For the second straight day the Cincinnati Reds will be calling up a pitcher to make their Major League debut. Earlier today it was left-handed pitcher Reiver Sanmartin making his debut. Tomorrow against the Chicago White Sox it’s going to be right-handed pitcher Riley O’Brien.
It’s been 13 months, almost to the day, that the Cincinnati Reds acquired Riley O’Brien. The Reds picked him up on August 28th of 2020 when Cincinnati traded Cody Reed to Tampa Bay.
Riley O’Brien’s 2021 season has been spent in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats. The 26-year-old has made 22 starts and one relief appearance – which came as a 5-inning relief appearance following a rehab appearance start from Lucas Sims.
During the season he’s battled some inconsistency. His ERA by month this year are as follows: 2.86, 8.02, 2.77, 4.91, 4.58. Overall for the season he’s posted a 4.55 ERA in112.2 innings while allowing 93 hits, walking 55 batters, and striking out 121.
Riley O’Brien Scouting Report
You’re going to get four pitches from Riley O’Brien: Fastball, curveball, slider, and a change up. The fastball has been up to 98 MPH in the past, but getting that high has been a rarity since he arrived in the Reds organization. This season he’s sat mostly in the 92-94 MPH range and touched a tad higher. His breaking pitches work in the low 80’s. The change up is a bit firm and works in the upper 80’s.
Riley O’Brien’s control hasn’t been great this season. As noted, he’s walked 55 batters in 112.2 innings. That’s a walk rate of 11.2%. But he’s also hit 10 batters on top of that. That’s a pretty high rate of free baserunners this season.
For his season he’s had a 45% ground ball rate – so he’s been a tad better than the Triple-A league average. This season his OPS against lefties is better than his OPS against righties, but that may not hold true in the long run. Lefties have hit .214/.327/.381 against him, while righties have hit .227/.333/.414 against him. Lefties, however, had 25 walks and 38 strikeouts against him, while righties have 30 walks and 83 strikeouts against him. Left-handed hitters simply haven’t been able to find the grass when they’ve made contact as often this year, but they are making a lot more contact, walking a lot more frequently, and hitting for about the same power as righties are.
What to expect
You never really know what you’re going to get from a player making their Major League Baseball debut, particularly with a pitcher. Riley O’Brien has enough stuff to be a solid big league pitcher, but he’s going to need to be on the good side of the “not consistent” ledger he’s had this season against a quality White Sox lineup.