2020 Fantasy Baseball: Cincinnati Reds Team Outlook

Shawn Childs

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds finished with a losing record for the sixth straight season. Their last trip to the playoffs came in 2013. Over the previous 24 years, Cincinnati made the postseason three times. They have five World Series titles (1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, and 1990) and 15 playoff appearances in the team’s 138-year history.

Last season their offense remained flat in runs (701 – 24th), home runs (227 – 14th), and RBI (679 – 24th). The Reds allowed 108 runs fewer than 2018 (819), pushing them to eighth in ERA (4.18). Cinci ended last year with the seventh most saves (46).

Cincinnati invested in Japan import Shogo Akiyama to take over in centerfield. They signed a pair of power bats (OF Nick Castellanos and 2B Mike Moustakas) to beef up the middle of their starting lineup. The only two additions to the pitching staff were SP Wade Miley and RP Pedro Strop.

The starting rotation has three intriguing arms (Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer) plus SP Tyler Mahle and SP Anthony DeSclafani offer upside in the back of the rotation. The ninth inning should be in good hands with RP Raisel Iglesias, and the Reds have a couple developing arms in the bullpen.

Their offense should be much improved with growth expected in runs and power. The Reds also have more depth on their bench to help cover some in-season injuries.

Cincinnati looks on the verge of a playoff berth if they stay healthy and perform up to expectations.

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The Reds found a lead-off bat in the off-season who offers a high walk rate (10.8). Akiyama only missed five total games over the past five seasons in Japan, where he hit .321 with 531 runs, 94 home runs, 350 RBI, and 78 stolen bases over 2,948 at-bats. Both his CTBA (.371) and his AVH (1.553) are trending down while having a low strikeout rate (14.3). He projects to have mid-teen speed, but Akiyama isn’t a great base stealer (63.3 percent success rate). His best overall year came in 2017 (.322 with 106 runs, 24 home runs, 89 RBI, and 16 steals over 575 at-bats). He has a left-handed bailout swing that will lead to plenty of ground balls and line drives. Akiyama may struggle to drive fastballs on the inner half of the plate in the majors, but he can sit on pitches that lead to pull power. His at-bats should rise by a minimum of ten percent, pointing to over 110 runs. My early projections see him as a .280 hitter with a 15/75/15 skill set. In the early draft season in the high stake’s market, Akiyama has an ADP of 275. Worth a flier based on his price point with the right team structure. Last November, he broke his right foot while expecting to be ready for spring training.

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Votto killed fantasy teams over the past two seasons. His RBI rate (11) in 2019 was utterly embarrassing, while both his CTBA (.341) and AVH (1.577) fell off a cliff. He only had one home run and ten RBI over 152 at-bats against left-handed pitching. Votto still has a high walk rate (12.5), but it came in well below his career average (16.0). He also set a career-high in his strikeout rate (20.0). Votto had 12 RBI or fewer in every month last year while never hitting over four home runs in a month. His hard-hit rate (37.7) was league average at best. He had a similar swing path as his career resume while posting a Judy-like HR/FB rate (9.8) for the second straight year (9.5 in 2018), which came after success in 2015 (21.6), 2016 (22.0), and 2017 (19.7). Votto did battle a back issue in April, June, and a trip to the injured list in August. Pretty much a fading player with lost confidence. His ADP (270) seems high for his career resume, but his play of late screams avoid. Bet on his resume if Votto has a spark in his game in spring training.

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After playing for the first two-thirds of the season for the lowly Tigers, Castellanos turned his first-half doubles (37 over 403 at-bats) into a massive run with the Cubs (.321 with 43 runs, 16 home runs, and 36 RBI over 212 at-bats). His low RBI total (73) was created by a sharp decline in RBI chances (332 – 400 in 2018) and a step back in his RBI rate (14 – 17 in 2018). Castellanos finished with a league average strikeout rate (21.5) and a below-par walk rate (6.2). His best value came against lefties (.370 with eight home runs and 19 RBI over 108 at-bats). Most of his power came in August (.348 with 24 runs, 11 HRs, and 20 RBI over 115 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (41.4) ranked 128th with minimal change in his HR/FB rate (14.4 – 13.6 in 2018 and 12.2 in his career). With an ADP of 115 and a better supporting cast, Castellanos could be on the verge of a breakout season in power. His underlying stats suggest more of the same or a .280/80/25/80 player. The gamble in me wants to predict 40-plus home runs with a career-high in runs and RBI.

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Over the last three years, Moustakas turned into an excellent source of power (101 HRs and 267 RBI over 1,651 at-bats). Even with success, his batting average (.259) over this span offers no upside due to a low CTBA (.313). His strikeout rate (16.8) remains favorable while showing growth in his walk rate (9.1). Moustakas continues to have an elite average hit rate (2.030). His lefty bat had success against left-handed pitching (.276 with 11 HRs and 27 RBI over 163 at-bats). He started the year with a productive first half (.263 with 25 HRs and 53 RBI over 323 at-bats), but Moustakas looked rather mediocre after the All-Star break (.240 with ten HRs and 34 RBI over 200 at-bats). His hard-hit rate (40.7) came in 144th. Some of his batting average risk comes from a high fly-ball rate (45.3 – 44.5 in his career). In three of the previous four seasons, he had strength in his HR/FB rate (19.4 in 2016, 17.8 in 2017, and 18.2 in 2019). Moustakas gains some advantage by qualifying at second base. His ADP (108) places him as the 11th at the second base. Last year he struggled with his RBI rate (14). A nice bat with a decent floor in home runs (30) and RBI (85), but his runs tend to fall short of the league average with no sign of growth in batting average.

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez
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Over the last four seasons, Suarez turned himself from an afterthought in potential power to a pure basher. His AVH (2.109) and CTBA (.404) were career-highs while improving in each of the past three years. He did trade power for strikeouts (28.6 percent – 23.4 in 2018) while repeating the value of his walk rate (10.6). Suarez had similar success against righties (.270 with 38 HRs and 79 RBI over 452 at-bats) and lefties (.276 with 11 HRs and 24 RBI over 123 at-bats). After a poor June (.185 with three HRs and eight RBI over 92 at-bats), his bat exploded over the second half of the year (.296 with 49 runs, 32 HRs, and 55 RBI over 277 at-bats). He finished 141st in hard-hit rate (40.8). Suarez had a career-high in his fly-ball rate (42.3) and HR/FB rate (29.5). Late in the year, Suarez battled a left-hand injury after getting hit with a pitch while also having surgery in late January to repair an issue with his right shoulder. I don't believe he belongs in the cleanup slot in the batting order based on his RBI rate (14). His ADP (61) is high after his breakout in power. He is settling into a .260 hitter with a 90/30/90 skill set.

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Senzel ended spring training with a right ankle issue, pushing him to AAA in April, where he worked on playing in centerfield. The Reds called him up on May 1st. Senzel played well over the first three months in the majors (.285 with 40 runs, eight HRs, 30 RBI, and nine SBs over 263 at-bats) while battling another right ankle issue and a hamstring injury in July. His season ended on a down note (.188 with four HRs, 12 RBI, and five SBs over 112 at-bats), which was tied to a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required in September. His strikeout rate (24.4) and walk rate (7.3) needs work. Senzel played well against lefties (.316 with three HRs and 16 RBI over 95 at-bats). Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .313 with 28 home runs, 132 RBI, and 40 stolen bases over 904 at-bats. Senzel struggled in two straight seasons with injuries, and his shoulder surgery has to have an impact on his power this year. I do believe he is the best developing bat on Cinci with a chance to hit third in the lineup down the road. His RBI rate (17) was an asset out of the gate. Senzel should be ready for opening day with an ADP (202) that looks favorable if he played a full season. A chance at hitting .300 with a 20/20 skill set. I’d plan on less power, but he should be in the starting lineup on most days. I’d like to see him driving the ball over the fence in spring training.

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When building a fantasy franchise in the high-stakes baseball market, the catcher position can be an area where a fantasy owner will try to gain an edge, or it can be one of the last pieces added to a team. For those owners punting the catching position, they are looking for an option that won’t kill them in batting average while offering potentially a 50/10/50 skill set. In 2018, Barnhart moved into the playable punt catcher category while coming up short in his batting average. Last year he failed to match his previous playing time while setting a career-high in home runs (11). His CTBA (.313) has never been strong while seeing a regression in his strikeout rate (22.8) and growth in his walk rate (12.1). Barnhart continues to improve his average hit rate (1.644 – career-best) with all of his power coming off right-handed pitching. His ground ball rate (45.5) remains high, with a spike in his HR/FB rate (14.7). Tough to get behind Barnhart in the fantasy games based on his opportunity.

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Over the previous two seasons, Galvis saw a decline in stolen base total (2017 – 14, 2018 – 8, and 2019 – 4). Last year he set a career-high in home runs (23) and RBI (70) with a push higher in his CTBA (.352) and AVH (1.683). His strikeout rate (24.6) is fading while continuing to have a low walk rate (4.8). Galvis played well over the first half of the year in Toronto (.270 with 42 runs, 15 HRs, 44 RBI, and four SBs over 330 at-bats), but he lost his momentum after the All-Star break (.247 with 25 runs, eight HRs, and 26 RBI over 227 at-bats). His HR/FB rate (14.5) was a career-high. More of an ugly duckling at the back-end of the shortstop pool. His volume of at-bats does help his floor in runs and RBI. For reference, Galvis finished 2019 as the 124th ranked hitter in SIscore (-2.37), but he has an ADP of 350 as the 214th batter drafted in 2020. More of a replacement bat for a top fantasy team, but he is viable for the right team structure. Galvis projects to have a .250/60/20/65/5 skillset if he secures a full season of at-bats.

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Aquino will draw attention in the 2020 draft season due to his dominating success (.320 with 22 runs, 14 HRs, and 33 RBI over 103 at-bats) in August after his call-up from the minors. His bat appeared to be exposed in September (.196 with five HRs and 14 RBI over 102 at-bats with 36 Ks). He had risk in his strikeout rate (26.7) with a slightly below-average walk rate (7.1). Aquino also had a ton of home runs (28 over 294 at-bats) at AAA with a spike in his batting average (.299). He’s moved slowly in the minors while repeating AA in 2017 and 2018 (.227 with 37 HRs, 111 RBI, and 13 SBs over 863 at-bats). Over nine seasons in the minors, Aquino hit .248 with 124 home runs, 442 RBI, and 70 stolen bases over 2,909 at-bats. His strikeout rate (23.8) in the minors came in behind the league average (21.5) while not having an edge in his hard-hit rate (39.0). He has a high fly-ball rate (44.9) with a massive spike in his HR/FB rate at AAA (30.1) and the majors (28.8). Fantasy owners bought into his 2019 success based on his early ADP (165). Swing and miss bat who will be exposed with more playing time in the majors. At best, a platoon player with plenty of power if he makes contact and his strikeouts don’t push him to the bench or back to AAA. I’ll let him beat me in 2020.

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Winker finally showed power (16 HRs over 338 at-bats) in 2019, but he struggled with runners on base (RBI rate – 11) with more regression in his CTBA (.327). His strikeout rate (15.6) is favorable, with a slight step back in his walk rate (9.9). Winker pushed his AVH (1.758) to an area that supports 25-plus home runs if given a full season of at-bats. His RBI total (38) was low, which came from a shallow number of RBI chances (193) and a weak RBI rate (12). He struggled against lefties (.163 with no HRs and two RBI over 43 at-bats). Winker teased in April (.228 with 17 runs, eight HRs, and 13 RBI over 92 at-bats). His season ended with back and neck issues that didn’t require surgery. This season his opportunity looks cloudy with two outfielders added the Reds’ outfielder in the off-season. High average bat with developing power, but his window to start is much lower in 2020. Only a bench player for a fantasy team in deep leagues while possibly working as a platoon player.

Other Options

Curt Casali (C) will compete for the backup catching job for the Reds in 2020. Over six seasons in the majors, he hit .230 with 31 home runs and 97 RBI over 755 at-bats. Last year Casali hit .251 with 24 runs, eight home runs, and 32 RBI over 207 at-bats, which projects well if given over 450 at-bats. His strikeout rate (25.0) tends to be high, with improvement in his walk rate (10.6) last year. Possible flier at C2 in deep leagues if he gains more playing time.

Kyle Farmer (IF) played well over his six seasons in the minors (.295 with 33 HRs, 279 RBI, and 21 SBs over 1,890 at-bats), but he’s struggled to find a starting job in the majors. He came into the minors as a catcher while also seeing time at every infield position. The Reds gave him the most at-bats (183) of his career in 2019, leading to a .230 with 22 runs, nine home runs, 27 RBI, and four steals. His strikeout rate (30.0) was much higher than expected, with a low walk rate (5.1). With a respectable resume at AAA (.293 with 70 runs, 14 HRs, and 74 RBI over 515 at-bats), Farmer may viable at catcher going forward. Last year he played at catcher (15), first base (18), second base (41), and third base (12). Only a player to follow if Farmer gains catcher eligibility in 2020 with a significant increase in playing time.

Phillip Ervin (OF) had a flashy skill set over his seven seasons in the minors. He only hit .256 over 2,226 at-bats, but Ervin hit 61 home runs while stealing 153 bases. Over 470 at-bats at AA, he only hit .238 with 15 home runs, 53 RBI, and 40 stolen bases, while improving at AAA (.272 with 18 HRs, 104 RBI, and 39 SBs over 681 at-bats). In his limited experience in the majors, Ervin hit .262 with 17 HRs, 64 RBI, and 14 steals over 512 at-bats. A free swinger (K rate – 24.2 in the majors) with the glove to play center field if needed.

Mark Payton (OF) was claimed by the Reds in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .286 with 62 home runs, 280 RBI, and 39 steals over 1,963 at-bats. In 2019, his bat was much improved at AAA (.334 with 30 home runs, 97 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 395 at-bats). Payton only had 31 home runs over his previous 1,568 at-bats. He’ll be a tough carry for the Reds in 2020 based on their outfield roster structure.

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Pitching Staff

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Even with a big push forward in wins (15), ERA (3.40), and strikeouts (226), Castillo left some stats on the table in 2019. His walk rate (3.7) was a disaster when considering his success (2.6) in this area in 2018 with the Reds. He did have a significant spike in his strikeout rate (10.7 – 8.8 in 2018). Over his first 24 starts, Castillo went 11-4 with a 2.69 ERA, .192 BAA, and 172 strikeouts over 143.2 innings. He allowed two runs or fewer in 19 of his starts over this stretch. His fade in ERA came from three disaster games (18 runs and 27 baserunners over 15.1 innings) over his final eight starts (5.55 ERA), but batters only hit .230 against him over his step back in value. Most of the damage in home runs (13 over 358 at-bats) came against left-handed hitters. Castillo had an edge against righties (.194) and lefties (.209). His AVB (96.5) fell in line with 2018. His growth and success came via his electric changeup (.129 BAA and 153 Ks over 295 at-bats) and his plus slider (.195 BAA). He works off a four-seam (.272 BAA) and sinker (.289 BA) combination with his fastball with both pitches needing better location in the strike zone. Part of his failure in command came from a step back in his first-pitch strike rate (56). On the verge of greatness if he can throw 65 percent strikes and improve the command of his fastball in the strike zone, which he did in 2018. Castillo is a ground ball pitcher (55.2 percent – 52.0 in his career), but his HR/FB rate (17.9) remains too high. A tempting cheat ace with an ADP of 47 in the early draft season. Next step: sub 2.50 ERA and 250-plus strikeouts.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer
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Bauer failed to repeat his growth in walk rate (2.9) in 2019 (3.5) while also serving up 1.4 home runs per nine innings. His ERA (4.48) more than doubled (2.21) from 2018 while remaining tough to hit .230. Over 24 starts with the Indians, he had a 3.79 ERA over 156.2 innings with 185 strikeouts and better success in BAA (.218). Bauer allowed four runs or more in nine of his starts with Cleveland. His arm was up and down with the Reds over ten starts (6.39 ERA) with his four bad days (27 runs and 36 baserunners over 18.1 innings) outweighing his limited shining moments. He allowed 20 of his 34 home runs to left-handed batters over 364 at-bats. His AVB (94.8) dropped slightly with more of the damage in lost velocity coming from his slider (82.7 MPH – 84.6 in 2018) and his cutter (84.8 – 87.4 in 2018). Bauer had the most success with his curveball (.168 BAA), slider (.186 BAA), and sinker (.169 BAA). The battle here starts with his four-seam fastball (.276 BAA with 49 walks over 294 at-bats). His fly-ball rate (40.4) rose the third straight season while also having a sharp decline in his ground ball rate (37.6 – 44.5 in 2018). Only a bipolar pitching option that fantasy owners will try to justify in 2020. Can his success in 2018 (2.21 ERA and 221 Ks) translate higher if he repeats his growth in innings in 2019 (213)? His ADP (82) does paint an inviting picture. I'll shoot for the middle here – 3.50 ERA with 240 strikeouts, while Bauer’s WHIP has a wide range of outcomes.

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The escape from New York played well for Gray in 2019. He had a massive jump in his strikeout rate (10.5 – 8.5 in 2018 and 8.3 in his career) despite minimal improvement in his walk rate (3.5). Batters only hit .196 against him, which led to his best season since 2015 (2.73 ERA). Gray didn’t have any disaster games (four runs or fewer allowed in all 31 starts) while allowing two runs or less in 20 contests. His best success came from August 4th to September 5th (0.84 ERA and 15 Ks over 42.2 innings). He had the same exact value against righties (.196) and lefties (.196). His AFB (93.7) fell in line with his previous three seasons. Both his slider (.121 BAA) and curveball (.128 BAA) created a winning edge while chipping in with an uptick in his sinker (.208 BAA) and show-me changeup (.231 BAA). Any downside comes from his four-seamer (.331 BBA). Gray missed his final start in 2019 due to a right elbow issue that required surgery in late September to remove loose fragments. He remains a ground ball pitcher (50.8 percent) with some risk in his HR/FB rate (13.0). Over seven seasons in the majors, Gray went 70-60 with a 3.53 ERA and 994 strikeouts over 1,076 innings. I don’t believe last year was a fluke, but his ERA will drift back to the 3.50 ERA unless he cleans up his command. Fantasy owners price him as an SP3 in 2020 based on his ADP (103). With an injury history since 2015 and under 180 innings pitched in each of his previous four years, I would be careful to overprice him this year.

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DeSclafani looked rather boring over his first 11 starts (4.97 ERA, .258 BAA, and 55 Ks over 54.1 innings) due to his struggles with home runs (14). Other than a bad start on June 23rd (six runs and nine baserunners over 4.1 innings), his arm played much better over his next ten games (3.17 ERA and 60 Ks over 54 innings). After two bad showings (9.64 ERA over 9.1 innings), DeSclafani drove home with success over his final eight starts (2.39 RA and 44 Ks over 49 innings). He needs to improve his command (39 of 49 walks) and mistakes (17 HRs over 317 at-bats) against left-handed batters. His AFB (95.0) was a career-high with improvement in each season in the majors. DeSclafani had four pitches of value (slider – .233 BAA, curveball – .228 BAA, sinker – .228 BAA, and changeup – .154 BAA). His strikeout rate (9.0) was a career-best while his walk rate (2.6) came in above his best years in the majors. He needs to clean up the risk in his HR/FB rate (16.2). Viable back-end starter with a reasonable ADP of 264. With 180 innings pitched, he should offer about a 3.50 ERA and 175 strikeouts.

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Over seven seasons in the minors, Mahle has a 46-31 record with a 2.87 ERA and 548 strikeouts over 596.2 innings with success at AAA (2.85 ERA and 84 Ks over 98 innings). In 2018, he struggled with walks (4.3 per nine) and home runs (1.8) in the majors. Last year Mahle showed growth in his foundation skillset (walk rate – 2.4 and strikeout rate – 9.0), but he still allowed too many home runs (1.7 per nine) while being too easy to hit (.266). Over three seasons with Reds, Mahle went 11-23 with a 4.88 ERA and 253 strikeouts over 261.2 innings. He looked viable over his first nine starts (3.51 ERA and 54 K over 51.1 innings) while crushing fantasy teams over his next ten starts (6.35 ERA, .288 BAA, and 11 HRs over 51 innings). A hamstring injury led to a trip on the injured list and back to AAA. There was no excitement in his arm in September (5.93 ERA and seven HRs over 27.1 innings). His AVB (93.7) was a career-best in his limited time in the majors. Mahle showed life with his curveball (.214 BAA) while developing more confidence in his split-finger (.230 BAA). His change in approach to batters did lead to a higher ground ball rate (47.0), but his HR/FB rate (20.8) remains a disaster. Only a back-end flier (ADP – 425) that may come quickly in 2020. Bet on his improved command while understanding the risk/reward here.

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Miley helped Milwaukee and Houston over the last year and a half (19-8 with a 3.52 ERA and 190 Ks over 248 innings), but his walk rate (3.2) and strikeout rate (6.9) suggest further success isn’t repeatable. He struggled with right-handed batters (.267 with 16 HRs and 47 walks over 501 at-bats). Last year Miley had an ERA under 3.80 in April (3.24), May (3.25), June (3.76), July (2.03), and August (3.07). He blew up in September (21 runs and 35 baserunners over 11.1 innings). Cinci paid him $15 million for two seasons in December, which puts him in the starting rotation in April. Miley has weakness in his fastball (91.1 MPH). Batters struggled to hit his changeup (.210 BAA) and four-seamer (.198 BAA) while throwing a cutter (.287 BAA) as his top pitch. There is no temptation for me here. Avoid at all costs. Miley has a 4.32 ERA over his nine years in the majors.

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2017 was a lost season for De Leon. His season started with a right forearm issue that led to an IL stint in the minors. He pitched poorly in his three starts at AAA (nine runs and 20 baserunners over 14 innings) plus a failed outing in the majors (10.13 ERA). In June, De Leon was back on the injured with a lat injury. Later in the season, he missed time due to a right elbow issue that ended up needing TJ surgery in March of 2018. Last year he made 17 short-inning appearances at AAA (3.54 ERA and 74 Ks over 56 innings) while battling his command (4.7 walks per nine). Tampa gave him four innings of work in September (2.25 ERA and seven Ks). Over six seasons in the minors, De Leon went 27-16 record with a 3.35 ERA and 564 strikeouts over 425 innings. In 2020, he’ll have to work his way up the food change to earn a starting chance. I can’t expect a high volume of innings. At best, De Loen earns his way as bullpen arm early in the year.

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There was plenty of frustration for Iglesias and fantasy owners in 2019. The Reds tried to extend his arm earlier in the year with the idea of creating a Josh Hader impact in innings. Over his first 16.2 innings, Iglesias posted a 4.86 ERA and 1.440 WHIP over 16.2 innings while serving up four home runs. He settled down over the next month (no runs over 12.1 innings with 14 Ks and seven successful saves). From June 11th to August 31st, Iglesias converted 14 of 17 save chances with a ton of bad innings (6.59 ERA, 1.463 WHIP, and seven HRs over 27.1 innings). His season ended with a 1.69 ERA, one walk, 15 strikeouts, and seven saves over his final 10.2 innings. He struggled on the road (1-10 with a 5.79 ERA and 48 Ks over 32.2 innings) while having the same value against right-handed (.240) and left-handed (.241) batters. His AFB (95.7) faded slighted over the past two seasons. Iglesias offers three pitches of value (four-seam – .226 BAA, slider – .191 BAA, and changeup – .227 BAA). Most of his failures came from home runs (1.6 per nine), which was the same problem in 2018 (1.5 per nine). He did have growth in his walk rate (2.8) and strikeout rate (12.0). Look from a bounce-back in 2020 with a push toward a 2.50 ERA, a run at 40 saves, and an edge in strikeouts. Iglesias can be found with pick 149 in the early 2020 draft season.

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Since moving to the bullpen in 2018, Garrett has a 3.78 ERA and 149 strikeouts over 119 innings. His walk rate (5.6) was a mess in 2019 after showing some growth in the previous season (3.6). He looked closer-worthy over his first 25 games (1.33 ERA and 31 Ks over 20.1 innings). Garrett lost his command over his final 18 innings (15 walks), which led to no fantasy value down the stretch (6.50 ERA, 1.889 WHIP, and four home runs). He had success against righties (.221) and lefties (.202). His AFB (96.0) is elite while offering a plus slider (.120 BAA). His struggles came from his sinker (.382 BAA). Live arm with high upside if/when he figures out how to throw more strikes.

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Stephenson failed as a starter for the Reds over his first three seasons in the majors (7-11 with a 5.47 ERA and 128 Ks over 133.1 innings). Over eight seasons in the minors, he went 45-50 with a 3.77 ERA and 791 strikeouts over 742 innings. Cinci moved him to the bullpen in 2019, which led to growth in his game. He finished with a 3.76 ERA and 81 strikeouts over 64.2 innings. His strikeout rate (11.3) was a career-best with improvement in his walk rate (3.3). Stephenson shined against right-handed batters (.159) with strength in his BB:K ratio (7:50). He handled lefties (.214) while having command issues (17 walks and 31 Ks). Over his final 20 innings, Stephenson posted a 1.35 ERA, .130 BAA, and 22 Ks). His AFB (95.0) had more life. He gained his edge with a plus slider (.125 BAA) and a low-volume changeup (.211 BAA). To make a further step forward, he needs better control of his four-seamer (.293 BAA) while doing a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark (1.3 HR/9 in 2019 and 1.5 in his career). Stephenson looks miles away from earning saves.

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