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.

26 Responses

  1. BUCK

    God willing, Suarez better be at 3b next season for the Reds: no if,ands or buts about it. I understand he struggled with batting average this season, perhaps all of the shenanigans at the beginning of the season contributed to it, i.e., switching to shortstop. Eugenio is a stud! GO REDS!!

      • Luke J

        Do you have to ask? 2020 was a wreck and many players’ stats suffered because of it.

      • MK

        Luke didn’t they make the playoffs in 2020? Give me that wreck every year.

        I think Suarez’s problems can be traced back to the off-season 2019-20 and the surgery that resulted. He rushed to get back but his swing seemed to be off and stay off. The shoulder was weak and he made other adjustments to maintain his power.

  2. Eddie

    Suarez struggle last year on a short year n this normal season. I hope we can either use him and moose away for good players for corner or shortstop. Who knows tho every year is a new season and can shock the world of fan base in a good or a terrible way. This been a fun team to watch in awhile tho. It good to see they finish season on a high note but wish it came earlier in month of September to close it with no sweat. No matter what always gonna be a reds fan til I die

    • TR

      You are correct. Once a Reds fan there’s no turning back.

  3. Michael B. Green

    If CIN declines Tucker Barnhart (which I assume that they will strongly consider), one interesting free agent compliment to Tyler Stephenson is Manny Pina of MIL. Defense is fine. Off offensive season but GABP will help with that. Assume he has good rapport with DJ too from DJ’s MIL days.

    • MK

      Koloszvary is in place to take that spot and Nelson will be there in four years if they need to make another decision. That is the way the system should work and is much cheaper than adding Pina.

      • Jim Walker

        My guess is unless the Reds are in super austerity mode, they will sign a journeyman catcher to back up Stephenson at the start of the season since Kolozsvary has no MLB experience and limited AAA duty.

        Kolozsvary will start as the “#3 catcher” at AAA but depending on how he does offensively and what is going on with the Reds, he could take over the MLB backup spot during the season and definitely by 2023.

    • Jim Walker

      Pina’s seasonal and career OPS+ (95/91) are both better than Barnhart’s comparable OPS+ numbers (78/84).

      Pina has earned 1.2 bWAR this season to Barnhart’s 0.4 bWAR; For his career, is Pina 6.4, Barnhart 7.2.

      I understand there is a nostalgic attachment to Barnhart; but, if Stephenson is the #1 catcher next year, it makes no baseball or business sense to pay Barnhart $7.5M to catch 50-60 games. He doesn’t add enough value over guys like Pina who will be available for $1.5M-$3M.

      • Old-school

        @ Jim- Bell was just given a 2 year extension. I firmly believe he and Krall are on the same page.
        Votto is DH, Stephenson is 1b and Tucker is catching tonight.

        I believe this is a prelude to some C/DH/1b line ups in 2022. I think Tucker comes back as part of a catching tandem and Stephenson’s bat and 1b and DH capacities allow the Reds to work a deal with Tucker that isnt simply picking up a 7 mil option. They could work something out that AAV for 2 years makes sense.

        A catching tandem at the level of TB and TS with TS big bat at DH and first base positional flexibility to spell JV and only say $5 mil combined for a good catching corps makes sense.

        I think Tucker is coming back.

      • Jim Walker

        OS> TB may be back but not at $7.5M. And don’t look by that they will need that DH spot to accommodate Moose or Votto next year. So the issue becomes who brings the most offensively, Barnhart or the guy he replaces if TS moves out from behind the plate?

        My guess is that if TS is healthy, he will catch ~100 games next year. It will be his third time around with the Reds. At some point, the argument they need Barnhart to teach TS about the Reds pitchers and opposition hitters goes bankrupt.
        As new guys both as Reds pitchers and the hitters on other teams make the big show, Stephenson may actually have greater prior exposure to them than Barnhart or anyone else who has been at MLB over 3-5 years.
        As I said maybe at $3M or less TB is back; but, there is no value baseball or business in going to $7.5m for what that job is next year.

  4. Redgoggles

    It’s a win if he > Cody Reed, which seems like a fairly low threshold…….although CR may get a ring.

  5. Rednat

    if the reds were still in the race, I wonder who would be pitching tonight?

  6. MK

    Between O’Brien and Sanmartin O’Brien got the short straw. Reiver get last place Pirates for debut, O’Brien the Division Champion Sox.

    Surprised they sent down Perez to bring OBrien since Sanmartin won’t be able to pitch again before Sunday.

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      Lol MK please stop it with the logic. It’s not logical to expect them to be logical?

    • Doc

      Who pitches Sunday? If SanMartin is sent down I don’t believe he can be recalled that soon. Miley is done. Nobody who starts the rest of this week can start Sunday. Makes more sense to pitch Riley and keep Sanmartin, then send Riley down for a reliever and have Sanmartin available to start Sunday.

  7. Indy Red Man

    When are they expected to announce whether the univeral DH is coming back next year? The Reds are really forced to go out and find some lefty killers in the offseason, but of course the DH factors into a ton! It might have been Old School, but somebody suggested CJ Cron a month or 2 ago. He’s got a .994 ops vs lhp this year and .844 overall. 2 HRs and a double in 19 at-bats at gabp. I don’t know if he can play OF, but he’d be a cheap lefty killer

    • Doug Gray

      That’s going to be a part of the CBA….. so it’s going to be a while. Current CBA doesn’t end until December 1st. I’d be shocked if they signed a new one before then.

      • Votto4life

        Doug, is extended play-offs likely to be part of the new CBA? I believe I read that the owners wanted to add two more WC teams for each league. Similar to last year?

      • Doug Gray

        The owners definitely want it because it means more money in their pocket.

      • Jim Walker

        Could also be a legit statement by which Dec. 1. 😉

  8. Doc

    Don’t players also get playoff bonuses? (Rhetorical question)

    • VegasRed

      I love the addition of CJ Cron. Legit 1B or DH power bat vs lefties. Allows TS to catch and JV off days at 38 against most lefties and if injury takes him out for a period.

      Reds should have gone after him at the trade deadline as suggested on the nation.

      I don’t see them signing a bigger bat than that even to replace casty as I think they will go with whom they already have available including Deshields and friedel. Maybe that means better defense and base running next year which couldn’t hurt.