If you’ve been following the Cincinnati Reds this season you’ve seen some interesting baseball this season. Some good and some bad. One of the players on the big league squad that has struggled this season has been reliever Zach Duke. He’s pitched in 14 games with the Cincinnati Reds this season, spanning a total of 8.0 innings. In that time he’s allowed 10 earned runs on 11 hits, he’s walked 6 batters, hit 2 more, and he’s struck out just 4 of the 42 batters that he’s faced. It’s early in the year, but dating back to the All-Star break last year it’s not exactly a great outlook. With Minnesota and Seattle last season after the break he posted a 5.71 ERA in 17.1 innings.

The Reds are seemingly going to stick with a larger than normal 8-man bullpen. So if they do decide to move on from Zach Duke they are going to go with another reliever in all likelihood. Looking down to Triple-A there could be a few options, but the one that may be the best fit would be Cody Reed. First, he’d be a lefty replacing a lefty. But secondly, he’s throwing very well right now.

On the season with the Triple-A Louisville Bats, Cody Reed had a 3.75 ERA in 12.0 innings with 6 walks and 18 strikeouts. That is a little deceiving on the ERA front. He allowed 2 earned in his first outing of the year and recorded just 1 out. Since then he’s allowed 3 runs over 11.2 innings (2.31 ERA) with 4 walks and 18 strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting just .186/.271/.302 against him. And perhaps more importantly is that he’s allowed just a single home run thus far. If you missed my piece last week – the baseball is absolutely flying in Triple-A this year since they switched to the Major League Baseball this season.

The lack of home runs against Cody Reed is two-fold. First, he’s striking out plenty of guys. His 18 strikeouts represents 35.3% of the hitters he’s faced for the Louisville Bats this season. Limiting balls in play will certainly help keep them out of the stands. But so will keeping the ball on the ground, and that’s an area where Reed has also thrived this season. 69.2% of the balls put in play against the left-hander this season have been hit on the ground.

Last season Cody Reed posted a 3.98 ERA in the Major Leagues over 43.1 innings. He missed bats, had a solid walk rate, a solid home run rate, and he had a big ground ball rate. This season he’s doing that in the minors, but better. And with a real potential need in the bullpen, it could be Reed that is getting that call sooner rather than later.

23 Responses

  1. Pete

    Good information. With an inconsistent offense the Reds need to fortify the pitching staff as much as possible. The Reds pitching has performed mightily but if they can improve it, they must. Time to move Reed up and send Zach out. Thanks Doug.

  2. FreeHouse

    Yes Doug, it’s time to bring up Reed. With Reed this team will have 3 power left handers in the pen. If Wandy’s command is for real watch out.


    Make this move Saturday and yesterday would not have happened!

  4. Sliotar

    Duke is done after season, most likely. The rule change coming involving facing 3 batters is a huge blow to an old, LOOGY-type like he is.

    IMO, it is a joke that Bell pulls his Bruce Bochy/Captain Hook routine almost nightly. Especially when the bullpen needed significantly younger, swing-and-miss upgrades to support such a strategy.

    All that said, it feels unlikely that the Reds eat 5 months of salary now on Duke, and replace him with Reed, who has pitched all of 12 innings in 2019.

    Perhaps another month of Duke being bad and Reed showing promise will be enough to force the team’s hand.

    • Doc

      Except that Duke was bad after the break last year, didn’t look effective in ST the game I saw, and is twice as bad this year, whereas Reed was good at the major league level last year and even better this year at AAA, and is part of the future. The mistake was signing Duke in the first place, although I doubt anyone dreamed the starting rotation, in fact, the staff as a whole, would hit the ground pitching this well.

      Eating $2MM doesn’t leave a good taste in one’s mouth, but if you are going to improve and prepare for the future, some hard decisions need to be made. Duke’s hit is a pittance compared to what Kemp’s will be.

    • D Ray White

      Duke is terrible, and they’ll have to either pay him to go away or pay him to do his best Home Run Hoover routine. Reed is a far better option at this point, and represents the best chance to get any return on the Cueto deal. Release Duke and get on with it.

  5. Mike Kelsch

    Hope they bring him up soon. I’m assuming he’s only in the pen in AAA? I’m surprised he’s not at least starting in Louisville, would think he would have more opportunity for growth/chances.

    • Jefferson Green

      Agreed. Wish he were starting in Louisville. And what looked to be a stacked rotation there when camp broke has been a wreck, so perhaps he could help their mojo before he helps the big club.

  6. WVRedlegs

    Duke DFA’d.
    Mahle optioned to AAA.
    Reed called up and added to rotation.
    Then the decision comes to either remain with an 8 man bullpen or go back to a 5 man bench. There are arguments for both. Can call up either of Romano, Krol, or Bass, or even Herget.
    Then in 2 weeks the Senzel era will begin on May 14. That will require a whole set of other roster moves.

    • David

      Probably just designate Kyle Farmer.

    • Jefferson Green

      WV, I’ve seen you comment on Duke a number of times. Do you think his 3.18 xFIP versus lefties last year was a fluke/SSS issue? I know he has pitched very poorly this year, but I keep thinking he should revert back to his stats last year. (BTW, I also wish he were only being used against lefties.) Sometimes ptichers in their mid-30’s fall off dramatically, but there are plenty of examples of LOOGY’s who perform that role effectively into their late 30’s.

  7. Chris Holbert

    Reed needs the opportunity. Besides being another lefty he has the ability to go more than one batter, which Duke does not. It allows Bell more flexibility, especially when flexibility is the trend.

  8. Roger Garrett

    Reed being sent down to pitch as a reliever was shocking to me to say the least.Get him up here and move on from Duke.His signing was a mistake as were the two year deals given to Hernandez and Hughes.Love all of them but its time to move on and get younger if for not now then for 2020.As mentioned the roster will be much much different in 2020 and we need to find out if Reed and others can or can’t.

    • da bear

      The Hernandez and Hughes signings were solid. Both have performed extremely well though Hughes with a rough start to this season. The Reds have an excellent bullpen that underperformed out the gate with the early Iglesias blowups and terrible Duke outings. It’s a shame the hitting is weak and streaky. Take out the two double digit games and the offense is extremely pathetic outside Winker and Iglesias and Casali (sp?), the power of Dietrich and Eugenio early on.

      You’re dead on Reed should either have been prepared as a starter or begun this season with the big club in the bullpen.

  9. Eldon Kuntz

    I think the Duke signing was to hedge their bets on another Amir injury and/or Wandy/Reed ineffectiveness, all reasonable reasons to have another one year stopgap. I’m in the minority here, but as as much as I hate seeing him come into tight games, I’m not sure the reasons for signing him aren’t still valid after only a month of the season. I would hold on to him for a bit longer, but use him in lower leverage situations.

  10. matthew hendley

    Agree with the general consensious that Duke needs to go, is chump change at 2MIL. Even the reds can walk away from that. A Reed call up to the bullpen makes sense as well with the lefty ability to pitch. However, would he be able to continue to produce at the same level with only sporadic appearances? he will defiantly slot behind Garrett and I am in favor of riding the hot hand of Peralta. He should not start. He is obviously not stretched out, and has never been that good in the rotation.

  11. Jefferson Green

    Duke has stunk this year, but he had some decent stats last year, including a 3.67 xFIP in the second half and 3.18 xFIP versus lefthanders. Again – I know he has pitched very poorly so far this year, but unless he completely lost it in the off season (he is 36 after all), he will rebound and become good at getting lefties out. My frustration is that unless the game is out of hand, he should only be facing lefties.

    And yes, bringing up Reed sooner rather than later would be welcome.

  12. Old-school

    The advantage with Reed is he can be a multi- inning guy and help not burn out the bullpen.

    If Mahle isn’t getting it done in the 4 th, Reed could come in and bridge the middle innings to keep the Reds in the game. He’s capable of throwing 80-100 innings. No long extra inning games yet, but Reed’s is also that guy who could pitch 4 innings in that inevitable 14 inning 5-4 game.

  13. ToBeDetermined

    OK, I’ll pile on.

    Reed needs to come up. And Duke needs to go.
    There is no reason that Reed is pitching in relief in AAA. If unless he was expected to be called up as a ML reliever shortly into the season. Kind of like the Senzel situation. Maybe they get called up together after this road trip.

    • Grand Salami

      I agree with the Reed in relief comment. The consideration for his elevation back to Cincy should be an easy one. Watching Roark, I’m not so sure Sims shouldn’t get a call too.