Eno Sarris of The Athletic released an article this morning that looks at pitcher rankings. In it, he ranks the pitchers around Major League Baseball based on Stuff+, stuff based projections, projected health, and more. The list goes to 150 pitchers – which is enough for every team to have a full 5-man rotation if things were evenly distributed. They aren’t, though. The Cincinnati Reds have six starters in the Top 150 – Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Frankie Montas all rate in the Top 100, with Andrew Abbott and Connor Phillips both inside the Top 125 of the rankings.
Hunter Greene is the top rated pitcher on the Reds staff and he checks in at #32 on the list. Among Cincinnati’s pitchers, Sarris ranks Greene has having the best projected ERA and ranks his Stuff+ the best among the starters in Reds rotation. The write up on Greene has some interesting notes within it, including that only Bobby Miller and Gerrit Cole had a fastball and a secondary offering that rated higher in terms of Stuff+ than Greene’s fastball and slider combination. Of course it also notes that Greene is essentially a 2-pitch pitcher, he’s a fly ball pitcher in a ballpark that loves turning fly balls into homers, and his walk rate is a little below-average.
Greene is the only Reds pitcher to rank inside the top 60. Graham Ashcraft, Frankie Montas, and Andrew Abbott are all rated right around 100 – all within four spots of each other. The rotation for Cincinnati sticks out for it’s depth more than it does for the certainty that they’ve got top tier pitchers. While it wouldn’t surprise anyone if someone, or someones stepped up in 2024 and became a front of the line caliber starter, none of them have shown that they can do that just yet in their career.
When it comes to Stuff+, Greene, Lodolo, Phillips, and Ashcraft are all well above-average. Montas is slightly below-average. But it’s Abbott being well below-average in Stuff+ that surprised me. Coming off of a season in which he threw 109.1 innings, struck out 120 batters, and had a 3.87 ERA, the system used in this article projects him to take a big step backwards in 2024.
Like the offense, the Reds rotation has depth but plenty of questions with it. While both have the reliability thing they need to come out and prove, the pitching side has plenty of question marks about health, too. Hunter Greene missed about 10 starts last season. Graham Ashcraft missed the final month of the season and had surgery on his toe that ended his season. Nick Lodolo missed five months after a stress reaction in his leg popped up not once, but twice in 2023. And then there’s newly signed starter Frankie Montas, who had a shoulder injury that saw him miss the entire 2023 season outside of one outing in the final week of the season.
Cincinnati’s got plenty of upside in the rotation. But their rotation also has a whole lot to prove, too. Between the injuries and the inconsistencies in performance, there’s also a chance that things could be solid but unspectacular even if everyone remains healthy for the most part.