The Cincinnati Reds are close to signing right-handed reliever Pedro Strop according to Hector Gomez of Z101 Sports in the Dominican Republic.

Take this information for what it’s worth, though. A week ago Gomez was reporting that Pedro Strop was down to the Miami Marlins and Texas Rangers. There are reasons why things could have changed, even if that report was correct. A team coming in late with a good offer certainly would make sense.

But let’s talk about whether or not Pedro Strop would make sense for the Cincinnati Reds. Last season was a struggle of sorts for the right-hander. He posted a 4.97 ERA in 41.2 innings where he allowed six home runs, walked 20 batters, and he struck out 49 hitters. But from 2014-2018 he never had an ERA above 2.91 and threw 296.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA in that span.

So what went wrong in 2019? Well, it was three-fold. First was that his home run rate went up. Surprised, right? It’s not like it went up across the entire league because the baseball was juiced. What’s that? My editor has just informed me that the baseball, in fact, was juiced. The next issue is that his walk rate jumped up to 11.2%. That was the highest it had been since the 2012 season. The third and final reason was that his strand rate was a career worst 68.6%.

His strikeout rate in 2019 was 27.5%, which was actually better than his career rate of 26.3%. That is good to see. What wasn’t great to see was that his velocity was down about 2 MPH on his fastball, and a MPH on his slider and cutter. His swinging strike rate on all of his pitches was down significantly from the previous years of his career. Those aren’t exactly great signs to keep a high-end strikeout rate, but it worked for him in 2019.

The walk rate is going to need to improve. In 2019 he threw the lowest rate of pitches in the strikezone in his entire career at 36.4%. It was only the second time in his career he was under 40.7% (2018 was under as well). His strand rate was also the lowest of his career, and 17% lower than it was in 2018. It was only 4% lower than the league average in 2019, but prior to last season you needed to go back to 2013 for the last time Strop didn’t beat the league strand rate.

Now one thing that Pedro Strop does well, and has throughout his career, is generate a ton of ground balls. His ground ball rate in 2019 was 53%. For his career it’s 54%. The league average rate in 2019 was just 42.9% – so Strop finds himself well above-average at getting hitters to put the ball on the ground.

Lots of strikeouts and lots of ground balls is usually a good recipe for success. And that’s what Pedro Strop brings. But he’s going to need to continue to do that, and will likely need to cut back on the walks a little bit, too. The home run rate is something that you’d like to see come back to where it’s been in the past for him – but without knowing how the baseball is going to play in 2020, that one might not be entirely within his control.

27 Responses

  1. BigBill

    Would be a nice pickup. Solid vet that keeps the ball down and lots of strikeouts. Should be a decent price after a down year.

  2. RojoBenjy

    In other words, you think the increased HR was more from sign stealing?

    That’s an interesting thought. (No sarcasm intended.)

  3. David

    Well, that’s kind of scary logical. And could be right.

    And yeah, not sure what to make of this signing. When a reliever loses it, well….they lose it. Pedro Strop may be on the way to a steep decline. Not sure about this signing.
    And Nate Jones is Nate Jones. He is 34 years old and injury prone. I wouldn’t count on him for anything.

  4. Ed

    Strop seems like an Iglesias level head case.

    That said, Hector Gomez is my favorite source. Wasn’t he hyping Ozuna’s FA stock as a reporter with wild claims, while simultaneously representing him?

    • Doug Gray

      Gomez certainly was hyping Ozuna’s asking price – but as a report from someone else. He doesn’t represent anyone, so to speak. He’s been a little hit and miss with his reports. He’s nailed some, and been off on some.

  5. Doug Gray

    There’s physical proof that the baseball is different, leading to less drag, which leads to it traveling further.

    • Tom Reeves

      Where’s that little girl who says “why not both?”

  6. Steve

    Strop had 6 straight season with an ERA under 3…poor 2019 for sure but I cannot imagine any scenario in which he signs a minor league deal. Would definitely like to see if he can have a bounce back campaign with our staff.

  7. MBS

    70% chance he has a comeback year
    100% chance he wears his hat wrong

  8. Hotto4Votto

    He’s a relatively good bet to bounce back in my opinion. A one year dea with incentive boosters for performance would make sense.

  9. Big Ed

    If the HR boom was because of sign-stealing, then you would have to assume that every team in AAA — using the MLB baseball for the first year — was suddenly 50% better at stealing signs than it had ever been in the past.

    It was the ball, just as it was in 1987.

  10. Jrad4reds

    I think he would be a great fit given he isn’t priced to high. He does not need to be that high leverage bullpen guy anymore…He would definitely solidify the back end of the bullpen if he can come back to his career numbers. I watched him a lot when the cubs played the reds and his stuff is good. It’s good to see that the FO has followed a formula when it comes to pitching good gb% and k %…I have followed the Reds religiously since 2006 and this FO is the smartest and most gutsy I have seen since. They have earned my trust.

  11. Bdh

    Didn’t both Thom and Marty complain on air about him and the way he wears his hat? It’ll be interesting to see if Thom will keep it up if he becomes a Red

  12. PhoenixPhil

    Is the main picture a crop of Pedro looking straight forward in a Reds hat?
    (Jumping on the bandwagon.)

  13. KYPodman

    If you cannot wear your hat straight while playing, you don’t play for me, pass!

  14. My Beloved Reds

    I hadn’t thought of that. Good point!!

  15. Tom

    The hat……there are a few that still do that. Drives the purists crazy but if they’re effective then I’ll adjust to him. Not 100% sold we don’t have better arms already. But, let’s hope…..either way I like the aggressiveness of the FO

  16. Streamer88

    The Imitation Game. Amazing movie if you haven’t seen it.

    Without spoiling it, I think the same concept was used with the Astros’ sign-stealing. Once they realized how powerful it was, they realized they had to show restraint in how often they used it or otherwise it would’ve been obvious.

  17. Matt WI

    Agree CP… this need not be what has become a Reds tradition of signing away 2 year contracts to middle relievers for no good reason.

  18. Hotto4Votto

    Can’t believe a bunch of adults really care so much about how another adult wears his hat while playing a game.

  19. Bill J

    Next signing, Scott Kazmir to a minor league deal.

  20. Michael E

    I saw a lot of fans blowing hard after the batters swung…the flags waived harder about 5 seconds after every pitch.

  21. B-town fan

    Maybe straightening his bill will be the last little adjustment that Derek Johnson can make to his delivery that will make him the best pitcher he can be. The conversation would go something like this, Derek speaking ” you know Pedro that crooked bill, you can see that in your periphery vision and it is messing with your balance in your delivery to the plate”. Pedro speaking ” but coach it’s cool it makes me stand out, I like being noticed”. Derek speaking ” well maybe there is another way we can find, to satisfy your need to be noticed”. A bit of tongue and cheek there but honestly if he and his crooked bill signs here and gets people out, that’s great, it’s what matters, but it still doesn’t change the fact that it looks silly.