Over the first 10 starts of the season Vladimir Gutierrez had his ups-and-downs, much like you’d expect from a rookie. But in that span he seemed to be getting by at times by the skin of his teeth, as they say. He had just three starts with at least six strikeouts, and in total he had 25 walks and 37 strikeouts in 54.1 innings while giving up 11 home runs. The peripherals would have suggested a much worse outcome than a 4.97 ERA in that stretch.

He went eight days between his 10th start and his 11th start. And since then things have changed in a big way for the Cuban-born right-handed starter. In the six starts since he’s posted a 1.86 ERA while allowing just three home runs in 38.2 innings, walking just 10 batters, and he’s struck out 36.

Home runs are way down. Walks are way down. Strikeouts are way up. That’s a good recipe for improvement.

The big difference could be that he’s throwing less curveballs and more change ups. In those first 10 starts his curveball was his choice 22% of the time and he threw the change up just 8% of the time. But in the last six starts he’s thrown the curveball just 14% of the time and gone to the change up 15% of the time. Both his fastball and slider selection has remained the same in both stretches. Basically, he’s doubled the usage of his change up at the expense of throwing fewer curveballs.

While it’s tough to directly link that to the change in his batted ball profile without taking a very deep dive into things, his groundball rate has gone from 38% in that first 10-game stretch to 47% over the last six games. That’s going from below league average to above-league average when it comes to generating ground balls.

Baseball is about adjusting to what is and what isn’t working. Gutierrez seems to have found something that is working very well right now.

Tyler Naquin wins Player of the Week

Tyler Naquin has been killing the ball for the last 12 games. In that span he’s hit .457/.500/.935 with five doubles, a triple, and five home runs. On Monday he was named the National League Player of the Week. In the seven games last week he hit .500/.552/1.154 while scoring nine runs, driving in five, and walked more than he struck out.

His recent run has pushed his season line up to .268/.333/.482 with 22 doubles, a triple, and 18 home runs. Naquin has even added in five stolen bases for good measure. That’s not a bad run for a guy who was seen as arguably, at best, the 4th outfielder when the season began.

60 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    Reds org have a lot of success stories this year, both at the MLB level and MiLB level. It’s exciting to see.

  2. Alan Horn

    He is my CF going forward into next season. Of course, I think he is a FA and they have to sign him. He has stated he likes Cincinnati so hopefully they get it done with him, Barnhart(no brainer as he has a team option), Lorenzen, Givens, Wilson, Farmer and Castellanous. That is a lot of money and they will have to eat some money with some players or bring them back as high paid reserves.

    • Alan Horn

      You have close to $30 million a year in Suarez and Moose that is for all practical purposes unproductive with the bat. That is a large pill to swallow for a small market team like the Reds.

    • AllTheHype

      Naquin is arb3 in 2022, controlled by Reds for another year.

      • Alan Horn

        I was thinking he had enough time in with Cleveland to be a FA next season. So I was one year off. I might sign him for another year or 2 since McClain is our nearest prospect who could play CF.

      • A

        I might add that I don’t see the Reds hitting the FA market anytime soon for a top FA. Not with the Moose, Suarez and Votto contracts. Plus, if we sign Castellanous and with what Winker will get going forward.

      • LGR

        If there able to move at least one of Suarez/Moose, I would love to have them look into Pham. Dude gives you a professional at bat at all times. No offense to Naquin at all. Pham’s getting up there in age so, maybe the Reds could afford him. Getting Nick a new contract should be the priority though.

    • AllTheHype

      Naquin, I will say, is an asset to Reds against RHP and I’m sure he’ll be on the team next year. It sets up Senzel very well for that utility role next year, to spell Naquin against LHP and play elsewhere against RHP.

      • Alan Horn

        I agree if Senzel can just stay healthy. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to see what he can do over a larger sample size.

    • Jim Walker

      Believe Naquin is arbitration controlled for 2022. Non tendered last year by Cleveland but he still does not have enough time to be an FA on his own

    • Jack

      I like him better in RF once Castellanos departs. He is below average as a CF but should be a fine RG.

    • Gonzo Reds

      I wouldn’t label anything a no brainer with this front office. Barnhart is a great defensive catcher, has hit above his career numbers this year, and is a great team mate / great in the community but… the option $ are likely more than this front office will pay so I predict they don’t pick up the option. Not sure what they will do as a backup next year in his place. Bring back Corky Miller! 😉

      • Dave

        Barnhart will not come back if we resign Nick.

  3. Klugo

    Guti is pitching with confidence. It’s been cool watching his development at the Big League level, in relatively short order, really. He’s made a believer outta me.

  4. JB WV

    Thanks Doug, especially for the breakdown on Vlad. Have to think DJ was involved in the transition to more change ups, and has certainly increased his confidence and poise on the mound. What looked like a temporary patch job through his first 10 starts now looks like a solid piece to the rotation.

  5. Indy Red Man

    Vlad has to be one of the smartest rookie pitchers I’ve ever seen. Or extremely coachable? Whatever it is…its working! Its all about confidence and command! He’ll walk guys at times, but its usually because he doesn’t want to give in. Its not just temporarily being unable to throw strikes like Mahle or some of our relievers. When you’re pounding the zone and put guys in swing mode then you’ll see 6 innings on 80 pitches.

    • Indy Red Man

      “Naquin has even added in five stolen bases for good measure”

      What is this stolen base of which you speak? I think Bell should have our guys with wheels (all 3.5 of them) take some shots on the road in September. If you’re going to sit around and wait for 3 run HRs in SF/LA then you’ll get what we got in Atlanta last year.

  6. CI3J

    The Reds really need to trade some pitchers away to make room for the up-and-coming talent waiting in the minors. Vlad’s development has been a pleasant surprise, and gives the Reds even more flexibility in this regard. If they can trade a pitcher or two for some outfield help, which they desperately need, and even moreso if Castellanos opts out, it would be a win-win for the Reds. I wonder what a package of Aquino and Castillo could bring, or Aquino and Gray.

    I also hope this will allow them to end the Senzel outfield experiment and let him play his natural infield positions.

    It should be interesting seeing what the Reds do this offseason to address the obvious holes in the team.

    • Chris

      What holes on this team are you speaking of, other than 3rd base? And by the way, 3rd base is not going to change in the near future. The Reds are forced to give Suarez and Moose a LONG look, because of salary. Outside of 3rd base, where are the holes? You mentioned the outfield. Our outfield is among the most productive in all of baseball. Our starters are among the elite, and our bullpen looks WAY worse than it actually is today.

      • wkuchad

        Biggest hole to fill will be the bullpen. Unless we resign them, we lose our two best bullpen arms (Lorenzen and Givens).

        I’d love to resign them both (if we can afford it) AND we need to sign one reliable lefty for the bullpen.

      • RojoB

        “ The Reds are forced to give Suarez and Moose a LONG look, because of salary. ”

        This is a fallacy. The fastest way to make money to cover these huge contracts is to WIN. If the big contract guys aren’t getting you wins, then it’s counterproductive to play them.

        The owner that says to himself, “i’m paying these guys to play, not sit,” but then those players give zero return on investment, then that owner is paying those players for negative production. At that point, big salary or no, it helps the team if they don’t play

      • Alan Horn

        Absolutely correct RojoB. Sit them on the bench if you wish to keep them but they are hurting the team when they start. They are a hole in the batting order worse than the pitcher’s spot most games. When you start AA and Akiyama in the same game you have 4 holes in the lineup(counting the pitcher). The DH next season will be a huge help to the Reds.

      • Indy Red Man

        Gotta beg to differ RojoB.

        You think Senzel would still be around after 10 trips to the IL and .700 ops when he plays if he was a 14th rounder? Teams don’t just eat big investments and move on. Maybe LA or NY because they have endless pockets

        They gave Suarez plenty of rope because he had a .925 ops in 2019 and was among the leaders in HRs for a 3 year period. 2019 wasn’t that long ago although it feels like it. Anything pre-Covid seems like forever ago

      • Chris

        Indy is spot on. Teams don’t just throw money away by dumping someone they paid a lot of money to, because those guys were paid a lot of money for a reason. Suarez has a great track record, and Moose has a very solid one too, so you don’t just give up on them after less than a full season. Both Moose and Geno’s baseball card’s suggest they are much better than what we have seen. By the way, I will guarantee you that one of them, if they get past the one game wild card game, will benefit this team in the post season. I’m as bothered by their results this season as much as anyone else, but they both have to be better than what we have seen; I think Moose will for sure. Geno, not sure; the secret seems to be out on him.

      • Alan Horn

        Check out their age Chris. Like the song says “you got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them and know when to run”. It is time to run

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    Gutierrez really just has 3 poor outings in this season, two against Padres and another to Mets those are increasing his stats a lot. Aside that , Vlad would be considered a top 5 rookie this year…

  8. MBS

    Gutierrez is my #3 next year. Castillo, Miley, Gutierrez, Lodolo, Greene. They should trade Gray and Mahle, the return should be good, and the freed up money might allow the Reds to keep Castellanos next year. It’s doubtful he picks up the option on his contract.

    • RedsGettingBetter

      The return from Gray and Mahle theorical tradings should be very good even could get a good hitter to replace Castellanos if he definitely decides optout and get the BP stronger. However, Reds would be taking his chances with a rotation including 2 rookies (despite their upsides) and a 2nd-year starter (Gutierrez) that is always umpredictable how they will perform facing a MLB full season …

    • wkuchad

      Teams rarely get through the year with only 5 starters. No way I trade two reliable starters and replace with two rookies with no ML experience, and have no one left at AAA.

      At most I trade one of our current starters, then let Green OR Lodolo start. The other one is starting in AAA ready to come up as soon as there’s an injury.

      • MBS

        Normally I’d agree with you, but these are 2 highly rated pitchers. If we weren’t in a playoff chase, they’d probably be up here now. Also I wouldn’t discount Ashcraft as the player left at AAA. Antone is also a possible rotation candidate.

        They can’t, or won’t just throw money everywhere. For me Castellanos is a bigger priority than a 5th starter.

      • Joe

        Another thing to consider is you probably don’t wNt both Greene and Lodolo becoming free agents the same year so I’m all for staggering them.

    • TyRad

      Greene is 3-6 with a 4.18 ERA in AAA. He’s another year (or at least half a year) away. Lodolo has 6.2 innings in AAA with an ERA over 5. Give him some time. We’re in a window where we can contend so why push out legit MLB level starters to rush prospects?

    • AllTheHype

      I’m all for trading Gray. Undersized starting pitchers rarely age well. Good time to reduce payroll and get some young talent in return. Mahle is needed for depth, though, and he’s not a strain on payroll. If I were Reds FO I’d listen on Mahle, but I’d have to REALLY like what I hear from other teams.

      • Alan Horn

        It would depend on what Gray would bring back for me. He is still a pretty solid pitcher. If Castellanous leaves we would need a solid RF replacement. If he doesn’t leave, I keep Gray until the deadline or maybe earlier depending on what Greene and Lodolo do in AAA next season. Neither have mastered AAA yet.

    • Gonzo Reds

      Don’t be so sure Castellanos doesn’t pick up his option. It guarantees him making some $ in a year there’s a very real chance there is not baseball due to strike / lock out. If he doesn’t pick it up he risks not having a contract and then signing for almost nothing if a deal is reached and we actually play a partial schedule.

      • Jim Walker

        As a Boras client I see Castellanos as a canary in the coal mine on the CBA/ possible lockout situation b/c Boras will have a true insiders’s read on what is likely to go down. Unless of course the owners lockout an hour after the World Series ends

  9. Jim Walker

    It is amazing what perpetual losing does to fans. Here the Reds are on August 24 in a playoff position and about to start a series which could determine if they have a shot of winning the division or are limited to wild card aspirations. Yet most folks here want to talk offseason trades impacting next year. And I am scolding myself too!

    • wkuchad

      For me, it’s not because I’ve given up on this year. It’s that I actually have a lot of hope for the next several years. We have a perfect blend of performing veterans (Cast, Wink, Votto), very good starting pitching (in ALL five slots), contributing rookies (2nd, catcher, SP), and minor leaguers ready for the next level (Barrero, Greene, Lodolo). I don’t want to hurry this year, but it’s actually fun to think about next year. I mean, this year has been a success even if we don’t make the playoffs. The Reds have been so much fun to watch.

      • RojoB


        Forward thinking teams like St Louis do this. The Reds missed one chance for this when they went all in on Suárez at 3B instead of trading him when Senzel was ready.

        Has Suárez been a part of any playoff success? Will he be a part of the next (great) Reds’ team? Unless they win a lot this year while he’s still in the team, the answer is not yes

    • MBS

      I’m enjoying the playoff run as well, but baseball is unique because of the minor leagues. You get to watch your team’s future players improve year after year. It doesn’t diminish the present for me at all.

    • Rednat

      i think a lot of this Jim is that you probably have to go back to the mid 1980’s to find a time when the future was so bright for the reds when you had Larkin and Davis and Oneil coming up. yes i think we can make the playoffs this year but i do believe within the next 3 years a world series could be played in Cincinnati

      • Jim Walker

        +1000 for the optimism. I hope it is spot on. But look at all guys we thought would be part of this wave/ window who are not. Just never know. Grab it when and while opportunities allow.

    • Redsvol

      I agree Jim. I just came back from watching us play the Marlins and I don’t see much need to look at free agent market. They need to get more production from third base of course but I think thats going to have to come internally. They need a better 9th inning guy (they had 2 before 2021 rolled around) but I also think that can come internally from current roster. With health, our Reds are set up for a sustainable 3-5 year run of competing for the Division or Wild Card. I am looking very much forward to following it and seeing what our wonderful RLN writers and poster have to say.

  10. Jim t

    Huge series in Milwaukee. Brewers are 7-3 over their last 10 games same as Reds. While I know the reds have overcome injuries to keep performers all year I wish we had Winker for these 3 games. Many players have stepped up but it will take a huge effort to get 2 of 3 without Jesse. Hope we can get it done.

  11. Old-school

    I was at game sunday and Gutierrez threw 12 strikes and no balls in the first inning and 22 strikes and 2 balls after innings

    He mixed his pitches and threw off speed g Dh or strikes andvattacked hitters

    Stephenson has formed a nice battery with Castillo and Vlad

    • AllTheHype

      Of the 12 though, 4 were out of the zone, and were strikes only because of chase. So he is throwing out of the zone, strategically, just getting chase, which is what any pitcher wants. It’s what Mahle wants too, but doesn’t always get, hence pitch count issues.

  12. Jim Walker

    Chris Welch likes to say that every pitch needs to look like a potential strike out of the pitcher’s hand. That is probably a difference here. Gutierrez pitches look better than they end up because of initial location and subsequent movement.

  13. LDS

    Like the last line:

    “Baseball is about adjusting to what is and what isn’t working. Gutierrez seems to have found something that is working very well right now.”

    Any chance JV or Gutierrez could sit down and explain reality to Suarez?

  14. Steve Schoenbaechler

    “Baseball is about adjusting to what is and what isn’t working. Gutierrez seems to have found something that is working very well right now.”

    That’s why I believe in waiting for rookies to extend them till their 2nd season, after their 2nd season if I can resist it. For, I want to see how other teams adjust, give them time to adjust, as well as how that player will adjust.

    That’s why I’m not quite convinced in locking up India yet, though I am looking at it. I would lock up Mahle and Winker, I believe. I’ve definitely seen improvement in those 2.

  15. Mark Moore

    I see Vlad as #3 with a bullet right now. He’s been fun to watch develop this season.

    • TR

      Vlad has certainly put a lock on #5 this season.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m with you I feel like Vlad has really good potential to be a good #3 in our rotation. In our rotation, If he is farther back then we have a really nice rotation going.

    • west larry

      And Dolittle was DFA and Antone is activated.

    • Chris Holbert

      Maybe being an ex-Brewer will motivate him

  16. JA

    One in redleg nation said the other day about some Vlad pitching gestures resembles Tom Seaver.

    I know I know… that guy is the new P Rose or the new Johnny B… but that was said here

    • Alan Horn

      That was also said on the air by one of the announcers. I don’t remember which one and it might not have been one or our announcers.