The Cincinnati Reds have not had much success recently, and they have lots of problems they are going to need to fix if they plan on getting better anytime soon. Their pitching staff is one of (if not most) important issues they need to address, and it needs to be addressed quickly.
Cincinnati’s lack of success over the past decade has been extremely frustrating for everyone in the Reds community. The Reds have only made the playoffs and had a winning overall record 3 of the past 10 seasons and even in those 3 years, they never made it past the divisional round. More recently, the Reds have been one of the worst teams in baseball, ending the past two seasons with only 68 and 64 wins. Some of the problems the team have had are lack of veteran play from anyone besides Brandon Phillips or Joey Votto, and even they haven’t been that consistent. Their contracts has also strong armed the Reds into not being able to give other players the contracts they want. They have also had young talent in players like Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, but eventually had to trade them in favor of prospects due to lack of overall team success. Even then, these prospects have not panned out into much success in the MLB.
However, the biggest problem, and the one that by far the past couple years has been the Reds pitching staff. This past year ended last year with the 3rd worst team ERA in the entire league at 4.91, walked the most batters of any team at 636, and were bottom 1/3 in basically every single pitchingstatistic. While only having 2 players with over 10 wins (which is a fourth of the teams wins last year) they had 6 players with at least 7 losses, and used over 30 different pitchers over the entirety of the year. The Reds pitching problems consisted of the entire staff, from starters, relief men, and especially the platoon of closers they tried out. Inconsistent and just plain bad pitching have kept the Reds out of more games than one can count.
After several years of having a strong staff in starters Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez, and Mat Latos, as well as bullpen guys like reliever Arthur Rhodes and closer Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen, the Reds eventually had to trade them all in favor of draft prospects when their contracts ran out . For years, the Reds have touted one of the best farm systems in the league with numerous top 50 prospects. However, none of them have made the jump from prospect to every day starter for the Reds.
There have been a couple of good signs in the rebuilding process, but not many. Most recently, the Reds signed RHP Scott Feldman. Feldman came out of the bullpen for Houston Astro’s and the Toronto Blue Jay’s last year.
While he posted a 2.90 ERA for the Astro’s in the beginning of the season, he did not fare well in Toronto, giving up 14 runs in his only 15 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. He was even left off their ALCS roster, showing he did not end his 2016 season very strongly. Hopefully, he turns it around for the Redlegs this season and becomes the start of the rebuilding process of the Reds bullpen.
Unfortunately, the Reds also had to trade their best starting pitcher from last year in Dan Straily for a couple pitching prospects. This has been Cincinnati’s huge problem for some time now; when a player has success, they are immediately shipped out for more prospects. Their constant mediocracy is stunting the ability to keep good players around long enough.
In related news, the Reds are in talks with former longtime Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Reds fans know him as the care-free, long hair, high leg kicking righty who didn’t miss starts, and won games. Even though he is 40 years old and hasn’t pitched since 2014, he might bring some quality leadership to the young Reds staff.
Building a new pitching staff has to take the most priority in the minds of the Cincinnati Reds. No matter how much offense they can provide, which the Reds have shown potential in being able to do so, it will never matter if they can’t get starts to keep the game close with solid starts and bullpen to close the game out. Rebuilding the pitching staff is undoubtedly is the first thing the Reds must do.