What a day for the Cincinnati Reds when it comes to roster moves. There are four moves made today by the team. The first is that they placed Jared Hughes on waivers and he was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies. They also optioned Sal Romano back to Triple-A Louisville. Matt Bowman was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. And lastly, Joel Kuhnel was added to the 40-man roster and also called up from Triple-A Louisville. There’s a lot to digest here, so let’s take it player by player.
Jared Hughes to Philadelphia
In 2018 he was dominant for the Cincinnati Reds, posting a 1.94 ERA in 78.2 innings. He allowed just for home runs on the season, walked 23 batters, and he struck out 59 opposing hitters. His advanced run estimator metrics said he was lucky, but they still said he was very good.
This season things haven’t gone nearly as well. He posted a 4.10 ERA in 48.1 innings for the Reds. That’s still good enough for a 112 ERA+, which is above-average. But his home run rate more than doubled from last year, his walk rate jumped up quite a bit, and his already well below-average strikeout rate dropped for the second straight season.
Still, he was a solid pitcher for the Reds this season overall. He had struggled since the start of July, though. His ERA was 6.59 over his last 14 games, but a lot of that was due to one very poor showing on July 26th against Colorado where he allowed six runs in an inning of work. In the other 12.2 innings he had allowed just four runs.
He was only making $2.125M this year, so while the Reds will pick up some cash savings, it’s less than a million dollars. They also won’t have to pay a $250,000 buyout on his 2020 option.
Sal Romano to Triple-A
This isn’t much of a surprise. After picking up his second career save on August 10th, Romano took the mound yesterday in Washington and was charged with eight earned runs in 0.2 innings as the team was blown out by the Nationals 17-7. The right-hander may have been optioned even if he had performed well in the game, as the team is short on pitchers and he may not have been able to pitch for several days either way.
Matt Bowman to Cincinnati
The Reds had Matt Bowman up earlier this season and he was solid, but unspectacular. He pitched in 18 games and posted a 4.58 ERA in 19.2 innings with 9 walks (2 intentional) and 15 strikeouts. He’s spent the rest of his season in Triple-A Louisville where he’s been able to keep the runs off of the board quite well. His ERA with the Bats is 2.12 through 34.0 innings, but he’s been even better since he headed back to Triple-A. He’s made eight appearances and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11.1 innings.
Joel Kuhnel to Cincinnati
Easily the top rated relief prospect in the Reds farm system, it’s time for Joel Kuhnel to get his chance to show it at the big league level. The right-hander has dominated in Double-A and Triple-A this season, posting a combined 2.18 ERA over 53.2 innings where he’s allowed just 39 hits, 6 home runs, walked 16 (3 intentional), and he’s struck out 50. He’s got back-end of the bullpen kind of stuff with a fastball that’s touched 101 MPH in the past, and regularly sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s.
Here’s an interview with Joel Kuhnel prior to today’s game with the media, courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds.
Thoughts on the moves
I’ve been beating the drum for a few weeks now over on twitter that if the Reds wanted to truly be taken seriously as trying to win right now that they needed to get Joel Kuhnel up and into the bullpen. While I’m positive that the Reds front office doesn’t take my advice, I’m glad they’re finally listening. This is the move that is most intriguing among all of them. He’s a guy who could be a difference maker in the bullpen for this team.
It’s a bummer to see Jared Hughes go. He seemed like a good dude, and he had actually pitched well for the Reds in his short stay over the last year-and-a-half. Things were trending in the opposite direction. I’m still surprised by the move, though I do understand why it was made. Swapping out Romano for Bowman feels like a “we need an arm that can go tonight if needed” kind of move.