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The Top 10 Recent Cincinnati Reds Debuts as Starting Pitchers

With Vladimir Gutierrez set to bed on Friday on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds, let’s look at some guys who have debuted as starting pitchers for the Redlegs.

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Vladimir Gutierrez has officially gotten the call and will make his Major League debut on Friday at Wrigley Field. This got me thinking about some recent debuts, as a starting pitcher on the mound, for our Redlegs. Since I am a man of great brevity, here’s the last 10 Reds starting pitcher debuts, ranked in order of how good the debut was.

1.) Amir Garrett
Remember 2017? You probably have blocked most of it from your memory as the Reds were horrible, but six of the 10 debuts on this post happened that year. At the top of this list is a man who now hails from the bullpen (which tells you how much you can learn from a pitcher’s debut). Garrett came up to face the hated St. Louis Cardinals on April 7th, 2017. He tossed six shutout innings while striking out Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina, and the opposing pitcher, former Red Mike Leake. AG allowed just two singles and two walks as the Reds went on to win 2-0. According to the game score metric, that was his best start. As we know, he would be moved to the bullpen later that year.

2.) Tim Adleman
The Red who pitched the most innings in 2017 made his debut a season before that and pitched pretty well. He tossed six innings of two-run ball in Pittsburgh as the Reds beat the Pirates 6-5. Adleman didn’t factor in the decision, but he did strike out six while walking two and allowing three hits, including a homer to Gregory Polanco. Adleman has traveled overseas and back again, since his two years with the Reds, and currently is on the roster in Louisville.

3.) Cody Reed
The promise that was this southpaw, and cornerstone of the Johnny Cueto prospect haul, began to manifest itself (or so we thought) June 18, 2016. Reed pitched seven innings in Houston, striking out nine Astros on his way to a no-decision. He did allow four runs on six hits and two homers, which tempered excitement slightly, but Reed was up and going. He never really went, though, as control was always an issue for him. Five of his next nine starts would see the opposition rack up seven or more hits while he finished his first year in the bigs with a 7.36 ERA. A move to the bullpen seemed to resurrect some value, but he never really panned out like we hoped. He’s down in Florida, now, but not because he retired and moved south.

4.) Jackson Stephens
The first appearance of an obscure former Red! His debut was of the spot start variety against the Cubs, too (thought at Great American Ballpark instead of Wrigley). He pitched five innings while allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits. Though Jon Jay and Willson Contreras took him deep, Stephens struck out eight Cubbies on the day and the Reds won 5-3. And he got the decision. He was sent back down after that start and didn’t resurface until September of that year in the bullpen. Stephens lasted all of two seasons as a member of the Reds and currently is not on a roster for a MLB team. Ironically, his debut was just a smidge better than our next guy…

5.) Luis Castillo
La Piedra just barely makes the top-5 recent MLB debuts with his five innings in our Nation’s Capital. June 23, 2017, Castillo allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers to Brian Goodwin (!) and Anthony Rendon, as well as three other hits, while striking out five. He also issued five free passes on the game. I wish I could say he’s never done that again, but he actually has done it six total times (the most he’s issued in a game were six in Houston on June 17, 2019 in a game that he got the win). We’re just hoping he figures out whatever it is he hasn’t figured out yet, in 2021, as the Reds need him at his best.

6.) Tyler Mahle
His first start didn’t set the world on fire, but Mahle has certainly come around since then. On August 27, 2017, Mahle debuted at GABP against the pirates and pitched five innings and allowing three runs. He managed to strike out five, but he issued four walks and allowed four hits. What’s interesting is he got three more starts that year, two of which he did not allow a run in his time on the mound. He’s been the Reds best pitcher in 2021, thus far.

7.) Tim Melville
Who? You heard me. Now you’re going to look up this guy and the next guy on this list and it might be debatable, but Melville actually had a positive Win Probability added for this start, so that’s why I give a four-inning outing the nod over a five-inning variety. April 10, 2016, Melville tossed four innings at GABP against the pirates and allowed just a solo homer, as far as the scoreboard goes. Now, he did give up five hits and four walks, but managed to tip toe around those and also strike out five. He would pitch two more games as a Red and total five more innings.

8.) Robert Stephenson
That’s right. Tim Melville beat out BobSteve. The dude who, I swear I remember this, people are comparing his prospect value to Stephen Strasburg. Well…that didn’t work out. His first start, though, wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t very good, either. He pitched five innings against the Phillies allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits, two of which were homers, and a pair of walks. Cedric Hunter (who I would never have ever remembered anywhere) and Ryan Howard (no, not the Dunder Mifflin temp) took him deep. For all his hype, Stephenson managed just one strikeout (Odubel Herrera) in his debut. He’s trying to resurrect his pitching career in the only place where pitchers probably hate more than GABP, Coors Field.

9.) Rookie Davis
The one guy you might remember from the Aroldis Chapman trade (what a farce) debuted to…less than ideal results. He pitched three innings against the Phillies, at GABP, and allowed four runs on five hits. The Reds did win that game, though, which is why he’s not last. Davis struck out the very first bater he faced (Cesar Hernandez) but then promptly flipped the good vibes as he allowed a home run to Daniel Nava (his first of two that day off Davis) the very next dude up. Davis did get a few more chances, though he never pitched more than five innings (and he only got to five once) and was done as a Red after 2017.

10.) Sal Romano
Big Sal didn’t have the beginning he was hoping for. April 16, 2017, Sal pitched against the Brewers at GABP and was busy. He only tossed three innings, but he threw 82 pitches as he walked four, allowed three hits, to of which were home runs, and three runs (two earned). He was sent back down after the start and didn’t get called back up til July. He is now in the Yankees farm system, but there will always be the moment where he and I had a connection at GABP. On June 19, 2018, Sal had what was probably the best start of his career. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Tigers, allowing four hits and four walks, while striking out six. As he was walking off the mound in the middle of the seventh he looked up toward where I was standing and clapping, at the back of section 127. There were multiple empty rows in front of me, so no one was directly between his line of sight and myself. I decided to take my hat off and tip it toward him. He then responded by doing the same and pointing it directly at me. This happened.

Here’s hoping Vladimir Gutierrez ends up toward the top of this list.

Jeff has spent his entire life around sports. From playing baseball and golf in high school to traveling with college softball, volleyball, and men’s basketball teams as their media relations guy, sports have always been his focal point. He’s pumped to be bringing Reds content to the Locked on Sports Podcast Network!

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The Positives for the Cincinnati Reds of Keeping Nick Senzel in AAA

The Cincinnati Reds are telling us it is time to change our expectations of Nick Senzel, writes Clay Snowden

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Things have not gone as planned. Nick Senzel was selected with the second overall pick in 2016 and was praised for his plus hit tool. Fast forward to now and Senzel is an often injured player who currently sits in AAA Louisville. I am not sure if I remember a player with as much frustration attached to his name, maybe Billy Hamilton? I am not writing Senzel off as a bust just yet, but things are trending that way. With him in AAA what should we make of this?

I think it is time to change expectations. Once thought of as a potential building block of the Reds rebuild and future, Senzel has proven he cannot be that. Injury after injury has limited his time on the field, but even when he has played he has not been very good. Definitely not second overall good. Hell he’s a negative WAR player. He’s still young(ish) and has not had enough at bats to really determine what he will become. If I was a betting man, I would bet he wouldn’t reach the potential we once though he had. A lot of the blame falls on….well….bad luck. Injuries stunting development is not something I like to blame on players. The organization has not exact made it easy on him. Changing his positions several times including a drastic change to center to fit team needs was not easy on Senzel. Changing his swing/stance during his rookie season was crazy. And here we sit on August 16th, 2021 with Senzel playing for the Louisville Bats. You can debate if it’s the right move or not, but its where we are. What positives can come from this move?

 

Let’s go back to expectations. It’s time to shift from all star build block to useful utility player. We can be mad about it all we want, but it won’t change anything. My hope is Senzel is used all over the field in Louisville. He’s played some SS down there which makes things interesting. We know he can play second, third, and center. Adding short to that resume makes him a very useful piece. If the plan is to transition him to a utility role, he could get plenty of starts at multiple positions, cover pinch running, defensive subs late in the game, and be a back up shortstop (especially in 2022).  

 

Bottom line, Senzel needs a role and they need to stick to that role. I think the utility role with more playing time than an average bench player is the best role for him. No, it’s not the role we all expected when the Reds selected him in 2016, but it could be the best role for him and the Reds going forward.

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Cincinnati Reds July Reds Mailbag

The Cincinnati Reds are battling to retake first place in the NL Central, here in July, and questions abound. Clay has some answers for you!

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Here we are, a few days before the deadline and more than a couple spots outside of first place. The Reds are looking less and less like a playoff team, and have yet to make a move (7/27/21 2:24 pm). Let’s get to some questions.

 

Miguel Rojas and Yimi Garcia for Allen Cerda and Alejo Lopez?

These are the caliber of players the Reds seem likely to get. I think World Series contenders are more likely to overpay for some all star caliber players than the scratching and hoping for playoff Reds are. I do think the Reds will get someone, but not a splash move. I would love to add Rojas and Garcia. However, I think the Marlins say no to this. Lopez projects to a bench bat and Cerda has been good, but not a high profile prospect. I think the Marlins could get someone in the 8-11 range plus another top 30 from a team. OF course, each team ranking is different, but you get what I am saying.

 

What do you see in the future for Castllanos? Do you think the Reds will sign him to another deal?

I hate to say this, but I do not think Castellanos will be a Red next season. His agent, Scott Boras, is tough. An he loves to have his clients test the market. Castellanos will opt out, as he is worth more than the $16 million option. Once he hits free agency, another team will outbid the Reds. This isn’t me being some grouch, this is me being realistic. One of the best bats hits free agency at age 29, he will be looking to get locked up to a big money/term deal into his mid-late 30s.

 

Will Alejo Lopez get a chance? Does Jose Barrero get called up? What about Phil Diehl?

Lopez has been mostly up and down from Louisville and Cincinnati, and has received a spot start here and there but mostly has been a bench bat. I’d like to see him play some third and give Suarez time on the bench. However, that doesn’t seem likely. To me Diehl is a classic example of a AAAA player. I don’t expect him to come up and make an impact but with the way he’s pitched in Louisville and the current state of the bullpen, he’s earned a shot.

Jose Barrero has been outstanding this season. He was recently moved to the number 20 overall prospect for Baseball America. The deadline will determine the rest of his season. If a SS is acquired, he will stay down. If not I think he would be their “deadline addition”. For the record, I would keep him in AAA the rest of the year and go acquire a SS. Bringing him up as the answer is a lot of pressure. Also, he has less than 250 at bats above single A. If his lack of experience was the issue less than 12 months ago, 245 at bats isn’t a huge amount to prove otherwise. But the way he’s hitting…I would understand if he’s brought up.

 

What should the Reds do with Shogo? Does he stay or go?

He stays. Too much money with another year left for an older outfielder with zero (proven at MLB level) hit tool. I doubt there’s much of a market for that. Maybe he “needs more playing time” to get comfortable, but he has done nothing to earn that. I love Shogo, but it’s getting harder to justify playing him. Keep him on the roster for a defensive replacement/pinch runner.

 

Will the Reds do anything to strengthen the bullpen? Will the starters be stretched out to go 7 innings?

I think the Reds will add a bullpen arm. I don’t think it will be some all star closer, but an above average guy. Givens/Bard from Colorado come to mind.

The issue with a lot of these starters isn’t David Bell *not* letting them go deep, but instead, they are throwing too many pitches. It’s on them more than Bell most of the time. We need to advance past thinking every starter should go 7 or 7 plus innings.

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Positives of the Cincinnati Reds 2021 Season

The highs have been high, but man oh man the lows have been low. Clay Snowden checks in to highlight some of the positives from the first part of the Cincinnati Reds season.

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The highs have been high, but man oh man the lows have been low. This season has entertained us with some big moments like sweeping the cardinals, Wade Miley’s no – no, and a couple of winning streaks. The low’s have been low. Like, lower than Geno’s batting average low. I still have nightmares about the west coast trip. And as of right now, the Reds are hovering around .500. To be frank, that’s about where they should be. A roster with this many flaws, fakes, and aches won’t win many divisions, even if it’s an easier one like the NL Central. I wanted to take today to highlight some of the positives from the first part of the season.

 

The Future is Bright

The Reds rookie class is shaping up to be more than a few contributing pieces, but a core a build around. Johnathan India started off scorching hot, cooled down, but has since blossomed into one of the integral parts of this team and the Reds future. The former 5th overall pick switched positions and has shown he can flash the leather at second. Slashing .262/.374/.396 on the year, he’s really turned it on in June slashing .303/.425/.455. The most important part…the Reds have found a leadoff hitter. Something they have struggled to find.

Tyler Stephenson has not only shown he can hit at the big league level, but that he can become one of the best hitting catchers. His ability to play first has been the cherry on top. Slashing .269/.378/.425 with 5 HR he’’s proving he needs to play every day.  I expect a big breakout in 2022. What Alejo Lopez has shown in the minors is promising as a future switch-hitting bench bat that puts the ball in play.

The rookie arms have shown flashes as well. Vladimir Gutierrez and Tony Santillan have not been perfect, but they have shown enough to have a role in the future. Even if they become 4 or 5 starters under cheap team control, that’s a plus for the Reds. The top two pitching prospects, Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, have been battling for the title of “future ace”. Both have looked great, especially Lodolo. Greene is younger but developing quickly. Art Warren isn’t exactly a prospect but has pitched well enough to get a mention.

Internal MVP Race

No matter what the Reds do this summer, we will always have the summer of the MVP race. Jesse Winker has blossomed into one of the best pure hitters in the MLB while tapping into more power than he was every projected to have. Nicholas Castellanos had a frustrating covid season in 2020, where he showed power but chased too many bad pitches. Fast forward to 2021 and he’s a doubles machine. He’s hitting everything. Who knows how much longer he’ll be a Red, but what’s happening right now, two all star outfielders, doesn’t happen often. Enjoy it.

 

Reds Broadcast Team

I watch about 8 MLB games a night. Fantasy baseball has turned me into a monster, and MLB TV quad screen has been feeding that monster. I listen to games every time I’m in the car, and I can say with certainty the Reds have one of the best radio + TV groups. John Sadak has been energizing, positive, quirky, and unique. He’s been a breath of fresh air compared to the previous. Larkin was awful at the beginning of the season but has improved, and will continue to improve. Tommy Thrall is gold. He’s in his second year but has been amazing. Chris Welch brings intelligence of the game that makes us smarter each day and Cowboy is just fun as can be. It might seem small but trust me a bad team with bad announcers is unbearable. The Reds nailed this.

 

A baseball season is a roller coaster of emotions. 162 games is a long season. Sure, it’s frustrating that Bob won’t spend the money, but at the end of the day I am thankful I have a team to watch every day. Especially after last season, I will not take that for granted.

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