Earlier this week we took a look at the potential September call-ups among the position players. Today we’re going to take a look at the pitchers, where there are far more options available than there were among the position players. With the ability to begin calling players up tomorrow, let’s talk about the potential options.
This may be the last September that teams really go out and call up a lot of players. Beginning next year teams will be limited to a 28-man roster in September. Before diving into individual players let me preface this by saying that I will only be discussing players on the 40-man roster. The reasoning here is simple: I don’t believe there’s anyone not on the 40-man that the team will be looking to get playing time to this September, so they aren’t going to designate anyone for assignment/release them to create a spot for someone to come up and sit on the bench.
The right-handed pitcher has split his season between Louisville and Cincinnati in 2019. He’s posted a 2.13 ERA for Louisville in 38.0 innings. A big part of his success has been achieved by keeping the ball in the park. He’s given up just one home run in Triple-A this year and racked up 35 strikeouts with 17 walks. Things didn’t go quite as well in Cincinnati where his ERA is 5.48 over 21.1 innings. He’s kept the ball in the park there, too – giving up just two home runs. But he’s allowed 24 hits and walked nine batters along the way.
If you look at his splits, both in the Majors and in the Minors, it’s clear that he’s very good against right-handed hitters, but not-so-good against left-handed hitters. If used as a right-handed to right-handed reliever only, he could be rather useful. I believe he’ll get recalled in September.
His Major League debut didn’t go anything like he imagined it would, but he bounced back with a shutout inning on July 18th and two shutout innings of July 19th before being optioned back to Louisville. Since returning to Triple-A he’s been a mixed bag of results. On one hand he’s allowed 2 earned runs in 16.1 innings (1.10 ERA) and just 7 hits. On the other hand he’s walked 11 batters as he’s struggled to throw strikes at times.
Much like Matt Bowman, he’s got fairly big splits. Right-handed hitters have a .197/.292/.345 line against him on the season. Lefties have hit just .228 against him, but they’ve also posted a .374 on-base percentage and slugged .418 when facing him. He probably shouldn’t face lefties too frequently, but there’s a chance he could have plenty of success against same-handed hitters. I’d say there’s a lesser chance he’ll be called up than Bowman, but do think it’s more likely he gets recalled than not.
The case for Keury Mella, statistically, isn’t strong. He hasn’t exactly had much success in Triple-A this year, posting a 5.05 ERA in 27 starts for Louisville with a mediocre walk rate and a poor strikeout rate. But if you look deeper, there are some things to like. He’s dominated right-handed hitters to the tune of a .638 OPS against in Triple-A this year with a strong walk rate and a fringe-average strikeout rate. Left-handed hitters have teed off on him, though, posting a 1.108 OPS against him where he’s also struggled to throw strikes or strike any of them out (10.6% walk AND strikeout rate).
Despite being used as a starter, there have been times where he’s sat 96-98 with his fastball during games. If you have him go out there for just one inning and say “let it go”, that could play up. And if he’s only going to see some right-handers, then there’s a chance you could really see some success. With all of that said, I think there’s a better chance that he’s not recalled than the chance that he is.
Since being sent down to Triple-A earlier this year he’s allowed four runs in 11.0 innings (3.27 ERA) with just 1 walk and he’s struck out seven batters. There’s not a lot to say here – he spent most of the year with the Reds and nothing he’s done in Triple-A suggests he won’t be recalled when rosters do expand.
The last memory of Sal Romano in the Majors was a rough one as he and the Reds got blown out on August 14th in Washington. But aside from that, the right-hander has been dominant between Triple-A and the Major Leagues for the last two months. Dating back to June 26th he’s thrown 36 innings and allowed just 8 earned (2.00 ERA) with 25 hits allowed, 8 walks, and he’s struck out 40 batters. I would expect to see him recalled and help fill some innings out of the bullpen.
On the 40-man roster all season, and with past big league experience, Jackson Stephens has not been called up this year. He’s posted a 5.18 ERA this season in 45 games (2 starts). That’s covered 81.2 innings where he’s allowed 92 hits, 5 home runs, walked 36, and he’s struck out 75 batters. Right-handers have hit him a little better than lefties, but he’s holding the both to an OPS against between .730 and .766. Given all of the different pitchers that they have called up this season, and left him back in Triple-A gives me the feeling that he may not be recalled when the rosters expand.
This doesn’t include Tyler Mahle, who is assuredly being recalled and is slated to make a start this weekend in the double header. It also doesn’t include Cody Reed who has been on the injured list for a while now and may or may not be ready to pitch before the end of the season. With how much usage the bullpens are getting around baseball these days, I’d be surprised if most of these guys aren’t called up. They can all provide some sort of match up advantage.