The most recent rumors have been that the Cincinnati Reds are looking at starting pitcher Derek Holland. Holland had a bounce-back year in 2018 to the tune of a 7-9 record and a 3.57 ERA after struggling with the White Sox in 2017. While a few weeks ago this would have been someone worth looking at, the Reds have already acquired Alex Wood and Tanner Roark respectively.
Both Wood and Roark were lower in their team’s rotations but this was not necessarily due to their talent, more so the talent around them. The Dodgers and Nationals had some of the best starting pitching in the MLB last season. For this reason, Roark normally sat around the bottom of the rotation and Wood was moved to the bullpen.
Taking a quick look at their stats, the Reds are clearly getting better by putting them in their rotation. Wood ended 2018 with a 9-7 record and 3.68 ERA. For his career, he has a 3.29 ERA which is easily good enough to be the Reds best pitcher just going into 2019.
Roark is coming off a much less impressive year with a 9-15 record and a 4.34 ERA. His career ERA is a 3.59 though and he had a similar walk to strikeout ratio as Dallas Kuechel. He is in Cincinnati to eat some innings and provide stability at the back end of the rotation.
Anthony DeSclafani has proved that he is a solid middle of the rotation option when healthy. Luis Castillo also showed signs of his ace ability in the latter half of last season. One can see that this rotation is already immensely better.
So would adding a middle-tier starter really be that useful?
When looking at options like Holland, Gio Gonzales and Wade Miley, Cincinnati fans will believe that they improve the rotation. But, looking closer, it is actually better to start one of the Reds’ top prospects in Tyler Mahle than it would be to start either of those three options, or almost any middle-tier starter.
Mahle did what most rookies do, he ran out of steam. What Reds fans might forget is that through the first half of the season, Tyler Mahle was the team’s best pitcher. He was 7-7 with a 4.01 ERA and 98 strikeouts in his rookie season. Had he continued on that pace Mahle likely would have won at least 11-12 games, while likely losing a similar amount. Most impressively, he would have finished with close to 200 strikeouts. This would have put him in the top 20 in the MLB above the likes of J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels and all three options mentioned previously. Not to mention every other option is over 30 and past their prime, whereas Mahle is still just 24.
So why not sign Kuechel, trade for top-tier pitching or sign a very good reliever or bench piece instead of bringing in a middle tier starter? Mahle is more than capable as the Reds fifth starter in a rotation already consisting of three solid pitchers in Desclafani, Roark, Wood and one potential top of the rotation starter in Castillo.
Should the Reds bring in one of the middle-tier starters it will show that they have no chance at a top-tier starter. Also, they are wasting Mahle as a depth option instead of letting him continue to get better and become at least as good as one of those middle-tier options. If Cincinnati fans truly want to see their team in the playoffs then they shouldn’t want to sign any more middle-tier starting pitchers.
Reds fans, what do you think they should do? Let us know in the comments!
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