If you ask 10 Cincinnati Reds fans what the biggest problem with the team has been in 2021 you will probably get a few different answers. Many will focus on third base. The others will probably mention the bullpen. With the bullpen issues, it’s not like the organization hasn’t tried to fix it. One can argue they didn’t try hard enough during the season – waiting until the trade deadline to bring in outside help, for example. But the team has used 29 pitchers out of the bullpen this season (and three position players on top of that). One guy that they haven’t tried is 25-year-old Dauri Moreta.
The right-handed reliever began the season in Double-A Chattanooga. Back in 2019 he posted a 2.35 ERA for then Advanced-A Daytona, but didn’t pitch in 2020 with the minor league season cancelled and he wasn’t invited to pitch at the teams alternate site. In 18 games this year with Chattanooga he allowed three earned runs in 26.2 innings with five walks and 37 strikeouts.
That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Louisville at the end of the first week of July. He’s also thrown 18 games with the Bats this season. He’s yet to allow an earned run in 20.2 innings. Moreta has given up just nine hits, walked just four batters, and he’s struck out 18 of the 76 batters he’s faced (24%) in his time in Triple-A.
To put it all together, he’s thrown 47.1 innings with a 0.76 ERA, a 0.74 WHIP, 26 hits allowed, nine walks, and 55 strikeouts. Those numbers are impressive on their own. But let me drop this stat on you: Dauri Moreta has allowed just 13 line drives all season. He’s gotten 17 infield fly balls in 2021.
The question remains: Why hasn’t he been called up? The easy answers would include things like “he’s not on the 40-man roster” and “if they called him up at certain points in the year they would have to DFA someone in the bullpen”. Of course that doesn’t hold a ton of water since they’ve called up or brought in other relievers that led to the team either adding them to the 40-man roster or trading for them with the result of having to DFA someone.
It’s also not as if Dauri Moreta is getting by with a weird pitch that might not work in the big leagues. He’s out there sitting 95-96 MPH and touching 98. He’s got a good breaking ball and a change up. Control problems? Nope. As noted above – he’s walked nine batters in 47.1 innings.
When rosters expanded in September it seemed that could be a good time to bring him up. You wouldn’t need to DFA anyone and he almost certainly would improve the team. Instead the team recalled Alejo Lopez and added Delino DeShields to the 40-man and called him up. Both of those players bring something useful to the Reds. Lopez can play a few positions, is a switch hitter who has had success from both sides of the plate in the minors this season, and has made tons of contact this year in the minors, too (though that hasn’t quite translated in his very limited playing time in the big leagues just yet). DeShields is probably the best center fielder on the team from a defensive standpoint now, and he’s a true threat on the bases.
Still, it was a bit surprising that a team with so many struggles in the bullpen opted to not call up a reliever who hasn’t allowed an earned run in two months in Triple-A.
Living in the Moment
Chad Dotson wrote about the Cincinnati Reds once again this week over at Cincinnati Magazine. The premise? Live in the moment and enjoy the playoff push while you can.
Only three times in the last two decades have Reds fans been able to enjoy their team in a pennant race. It’s an absolute crime … but when the Reds were competitive in those years, it was a great time to be a fan.
There’s one month of baseball left. Right now the Cincinnati Reds are holding a half-game lead for the second wild card spot over the San Diego Padres, a 2-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, and a 2.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds also have the easiest schedule remaining in baseball. But the Phillies have the third easiest, too, so the advantage isn’t huge there. San Diego, though, has the toughest remaining schedule, and the Cardinals have the second toughest remaining schedule in the National League.
Sit back and enjoy the ride. Who knows when it’ll happen again.