Today I will be starting a four part series that looks at the non-roster invitees for spring training. They will be broken down into the relievers, the starter, the infielders and the outfielders. The series will give a quick look at the player, how they may fit the Cincinnati Reds needs and their chances of making the team. There are 21 non-roster invitees to go through, but only three guys that I classify as relievers right now for the purpose of this article.
The lone right hander on the list for today is Nate Adcock. He’s pitched in the big leagues in parts of three seasons with varying degrees of success. He’s thrown 105.0 big league inning with the Royals and Rangers, mostly from the bullpen, where he has a 3.86 ERA. He also had 44 walks and just 67 strikeouts in that time. In the 2014 season he pitched in seven games for the Rangers, throwing 10.0 innings and striking out nine batters, but struggled some with the control as he walked five.
In Triple-A during 2014 he had plenty of success once his season began (he didn’t pitch until June 5th) as he posted a 2.95 ERA in 21.1 innings with just one homer allowed in the launching pad known as the Pacific Coast League while striking out 22 batters and walking 11.
He’s got a big arm, topping out at 97 MPH during the 2014 season in the big leagues and averaging 95 MPH with his fastball. He also mixes in a slider for his secondary offering. His fastball is a sinker with good movement and it’s helped him be a groundball pitcher throughout his Major and Minor League career. Control has been an issue throughout his career and is the biggest concern moving forward with him. He’s also historically struggled against left handed hitters, though he was more successful against them in 2014 than he had been in the past.
One of the two left handers in contention for a bullpen spot, Jose Mijares is looking to pitch for the first time since the 2013 season. He went to spring training with the Red Sox last season but opted out of his contract and didn’t pitch at all until the Venezuelan Winter League rolled around after the MLB season was completed.
In 2013 Mijares pitched for the Giants, posting a 4.22 ERA in 49.0 innings with 20 walks and 54 strikeouts. He was far more successful against lefties than righties. Right handers had an OPS 251 points higher, a much higher walk rate and a much lower strikeout rate. As a LOOGY, Mijares looks much better than if he’s used to face hitters on both sides of the plate.
While he didn’t pitch in the 2014 season, in the past he’s worked with a fastball in the 89-92 MPH range and touches a tad higher at times. He’s also mixed in a slider and a change up in past seasons with the slider being used quite a bit more than the change up.
A second lefty that is being brought in to compete for a spot in the bullpen, Paul Maholm just recently signed with the Reds. I covered it rather in depth on RedsMinorLeagues.com on Monday, looking at possible reasons as to why he was successful in 2013, but not so much in 2014.
While the ERA difference for Maholm in 2013 and 2014 was just 0.43, he was used quite differently in the two seasons. In 2013 he started 26 games for the Braves, but in 2014 he spent a majority of his time pitching out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. His usage wasn’t just different though, his results against left handers was also very different.
In 2013 lefties had a .568 OPS against Maholm and he had just six walks against 35 strikeouts. In the 2014 season lefties had a .745 OPS against him and he had seven walks to just 10 strikeouts against them. If you’ve checked out my link above then you can see that one issue caught up to Maholm against lefties. Control. He struggled to throw the ball where he wanted to against lefties in 2014 and he paid the price for it. When he’s been at his best, Maholm has been able to really neutralize left handers.
Who fits a need?
With the state of the Reds bullpen all of these guys could fit a need. Adcock would add another power arm to the bullpen and he’s shown a good ability to induce. Mijares and Maholm could both provide value against left handers after the Reds struggled to find someone other than Aroldis Chapman to have success against them in 2014. With a good spring any of these three could walk away with a spot in the bullpen. The odds aren’t particularly strong for any given non-roster player to win a big league job – there’s a reason they are a non-roster invitee, but the bullpen is a place where you will often see these types of players win a job. The Reds have a slew of options for their bullpen openings and there will be plenty of competition, but all of these guys have shown enough in the past that they could impress during the spring and be in a Reds uniform when April rolls around.