The Cincinnati Reds are either pushing Andrew Abbott’s start back, or potentially skipping him in the rotation. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer relayed the news that Connor Phillips would be starting on Wednesday against Detroit. That would be jumping ahead of Abbott in the rotation. Wittenmyer also noted that at least for now the Reds have TBD listed as their starter for Thursday.
Abbott has been the Reds best starter this season. He leads the starters with a 3.64 ERA in his 18 starts. Only Graham Ashcraft has had a larger workload this season. And it’s perhaps that workload that is why Cincinnati is doing what they’re doing this week – whether it’s just pushing him back or it’s skipping him this time around entirely. In 2022 he threw 118.0 innings, and including his time at Virginia and then his time after the draft in 2021 he threw 119.2 innings. This season he’s thrown 153.0 innings. And there are still about three weeks left in the regular season, and the organization (and you, the reader) probably hope some postseason playing time, too.
Perhaps that extra time will allow him to get a little something extra down the stretch. The Reds and Abbott certainly have more information about how he’s feeling, recovering after each start now compared to earlier in the year, etc. With that said, given where the club is in the standings and how few games remain, one less start from the guy that’s been the team’s best pitcher could be quite important.
Jose Barrero to the Dominican Republic
No, the Reds didn’t trade Barrero to another country. But Barrero has signed with Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League where he is planning to play following the year. The league begins on October 19th, with the playoffs running until January. Most players do not play from the start to the finish. Early on there are usually more younger, unestablished players that are getting playing time. Then as the season goes along older players begin to trickle into the league and starting playing every day.
For the Cincinnati Reds and Jose Barrero what he can do this winter, prior to spring training, could be pivotal. After beginning the year in the big leagues, he struggled and was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville. That’s where he’s been for the last three months. The important thing to note here is that due to his being optioned he’s now out of options following this season.
It’s possible that doesn’t matter. The club could move him in the offseason. It’s possible that they don’t tender him a contract following this season. It’s possible that they could designate him for assignment. The latter two things feel very unlikely.
Barrero has hit better in Triple-A than he did in the big leagues. But he’s still not hitting as well as he hit in Triple-A prior to breaking his hamate bone. Back in 2021 he hit .306/.392/.594 in 200 plate appearances for Louisville with 20 walks and 44 strikeouts. This season he’s hitting .245/.318/.502 in 285 plate appearances for Louisville. He’s walked just 19 times and he’s struck out 94 times. Neither of those rates are good. He’s showing plenty of power, but the other aspects of his offensive output simply hasn’t been good. That could be one of the reasons that he hasn’t been called up as the club has cycled through many others in the last few months.
Spending time over the winter playing in the top winter league in the world, Barrero will see good pitching most nights – though it won’t often be big league pitching, though some big leaguers will be there. His defense has never been in question. He’s capable of playing a quality shortstop, second base, and center field. It’s what happens at the plate that’s been in question over the last two years. While the 2022 season can be given plenty of leeway because of the wrist injury, that shouldn’t still be an issue in 2023. He is hitting better, but it’s the pitch recognition and decision making on what to swing at that’s still an issue he has to overcome.