iglesias (73 innings this year) both near or over 100 innings to maximize their impact never happened, either.

      • hof13

        Although you have to give some credit that Iglesias has pitched more than 1 inning 18 times this year (10 times 2.0 innings). As far as I know, that is more than any other “closer”.

      • Hammer

        He hasn’t exactly had a ton of opportunities that need closing; hopefully that will change next year.

  2. Preach

    I should be on board for the game today. The Bengals have soured my NFL appetite. Plus, my local game options are either the Clowns or Squeelers.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Preach, the Bengals have had the same effect on me. After 42 years of following them game in and game out, I have for the first time begun to question whether that is a good use of my time moving forward. I will always be a fan, but like you, today the NFL schedule is a big so-what for me.

  3. JB WV

    Before the regular season started consensus was that Reed, Garrett, and Stephenson would be the ones entering the rotation at some point. Now we have Castilllo, Mahle, and Big Sal leading the way towards 2018. I generally agree with your takes, Tom, but I’d prefer the Reds to wait through ST next year before considering a trade for another starter. As these three are blossoming now, Desclafani and Finnegan in the background (I know, I know), and the former three will be breaking their backs in the offseason to get better, there’s a good chance the FO won’t need to make a trade. Then if the injury bug or ineffectiveness haunts the staff during ST, they still have the chips to make a move.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I just think if they’re able to get an established starter with two or three years of team control, and a good one, not just a prospect, that’s a potentially above-average rotation. The starting lineup is ready to compete right now. Getting that starter from another team accelerates the rebuild, and not in a bad way. The next big step would be signing Suarez to an extension.

  4. Shchi Cossack

    Check it out!!!

    Jesse Winker leading off and Eugenio Suarez in the #2 hole!!!

    The Old Cossack is PUMPED!!!

    If Cozart was hitting cleanup, I would have found a way to get to the game and watch Bob Stephenson with that lineup behind him today, but Cozart needs those regular days off since Price refused to give him the time off he needed early in the season to keep his leg healthy for the full season.

    • Jim t

      He used him so badl that he has had his best year of his career heading into free agency. I don’t think you’ll find Cozart complaining. Your may be reaching a bit in your criticism of Price


      Price handled Cozart perfectly this season and it shows in his results.

  5. old-school

    Nice write up Tom.

    There is so much uncertainty with Finnegan and Disco and for that matter Bailey, its hard to project anything. Nick outlined the historical trade costs to land a young controllable pitcher and I don’t think the Reds are willing to trade a Senzel or Trammell as the centerpiece. Romano or Mahle have nothing left to prove in the minors and have earned 10 starts out of ST in 2018. Disco has missed basically 2 years. I would seriously consider using him out of the bullpen next year in a structured/scripted way, to build his innings back to 85-100 and ensure his arm can be built back safely- a la Iglesias and Lorenzen in 2016. Bring him back in 2019 as a starter or at least wait till the second half of 2018. It would also appear that Cody Reed is done as a starter( If the Reds didn’t give him 15 starts this year- they never will) and the opportunities are going elsewhere. Stephenson would be the 6th starter and invariably they will need one. Garrett goes to AAA and would be next up if he proves himself

    The other sorting that’s been done is Jose Peraza-apparently. Conventional wisdom is that he has improved his approach and is a better player the last 2 months- yet- that hasn’t translated into more playing time and despite that, he is now a below level replacement player with over 400 at bats, and a very poor wRC+ and in his modest time at shortstop, he has not demonstrated himself to be anything more than average. Like Cody Reed, the Reds aren’t showing he is a core player if he is not being featured now . He is a utility player.

  6. Preach

    Cole with a couple of Ks. Id really like to see us knock him around a bit early

  7. Preach

    7 pitch inning for Bob Steve. Needed that.

  8. Preach

    And Cole responds with 7 pitches of his own. Lots of first pitch swinging today

  9. Preach

    Really glad to see him get Jaso there. That guy is Bill Hall-esque.

  10. james garrett

    Bob with some serious work with 2nd and 3rd and no outs.

  11. Jim t

    If Stephenson would find a bit more consistency throwing strikes he could be dominant. Big if I know but he does show flashes.

  12. Preach

    Cole does not look like hes throwing that hard. A bit of easy gas there

  13. Jim t

    Stephenson just seems to have so much trouble repeating his mechanics. From pitch to pitch he just seems all over the place.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Absolutely. You nailed it. That’s the main reason he has fallen behind Castillo, Romano and maybe Mahle.

  14. james garrett

    I agree but he has nasty stuff which at times seems to be unhittable.

  15. Old-school

    Stephenson’s secondary pitches are outstanding…his change up is unhittable today…
    he’s commanding his slider/ curve against right handed hitters as well.

    If he could command his 2 seam fastball better…he cuts his walks in half….but he is clearly taking a step forward. Looks more poised and confident.

  16. james garrett

    He’s a bad man today.Where is the offense?Come on a few runs for Bob would make it easier.

    • Preach

      Cole didn’t even turn to look. Walks will haunt

  17. Old-school

    Winker Suarez Votto 1/2/3?

    That’s elite.

  18. james garrett

    No doubt about it Old School those 3 guys get on base and have some pop.

    • Old-school

      What the heck…
      Scooter is Paul Bunyan in 2017.
      Rotate him and cozart at 4/5 on matchups.

  19. james garrett

    Remind me to ask for offense earlier.

  20. james garrett

    Walk,homer,walk homer.Both are good.

  21. Broseph

    Is Bryan Price the only person in baseball who doesn’t see Duvall struggling hard lately? He looked like he was about tonosss out that last AB.

    Here this team is trying to find out who will be on the roster in 2018 and Ervin is a prime candidate to get September ABs. Yet we have to watch Duvall just swing himself to death in the second half.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I’m usually pretty good at deciphering those auto edits ot typos, but I was completely lost on tonosss…

  22. Preach

    This is more like it. Now Bob has some wiggle room. Lets see how he does.

  23. Hammer

    If you’re going to try to keep a rally going, why pinch hit with the worst hitter on your roster?

  24. TR

    Fifth sweep of the year for the Reds. Competition is heating up for the 2018 starting rotation.

  25. Jim t

    Using Winker, Suarez and Votto 1,2,3 is a must next year. When Hamilton plays and I think he should be part of a 4 man out field rotation he should hit 8th. Having the pitcher between him and Winker as the game goes on would create a bunch of options for Price. Think of all the pressure it would put on the infielders creeping in for a bunt by the pitcher Plus if he does get in scoring position you have a potential 300 hitter ready to drive him in. Shouldn’t be difficult to get all 4 a bunch of at bats.