Each Monday morning, we’ll ask a few of our authors and friends of the site to answer an important question concerning the Reds. What’s your answer?

Question: Other than Luis Castillo, which Reds starting pitcher are you most encouraged about? 

Nick Carrington: Sonny Gray has impressed me in his three starts. Thus far, he has struck out over 24% of batters and walked just over 7%. While he’s let up harder contact than you’d like, much of that hard contact has been on the ground (52% GB%). With modern shifts, ground balls are going for more outs than ever, so pitchers can withstand rocket grounders. No one has hit a home run off Gray yet.

Gray’s doesn’t throw particularly hard, but his curveball/slider combination has dominated hitters, both ground balls and strikeouts at impressive rates. No one has gotten a hit on his slider through three starts. Most importantly, all of this looks sustainable. His BABIP is roughly around his career average after skyrocketing last year. He’s not doing anything wildly outside of his profile. It just looks like a rebound after some bad luck last year. That bodes well for the next three years.

Chad Dotson: I’m most encouraged by Daenerys Targaryen, who is simply a winner who throws *fire*. No, wait … I mean Tyler Mahle, who doesn’t actually
throw fire. It’s no secret that Mahle struggled during the second half of his rookie season, but I’ve been eager to see what the kid has learned. So far, so good. Through two starts of his age-24 season, Mahle has been magnificent. He’s mixing his pitches up well and controlling the strike zone, much like he did in his entire minor league career. It’ll be difficult to accept his return to Triple-A if and when Alex Wood returns, but even if he is temporarily demoted, Mahle will be back soon, and for good. He’s the real deal.

Matt Habel: There is nothing discouraging about the Reds starting pitching right now, which is pretty weird to say after the past few years. Even Anthony DeSclafani, who has struggled out of the gate, is at least healthy and could be a huge boost to the depth if he can regain some of his past form.

I would have to say I am the most encouraged by Tyler Mahle, who has done very well filling in for Alex Wood to start the season. After an up and down 2018 that ended on a poor note, Mahle has been much sharper through his first two starts and could be learning from his experience last year. He is only 24, so expect a few more bumps along the way, but I think he could end up as a quality number 3 or 4 starter for a long time.

Bill Lack: Sonny Gray. I predicted on RN Radio before the season started that I thought Gray would be an All-Star this season and thought he’d be the Reds best pitcher. I felt that getting out of New York, where some people just can’t deal with the NY pressure, reuniting with his old pitching coach, and that the contract extension he got from the Reds would help to return him to the pitcher he was in Oakland. I liked how he seems to have embraced technology and how he holds himself to a high standard. He was very vocal about his disappointment in his first start. Nothing I’ve seen thus far this season has changed my opinion, I’m thrilled the Reds have him locked up for the foreseeable future.

Jason Linden: Tyler Mahle. It’s tempting to answer Sonny Gray, but we all knew this was possible and we knew the Reds REALLY thought it was possible because they extended him. Mahle is very young and has looked right on the cusp at times over the last couple of years. Now, it looks like he might finally be arriving, in much the same way Castillo is. I really think he might be turning in to a very good 2-3 starter. Combine that with Gray and Castillo and you could really have a good rotation for a while.

5 Responses

  1. lost11found

    For me its a tie … I know, no ties in baseball.

    But I’m encouraged equally by both Gray and Mahle. The first as it’s starting to look like a shrewd FO move that may really help the team both in the near-term and for a few years. The later as its good to see some internally developed talent come out of the farm system.

  2. Scott C.

    I think I most encouraged by Mahle, it looks like he is open to learning and really wants to be in the bigs. On the other hand I am most discouraged by DeSclafani, I know he is healthy but it sure seems like he has had a lot of hard contact and throwing a lot of pitches.

  3. Doc

    I am more interested in what the Reds do when Wood is ready to return, and if Mahle/Roark/Disco continue their early season form to the point of Wood’s return. Do you choose who Wood replaces based on early season performance of those three, or on who has options and the big contract?

    I miss the Crosley Field baseball of my youth, preceding free agency and guaranteed contracts, when the best 25 played in the bigs.

  4. Matthew Habel

    Valid point for sure. He has only thrown his changeup 18 times this year so there is not much to go off of. More swings and misses but he has also given up a double and a homer off of it, so definitely still work to do. Maybe Castillo can give him some pointers…

    Mahle’s strength is how well he commands his fastball. He may not have an out pitch, but that elite command limits mistake pitches which gives him a chance in every at-bat.

  5. Don A

    Agree on Disco. It seems that every pitch is the same speed and near the middle of the plate. He really needs to change pitch speed!!!