The Cincinnati Reds have decided to bring back right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland. The 34-year-old has re-signed with Cincinnati, but he’s coming back on a minor league deal this year and has an invitation to big league camp. That brings the total for the Reds in Goodyear to 66 players.

After having a strong season in 2021 while pitching for three different teams – the Tampa Bay Rays, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Milwaukee Brewers – where he posted a 2.61 ERA in 57 games, Hunter Strickland signed with Cincinnati for the 2022 season. Things went in the wrong direction for the righty as he posted an ERA of 4.91 in 66 games for the Reds. His walk rate went up, and his strikeout rate went down, and those things happened alongside of him allowing more hits than he had in the previous year (46 in 58.2 innings versus 61 in 62.1 innings).

The splits for Strickland were all over the place. He had more success against righties than lefties – holding righties to a .753 OPS and lefties to an .837 OPS. But that came in a strange way as he walked nearly as many righties as he struck out (21 walks, 25 strikeouts). Against lefties he had 12 walks and 35 strikeouts. The big difference was that his BABIP against righties was .257, while against lefties it was .366.

When you look at his home and road splits, he pitched much better on the road. At Great American Ball Park he posted a 5.97 ERA and gave up six home runs in 31.2 innings. When he was outside of Cincinnati he posted a 3.82 ERA and allowed just two home runs in 30.2 innings. His OPS against was nearly 200 points (.882 to .686).

His first half and second half numbers were quite different, too. In the first half he posted a 5.40 ERA and had 21 walks with 29 strikeouts, while batters had an .813 OPS against him. In the second half his ERA was a more respectable 4.34, he had 12 walks and 31 strikeouts, and his OPS against was .763.

When you look at his season on a month-by-month basis he was very bad in April and in July. His ERA was 9.82 in April and 7.59 in July. April, in particular, was really tough as he walked 11 batters with just five strikeouts. He pitched well in the other months of the season.

What’s also interesting is looking at his pitch usage as the season went along. From April through July he threw his fastball 59% of the time and his change up 13% of the time. Over the final two months of the season he used his 4-seamer just 45% of the time, dropped his change up usage to just 6%, and started using a sinker a little bit (9% compared to just 1%).

From the start of May through the end of the season he posted a 4.25 ERA with 22 walks and 55 strikeouts in 58 games that covered 55.0 innings. That’s a solid big league reliever. There were a few tough outings in there, but overall you’re not going to be bothered by that line at the end of the season. April, of course, happened – but if Strickland can avoid that kind of month and perform like he did the rest of the season, then things could work out well.

As it goes with almost all minor league signings, there’s little risk in bringing a guy in on a minor league deal. And with Hunter Strickland there may be a little bit of upside there.

29 Responses

  1. Bdh

    Oh boy. I guess on a minor league deal it isn’t hurting anything but there’s 3-4 other NRI pitchers (Duarte, Law, Norris, Young) I’d rather get the call before him at this moment. Then again if he’s closer to 2021 when he had a great season in line with most of his career then this minor league deal could turn out to be good.

  2. Mark Moore

    Here’s to seeing the Second-half Strickland 😀

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    Strickland despite his solid numbers from May thru end of season, received so many shots that were clutch to the rival being in most cases hits or homers to tie the game or putting the Reds trailing at 8th or 9th innings blowing the saving chance.

  4. Steven Ross

    Oh boy! More opportunities to see Reds blow leads in the 8th and 9th.

    • Bdh

      He wouldn’t be throwing the 8th and 9th if he makes it this year. Diaz is locked in as the closer. Sims and Farmer should be the other late inning arms + Santillan and Antone when they return

  5. Michael B. Green

    Depth move due to Antone and Santillan unable to ever become healthy.

    • David

      Very likely. I don’t expect to see Antone pitch for the Reds this season, or likely ever again. I think he now has irreparable arm damage. Which is really just a shame for him, in particular.
      Tony Santillan should have been a starter, not a reliever, and I think the up-and-down of being in the bull pen messed up his arm (and back). Maybe he comes back this year, maybe not.

  6. Hotto4Votto

    Now that’s the Reds we know and love. Leave no trash heap unturned.

  7. Jeremy L

    I’d actually like to see the Reds resign Mike Minor. This time though, used as a reliever. He’s had a lot of success in that role in the past. He’s a lefthander and even last year the first time through the lineup he held hitters to a 665 ops, left-handers hit .232 against him

  8. Tom Mitsoff

    As a minor-league placeholder and innings eater in blowouts, fine. But I have no interest in seeing him in a Reds uniform again. His inconsistency was very consistent.

  9. Melvin

    Oh Boy is right. Thinking of all the painful appearances he had last year.

  10. LDS

    This moves tells us two things: the Reds’ pitching staff is in worse shape than they’ve admitted and that Bell has too much clout in the FO. There are better options available but Bell likes Strickland as his usage demonstrated repeatedly. That 67 game forecast looks even shakier.

    • Harry Stoner

      I’m not sure if point #1 is certain yet, but I would agree wholeheartedly with point #2.

      Bell’s bromance with Strickland was some of the clearest evidence in 2022 that he was disconnected with what was really happening on the field.

      Citing ERA or BB numbers for Strickland without context tells little or nothing of the misery he produced last season.

      How many of the BBs were to the first batter faced? How many batters who walked then scored? How many leads were blown, how many games put out or reach?

      How many inherited runners did he let in that were charged to someone else’s ERA? How many of his scoreless innings were those following him allowing any or all inheirited runners to score?

      These would provide a “Misery Index” for Strickland which would give a far clearer picture of the damage done while he was on the mound.

      Shedding this guy was one of the better moves of the off season. Now he’s back and you know he’s going to be Bell’s favorite once again.

      Makes you wonder if it was part of Bell’s plan all along.

      • Doug Gray

        Strickland pitched in 66 games. He came into a game with runners on base only 7 times. Only twice did he let runners score – once in May and once at the end of August.

      • Harry Stoner

        A surprising number of only 4 (of 14) inheirited runners scored and 10 “bequeathed” runners, 4 more of which scored.

        Along with his own.

        A tough sell job to paint this guy’s work rosey.

      • MK

        How many scored when nobody was on base.

  11. Redsvol

    Hoo boy. We better buckle up for some David bell lambasting. Really, we wouldn’t be better off giving AA pitchers a chance than recycling this?

    • greenmtred

      As others have pointed out, relief pitchers tend to be pretty unpredictable. It’s a job that comes with some pressure, and they rarely have enough time in an appearance–unlike a starter–to make adjustments. Many things could affect them negatively; a blot of gravy, a bit of spoiled beef, an underdone potato. This is a minor league signing by a team that is making no pretense of being competitive. Evidently some of you have managed to hack secret communications and found proof of a David Bell-fueled conspiracy. This is disturbing, to say the least, and I fervently hope that you will bring this to the attention of a grand jury.

  12. Bdh

    Chase Anderson back with the reds now too. Glad to see that move

  13. MK

    If he or Anderson are on opening day roster I will not attend a game this season.

  14. Reddawg2012

    If Hunter Strickland pitches meaningful innings in 2023, it will mean things are not going well for the Reds IMO.

    • greenmtred

      But what if he’s pitching well?

      • MK

        Hope we don’t have the opportunity to find out.

  15. 2020ball

    Meh, he’s fine as depth. The pen is not strong so no reason why not especially on a minor league deal probably with an opt out. He’s not amazing, but as the last guy in the pen im fine with it.