Lucas Sims role in 2020, as long as he’s still with the Cincinnati Reds, is going to be in the bullpen according to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. This isn’t Earth shattering news by any stretch of the imagination, of course. The Reds have a rotation that’s already full, with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Wade Miley. And there’s also Tyler Mahle in the background as the 6th option if needed.

Sims was mostly a starter in the minor leagues, but when he was with Cincinnati in the Major Leagues last season, he pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen. He would made four starts, but made another 20 relief appearances during the season. Sims, who will turn 26 in May, is out of options and can’t be sent to the minor leagues unless he passes through waivers first.

During the 2019 season he struck out 57 batters in 43.0 innings pitched – a strong rate, but he also walked 19 batters in that stretch. Without room in the rotation, he’s going to be battling for one of the few spots in the bullpen. There’s going to be plenty of options for Cincinnati to look at there, too. Sims won’t be the only player out of options fighting for a spot in the bullpen. While guys like Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson are out of options, they would appear to have spots locked up short of something unforeseen taking place. But left-hander Cody Reed and right-hander Sal Romano are out of options, and unlike the other two guys, may not have spots locked in.

The Robot Umpires are coming. Sort of.

We’ve seen a push for an electronic strikezone for years now. And last year we actually saw Major League Baseball begin to take the steps towards making it happen. The first step was when they made an agreement with the independent Atlantic League to use Trackman to call balls and strikes during their season. Then they used it in some games, also via Trackman, in the Arizona Fall League games. When Major League Baseball and the umpires union came to a new collective bargaining agreement, a part of that was the agreement that they would work together on how to implement an electronic strikezone moving forward.

Early in the week Rob Manfred announced that this spring would see some more electronic strikezone implementation. Just a few hours later the umpires union made sure to point out that this meant that the system would be running in the background and not be used to call balls and strikes during games.

Then it was reported by Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post that the Florida State League would be getting the electronic strikezone in 2020. The Reds Advanced-A affiliate, the Daytona Tortugas, play in the league. Their home stadium, however, will be one of several in the league that will not have the electronic strikezone. A majority of the league will – all of the ballparks in the league that also double as the home stadium for spring training will have the new system installed.

Hunter Greene gives back to baseball, Cincinnati

2017 1st round draft pick Hunter Greene spent time last week to host a baseball camp in Cincinnati. But it was more than just a baseball camp, too. Prior to the baseball portion of the experience for the kids, Greene took them to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center the night before. Brendan Hader of MLB.com covered the event and gives some more insight into how things went. Go check it out.

Former Big Leaguer Phil Hughes and Baseball Cards

While I’m sure there are some of you out there who didn’t collect baseball cards at some point in your lives, I’m going to make a safe assumption that a large majority of you did at some point. Former Major League pitcher Phil Hughes is a big collector. In fact, more than a decade ago, when Hughes was one of the top prospects in baseball but had not yet reached the Major Leagues, I made a trade with him through the mail via a baseball card trading message board. He even offered up some pitching insights. Small, weird world, huh?

Well, these days Hughes is retired from baseball after his arm simply wouldn’t recover enough from injuries. Sadly it’s a tale as old as time. But today he’s now hanging out on YouTube opening up packs of baseball cards (and other types of trading cards). His channel, Phil’s Pulls, has nearly 19,000 subscribers as I type this. The channel has only existed for four months, but he’s already made 61 videos. Andy McCullough wrote about Hughes, and his journey from Major League pitcher to Youtuber at The Athletic early in the week, which is where I found out about this. Just seemed like a cool thing that may interest a few of you.

20 Responses

  1. BK

    Sims looked pretty good in the bullpen last season. His curveball is excellent and provides a different look, too. He may not be a lock, but I think he has an inside track to making the team.

    Similarly, the results have been there for Reed over the last two seasons, but he just couldn’t bounce back from injury in time to contribute in 2019. As a LHP on a team with few other options, he’s got an excellent chance of making the team.

    On the other hand, Romano has lacked consistency in multiple tries at the big league level. The potential is certainly there, but he’s likely the furthest down the depth chart when compared to Sims and Reed. I agree that Garrett and Stephenson should be safe–I’m expecting both to be used in high leverage situations from the start of the season.

    • Jefferson Green

      Great points. Unless Romano finds new effectiveness out of the pen, he is more of a starting rotation candidate on a team that is trying to win down the road. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded, even though the return would be tiny. Otherwise, he needs to clear waivers during the ST cut-downs when teams are all having trouble finding 40-man space, then find more consistency (to build on the bit of success he had late in 2019) in Louisville.

    • CP

      Agreed BK. I see the bullpen in three tiers. With 8 spots available in total.

      Tier 1- Locks (regardless of ST performance): 3 players
      Iglesias
      Garrett
      Lorenzen

      Inside Tracks (Need to perform, but have past performance/stuff/pedigree/experience/ect, giving them an edge): 4 players
      Stephenson
      Sims
      Reed
      Bowman

      Long shots (somebody’s gotta win that last spot or take over for an injury):
      Romano
      Kuhnel
      Jones
      DeLeon
      Shaffer
      Thornburg
      Biddle
      Ect.

      I’m going on a limb and guessing bullpen will be:

      Iglesias
      Garrett
      Lorenzen
      Stephenson
      Sims
      Reed
      Bowman
      Jones

      They will try and sneak Reed/DeLeon/Kuhnel back down to AAA for depth for later in the year. You get two LHP’s with this set up, three proven high leverage arms in Iglesias, Garrett & Lorenzen, length in Sims & Lorenzen, upside in Sims/Reed/Jones. Good mix!

      • CFD3000

        I agree with this assessment, with only two minor quibbles. I’d put Robert Stephenson on the “locks” list, and I’d list the 8th spot (and maybe even the seventh) as “TBD”. Unless they’re hurt or traded I’ll be very surprised if Reed and Sims aren’t in the bullpen on Opening Day and the rest of the year. But there are enough other pitchers vying for those last two spots that it’s just a wild guess as to who steps up. Bowman and Jones? Perhaps. But several others could have a dominant spring and claim a spot. I’m also hoping that the Sal Romano options situation doesn’t mislead the Reds into giving him a spot in the bullpen unless he’s lights out this spring. Reed and Sims have built a track record at AAA and in Cincinnati and IMO both have a slot to lose. The same is not true for Big Sal. He’s got work to do. But in spite of worries about the bullpen I think it’s solid for 2020 IF (a big if) Iglesias is a stud again.

      • Hotto4Votto

        DeLeon and Kuhnel have options, so they don’t need to be snuck down. They can go up and down throughout the year. Reed is out of options and would have to pass through waivers. But I think he gets a spot in the pen anyway, if healthy.
        Personally, I hope they use DeLeon as a starter in AAA. The further he is removed from TJ surgery the better the results should be, and he did start 15 of 19 games last season in the minors. The bullpen is always an option down the road, but as a former top prospect I’d like to see what he has as a starter.
        Personally, I think Stephenson is more of a lock than “inside track” guy, and Sims and Reed have a leg up even on the other inside track guys. The Reds have brought in some interesting minor league free agents, and there should be healthy competition for the final spots. That’s a good thing.

  2. Hotto4Votto

    Looking at Sims splits as a reliever last year, everything looks pretty good outside of the walk rate. He walked 15 guys in 26.1 innings. He also struck out 40 batters in those same innings, while allowing just a .683 OPS as a reliever. Sort out that walks (he only gave up 4 in 16.2 IP as a starter) and I see a pretty good reliever.

  3. IndyRedsFan

    Doug,

    thanks for including the Hunter Greene link. It’s a great reminder about what a classy kid this guy is. There is no reason he has to do this sort of thing, but he does.

    Particularly inspiring is that he includes an education component, and stresses “education first”.

    I don’t know how anyone can not root for this guy.

    • TR

      The extracurricular activities of Hunter Greene indicates he has a caring, strong family.

  4. SteveLV

    Wasn’t the Atlantic League where the mound was going to be moved back mid-year? Did that actually happen? I don’t remember seeing anything about it after an initial announcement.

    • Doug Gray

      That was the original plan. It was scheduled to happen after their “midseason” break. But it never happened and was scrapped.

  5. TR

    Hunter Greene has it all together. A top baseball talent and a young man who values history and education. His baseball camp is a great way to develop fans.

  6. Old-school

    Nightingale points out that Sims K rate over 13 per 9 IP is Chapmanesque. He also gets out lefties. Nice job by the FO for Adam Duvall.

    Reds FO also a nice job not mortgaging the future but spending $100 million to improve. If Greene bounces back and Lodolo has a strong season, the Reds could be sitting on a dominant young lefty/righty SP combination a year from now pushing into the upper minors.

  7. CI3J

    So the Reds’ bullpen, as it stands right now:

    CL Iggy
    RP Lorenzen
    LP Garrett
    LP Reed
    RP Sims
    RP BobSteve

    Plenty of internal options for the last spot. Romano, Bowman, Mahle, Kuhnel, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

    I would personally like to see the Reds take a flier on Arodys Vizcaino. He has been a solid back of the bullpen arm for a few years now, although he’s coming off shoulder surgery. He seems like a good candidate to sign and stash while he rehabs, and then when he’s ready, suddenly the Reds would have a fresh, elite arm in their bullpen. He could also probably be signed for fairly cheap.

    The Reds have plenty of options for the last spot, but Vizcaino seems like exactly the kind of low risk/high reward signing the Reds should make.

    • AirborneJayJay

      13 position players and 13 pitchers will make for an 8 man bullpen. So 2 spots open. Bowman probably with the inside track for 1 spit. I have a feeling Nate Jones is going to play a role.

  8. AirborneJayJay

    Texas Rangers GM said tonight that if Texas did something else it would more likely be via a trade rather than a free agent signing.
    Castellanos is falling more into the laps of the Reds.
    It’s happening !

    • Greenfield Red

      Has anyone signed a 1 year deal with a team that included a “no qualifying offer” clause? This would appear to be a good candidate for such.

      • Doug Gray

        That probably isn’t allowed in the CBA.

    • Bdh

      Definitely like the reds chances more than I did a week ago. If Senzel could’ve worked out at Shortstop then this would work out so much better but I would guess if he signs it would bump Aquino to AAA to start the year.

  9. KalvoskiCouldHit

    In other weekend news, two guys the Reds traded in the Puig deal last year were listed on MLB’s Top 100 Prospect list (Gray and Downs). Had that trade never happened, there is no question Lindor would be a Red today. The two of them may have gotten it done (along with a fringe player or two). That has to haunt the front office as they now shift to “go” mode (whereas last year was a shift to “excitement” mode).

  10. CP

    New report has the Reds listed as the new leader to sign Castellanos. Could be very speculative considering it even says there is only one source at this point, but it least they are trying to bring in difference making talent still. Outfield logjam gets even worse with this, but I think Aquino still has an option, so he can start the year in AAA if need be. If he continues to rake in AAA to start the year he is ready to fill in for injury or poor performance of someone else. Worst case scenario he gains more trade value.

    Not my money so I say go spend it!! 🙂

    Vs RHP’s

    Shogo- RF
    Votto- 1B
    Suarez- 3B
    Moose- 2B
    Senzel- CF
    Winker- LF
    Galvis- SS
    Barnhart- C

    Vs LHP-

    Shogo- RF
    Votto- 1B
    Suarez- 3B
    Moose- 2B
    Castellanos- LF
    Senzel- CF
    Galvis- SS
    Barnhart- C

    Still wish we could cash in the OF glut to better our SS situation, but that lineup will still put up a good amount of runs and win more often than not with the SP’s we got.