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.

94 Responses

  1. Brian

    My question is how many mlb innings to expect from Lodolo, Montas and Greene. Phillips is kinda hard to count as translating to this level. That whole staff is a question mark. Ashcraft is probably the most established for the season of the bunch. A lot needs to go right, it very well could but it could easily be a real mess too. There’s a chance that the actual innings leader of the team isn’t even listed in the 6 mentioned.

  2. redfanorbust

    “IF” Reds pitching remains relatively health during the season and I am thinking they have a much better chance because of their depth so as no one gets overworked then for me their stuff/talent plays just fine. My main interest will be to see how this young staff performs with heightened expectations starting the season as serious
    contenders for the division. Also there are new players to get used to and some players being asked to play new positions or go to AAA that will also change/disrupt the vibe somewhat from last year not to mention the dreaded sophomore slump . Whatever the outcome, it is going to be a fascinating year to watch while I will be cautiously optimistic.

  3. MBS

    This article said what we all knew, that is the Reds needed to sign a TOR guy. We have 7 solid options, but no star. We need to hope Greene puts it all together this year.

    • Tom Reeves

      With the financial constraints this team has, better on Greene and building depth is provably the smartest move. No one should like it but it’s probably the best strategy.

      • MBS

        Are we constrained to $82M, or are we choosing to stay well under budget? Let’s hope it’s the latter.

        To be completely honest, as much as I like the team that Krall has put together, I’m getting increasingly agitated. Last season the Reds made more money that expected, but our payroll is staying stagnant.

      • BK

        @MBS, I doubt the Reds are constrained to their current payroll number. Instead, they are betting they have the core talent to compete for the Central Division. With three Top 100 pitching prospects very close to MLB-ready and a robust and productive farm, they are trying to avoid the longer-term contracts that almost always leave dead money on the books at some point. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the payroll stay below $100M this year and next year. By the 2025 season, the arbitration bill will begin to grow significantly, and with it, the payroll.

      • MBS

        @BK, So you choose that latter. That’s my thoughts as well. The reason I put it that way was @Tom’s “With the financial constraints this team has” comment implied we couldn’t afford anymore.

        I don’t think any of us know what they are capable of spending, but I think we all agree it starts with a 1. Sub $100M payrolls are choices, not necessities.

      • BK

        And we’ll have more certainty soon. I expect the Forbes data will indicate the Reds have moved past their COVID losses. In the out years, they will likely take a hit on their local TV revenue, but other revenue sources will likely offset that. Another winning season would boost their options a good bit, too. But I agree where they are on payroll today is a choice, not a cashflow constraint.

      • Tom Reeves

        With the shaky TV contract, that might be the constraint but what’s more likely is that the Reds are having some cash to add talent at the deadline for a run if it’s warranted. I expect payroll to rise in 2025 as this team matures and there’s a better understanding of the gaps – plus, the TV deal should be sorted by then.

        I don’t think Bob C is trying to pocket profits from the team. I do think after the $47m loss in 2020 (which was covered by debt), the team is being more conservative in its spending and more deliberate with player development.

      • MBS

        I don’t disagree that the Reds have “good” reasons to be conservative with the payroll. It’s not worth relitigating the merits of the past payroll cuts.

        I do believe the Reds are at the very least currently milking their situation. Now will they go back to spending a reasonable amount? Who knows? If they don’t we may really become the Rays, lack of attendance and all.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS The Rays don’t lack attendance because they lack a quality product. If we had the quality product the Rays have year in and year out, we will not be lacking attendance. So that aspect is amiss in your reply.

        As for your other arguments, Reds should not be spending just to get payroll to a certain level. They should be spending to field a quality team, whatever level that is (subject to certain constraints in the low to mid $100s obviously). They’ve done that.

        You could argue the Reds should make a $150M commitment to a player like Jordan Montgomery. That’s not a payroll constraint discussion as much as a playing time discussion. You’re committing 6 or 7 years of starts every 5th day, regardless of performance. If the contract turns sour immediately like the Corbin free agent one did, or Strasburg, or Bailey or many other $100M pitching commitments did, then you’ll be committing to those awful starts every 5th day regardless of the 5 or 6 ERA that they come with. That’s the issue at hand. Not $, it’s playing time. I don’t think the Reds should be risking a contract like that, because of playing time, not dollars. And the Reds seem to agree.

      • Doug Gray

        If it wasn’t about the money then the team would simply not commit the playing time to the guy you’re talking about.

      • AllTheHype

        @Doug,
        The money necessitates a commitment to playing time, for ALL teams. Even the Yankees commit playing time for $100M contracts. They got 14 starts of 6.85 ERA last year from Rodon. They didn’t DFA him. Instead they’re committed to more this year. Why? Because he’s locked into $162M deal. The money necessitates a commitment to playing time, for several years. Reds tried to squeeze some value out of the Bailey contract, for years. Nats with Corbin. So those contracts can be a double whammy, and it’s the playing time that hurts as much as the $$ outlay.

        I would argue the Strasburg and Corbin contracts single handed sent the Nats into a rebuild. They took all the available resources away from the team while guaranteeing Corbin years of bad starts.

      • Doug Gray

        Which is fine – but it’s about the money.

      • AllTheHype

        And why are the Yankees still giving playing time to Giancarlo? A: The $$ value of the contract demands playing time.

      • MBS

        @All, “As for your other arguments, Reds should not be spending just to get payroll to a certain level.”

        I have never argued that. I have argued that they have been to cheap to sign the players that would have the biggest impacts. Sonny Gray is a low hanging fruit example, but why couldn’t we have signed him? He’s a TOR type guy, he signed a short term deal, and we had all the room you could ask for in budget space. If we exchanged his salary for the later signed Montas, we’d be at $93M in payroll.

        I’ve said it many times I like our team, but to act like this kind of spending is going to result in championships is fanciful.

      • BK

        There’s merit to both sides of this argument. I agree with MBS; the Reds could have matched the contract for Gray from a financial perspective. Electing to go with Montas vice Gray puts the burden of production on the Red’s young arms. At least with what info we have as fans, it’s hard to argue that Gray wouldn’t have been a better option for the Reds in 2024.

        I also agree with ATH. If you sign Gray and your younger pitchers pan out well, you end up trading one of them because Gray’s contract is unlikely to be moved via trade without attaching prospect capital. In other words, even if Gray pitches well, his contract will likely preclude a trade because it is doubtful his performance delivers surplus value. Thus, he’s in the rotation. If he underperforms, as ATH points out, the temptation is to “give him time to work through it,” he also stays in the rotation. In contrast, an underperforming young pitcher gets optioned.

        I even agree with Doug about this … it’s about the money, and as long as MLB has enormous revenue disparities, small-to-mid-market teams will work hard to avoid long-term, high-value contracts. The risk calculus does not favor them. Having fielded strong teams for decades and with a little cash tree outside of their RF fence line, the Cardinals leveraged their clout to snag Gray.

        Thus, the Reds are almost certainly below budget but are employing a strategy that they hope will allow them to plug holes with solid, but not top-tier free agents. While I think this is the soundest strategy the team has employed under Castellini, the risk associated with this strategy has moved from future seasons to the current season.

      • AllTheHype

        @Doug

        The commitment to playing time is indeed due the guaranteed money outlay. But passing on that commitment does not mean a team “cheap”. And it also does not mean a team is unwilling to spend either. It simply means, in part anyway, the team was unwilling to commit several years of playing time to the player, as the Yankees have done with Rodon and Giancarlo.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS, going into the offseason, I was all in for signing Gray. I thought that would be a moderate risk, but one that was worthwhile. And the Reds were in on that, per both Gray and Reds FO. But it didn’t happen.

        However, sometimes in the past you have advocated for signing guys like Montgomery types (and I forget who else) where the TV is north of $125M and 3 years. I was simply explaining why I think that would be an ill advised move for the Reds, in the event the performance goes sour. And that happens all the time. It’s just not a commitment I think the Reds should be making with a FA pitcher.

      • MBS

        @All, I have advocated for many guys that would be more expensive, Montgomery included.

        I have 2 reasons that I believe it was in the best interest of the club.

        1) We have a lot of very talented, good players. What we don’t have are a lot of experienced “good” players. We need that Greg Vaughn, Scott Rolen type guy. I do like the Candelario signing for this exact reason.

        2) We had a ridiculously low payroll committed to anyone in 24, 25, and 26. I don’t believe that Krall plans on extending all of these kids, but instead he’ll flip most of them for more prospects. This will keep the payroll low. If that’s the plan, fine, but lets augment that plan with top shelf FA’s that can help us win a WS.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS

        And if the signing ends up like Rodon, Strasburg, Corbin, or Bailey, you’re will to take that risk and still give them the ball every 5th day for the next 6 years, regardless if they perform like their old self or if they perform like Luke Weaver?

      • MBS

        There’s always risk in signing anyone. The question is what are you more willing to risk, performance or money?

        Signing Weaver $2M , and Myers $7M was a performance risk.

        Signing Snell $30M, Hader $19M is a financial risk.

        Signing Montas $14M, Calendario $15M is the middle ground. You are taking on both performance, and financial risk. BTW I like both of these signings, but let’s face it they do carry risk.

        I am getting a bad feeling that we will not see salaries on the level of the recent past. I think DW was able to push Bob in a way that Krall can’t. Sub $100M payrolls seem like our most likely future. There was absolutely zero reason for us not to be $100+ in payroll in 24. We had the exciting young team, and miles of room to add quality FA’s if we had the will to do so.

        Maybe I’m wrong, and 2025 will be the year, but I don’t think so.

      • AllTheHype

        Snell, Hader as you say are both financial risks, But they are also performance risks, exponentially so.

        The issue the Yanks have with Rodon, 6.84 ERA and now in year 2 of a $162M deal is a huge performance risk. Because they will, and they must, try to get value from that contract. Not just this year, for several years. How will the rest of the team overcome a 6.84 ERA every 5th day and compete in their division. Gonna be tough, real tough.

        So I go back to my question: If the Reds signed Montgomery and he turns into Rodon, would you be OK with giving him 6 years of starts every 5th day? It would sink the team if that happened. Both competitively and financially. Can’t have $30M AAV tied up in one player as a small market team and that have that player yielding a 6.84 ERA. The rest of the team can’t compensate for that and compete in the division.

        THAT is what happened to the Nats and that is why the Nats are now rebuilding.

        Reds cannot and should not risk that.

      • MBS

        @All, The higher end FA’s are less of a performance risk. Obviously no one can be completely safe from risk, so it’s a bit of a silly question to ask. Worst case scenarios are never good problems to solve.

        I agree a $30M AAV is too much for the Reds to take on under normal circumstances. I don’t think a club should spend more than 15% AAV of what they can afford on any one player. For me that maxes out the Reds at $22.5 AAV. Going into an offseason with a roster so full of talent, and a payroll so low changes the risk of over spending. IMO

        As I said above I don’t think the plan is to sign all of the young stars. More than half will probably be traded by the time the cost the Reds any real money.

        So yes, I’d would sign a $30M AAV player at this moment in time. Now if I’m wrong and Bob will let Krall increase spending to what the club’s capability of, then I’d fall back to my 15% rule.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS, how can that be a silly question to ask? Rodon, Corbin, were at the very high end of their FA class. They both had better profiles than Montgomery and on par (at the least) with Snell. So it does happen, quite often. Strasburg and Bailey were extended, but same result and both were high end performers at the time of the contract.

        You seem to be expecting the best, and unprepared/not considering the worst that can and often does happen with big pitching contracts.

      • AllTheHype

        Maybe not better than Montgomery, but all (Corbin, Rodon, Strasburg) TOR pitchers is what I should have said.

        But the fact that you replied “silly question to ask” means to me you haven’t considered anything but the positive case, and refuse to consider the Rodon or Corbin type cases.

      • MBS

        @All, I probably shouldn’t have said silly, but worst case scenarioing any decision is going to have bad consequences. If I said I’m moving to Florida, and you asked me what are you going to do if a hurricane destroys your home.

        What are we going to do if player X has a X injury, and he’s out for the season? The answer is you figure it out if it comes down to it, but you can disaster proof every decision.

      • AllTheHype

        @MBS It’s worse than player X missing the season though. It’s when the player is healthy, and you send him to the mound and he has a 6.48 ERA. And you’ve still got 5 more years of that on the contract.

        Nats actually lucked out with Strasburg. He got injured and couldn’t pitch. Much more hurtful for them is Corbin, who actually does pitch, and very poorly. But he’s healthy, so he’s worse than Strasburg.

        Rodon was last year’s Snell in the FA class. But Snell could be the next Rodon.

        Big $$$ pitching contracts are among the worst contracts in baseball. Not many work out in favor of the club, and several are disasters.

        From my perspective, I hope the Reds never go there. It’s too risky. The Hunter Greene contract is the limit of what they should every give a pitcher, imo.

    • Tom Noonan

      Greene, lodolo, Ashcraft, Montas, could all turn into #1s or none of them. So much potential. I’m still think theres reason to be positive about Abbott too.

      Love this team and i have to remaining hopeful.

    • Tom Reeves

      MBS – I’ve talked a lot more about my thoughts on the financial state of the Reds and I kinda short handed it here. My apologies. I think BK’s take is accurate.

  4. Indy Red Man

    It’s 2024 and they haven’t figured out that stuff and actual effectiveness are often completely different? Hitters see 98 every day now so command and the baseball IQ to read their swing and adjust accordingly is more important then ever

    • Tar Heel Red

      Indy Red Man – agree 100%. Stuff should, but often does not, include movement on a hurler’s pitches. Sure, Greene throws very hard but, in general, his pitches lack movement, making them easier to hit. He did dial back the velo toward the end of last season and the results were encouraging.

      To me Lodolo has been blessed with the best “stuff” on the staff. He has velo and movement, plus being left-handed is an advantage as well. Ashcraft is right behind him.

      2024 holds a lot of promise for the Reds staff. Hopefully it all comes to fruition.

    • DaveCT

      And “effectiveness” = innings, IMO.

    • LDS

      I agree. The Reds are loaded with potential but a lot of things really need to come together. And during their tenure with the Reds, neither DJ nor Bell have shown they know how to bring it out in the players. Still time to do something though I’m not optimistic that Krall will.

      • greenmtred

        If we choose to ignore the excellent performances by young guys like Friedl, McClain, Benson, CES, Marte and Abbott, you might be a legitimate insight in your oft-repeated refrain. Of course we’d also have to ignore the uneven learning trajectories of young players–particularly pitchers–throughout the league and throughout the ages as well as the Reds’ significant improvement in 2023 as the young players joined the team.

      • DaveCT

        Almost word for word with a post I wrote yesterday that is still in moderation after stating that Bell and DJ are ‘darned’ if they do and ‘darned’ if they don’t.

      • LDS

        @Greenmtred, don’t confuse luck with good management. The Reds were in the driver’s seat at the AllStar break and once again collapsed in the 2nd half when they hit the “easy part of the schedule”.

      • DaveCT

        MBS, you set yourself up on this one.

        To start, I sure would like to know what Bell would have to do in player development more than he did last year with Friedl, Steer, Fraley, Benson, McLain, CES, Marte and, less so, EDLC (at 21), as well as India and Stephenson two years earlier. Note: injuries and a collective final week fade don’t equate to failing at player development. In fact, 82 wins constitute a successful season both individually and collectively, especially given the deficits.

        Secondly, player development from a manager is identifying a player’s strengths, putting that player in the best place to succeed, and, in today’s era, acting as an ally in his growth and performance. But under “it’s all luck,” Bell can’t win. It’s called a double bind in treatment of alcoholism. In this case, of Bell successfully guiding several young hitters through their first season, player success is “luck.” If the players fell on their faces, Bell would be incapable.

        Ya’ll can’t have both at the same time, especially when the player results and overall team success in spite of massive injury problems fly in the face of this opinion.

        Sorry folks, this narrative that the Reds cannot develop talent is, at minimum, shifting dramatically at present, and IMO expected to continue rising.

        By the way, the exact same can be said of DJ developing pitching. Williamson, Abbott, Diaz, all grew and succeeded in the ML’s last year. When healthy, the same is true of Lodolo, Ashcraft, Greene.
        And, no, Phillips, Richardson, Stoudt and Salazar were not ML ready.

      • earmbrister

        @LDS, don’t confuse a big run of injuries for mismanagment. Hard to fault management when after the ASB they lost:

        Greene for two months
        Ashcraft for a month
        India for a month
        McLain for a month

        Yeah, they don’t know how to “bring it out” in the players.

      • Optimist

        I’ll draw the line at the date DWilliams became the GM. He made the fundamental changes to the player development process, from the bottom of the MiLB to the top – different management, different emphasis, new focus on some issues, all around a big shift. He was less successful, but hardly a failure with the MLB product.

        Point is, Bell/DJ had little to do with that, positive or negative or luck. It’s not their job. Arguably, “development” has no part in their job – they receive the “developed” product and their task is shown in the MLB W/L record.

        This season we shall see what they do with a fully developed product – is it enough, are they good enough, will the organization make the tweaks (as opposed to fishing around independent leagues) which will arise this season?

      • LDS

        Simple question, how many years of failure will it take before folks here admit the Reds are badly mismanaged from ownership to the field? How many blown arms? How many heralded prospects will fade to oblivion etc? As for Williams’ modernization of the Reds development organization – much of that has been dismantled.

      • Doug Gray

        The modernization of the stuff that he overhauled in the minor leagues has not only not been dismantled, it’s been improved on and expanded upon.

      • greenmtred

        Luck is a component of every team’s season, LDS. I suggest that certain elements of it are obvious: McLain, the Reds’ most consistent rookie, getting injured is a clear instance of bad luck. But other elements of luck aren’t as clear, and neither is efficacy of management or lack thereof when viewed from the outside looking in. A team depending so heavily upon young players is, by it’s nature, more prone to surges and reversals than is a veteran team, so I suppose that playing so many kids could be viewed as evidence of poor management. But recall that the Reds were prioritizing development of their young players–as were you and most of the rest of us.

    • MuddyCleats

      B I NGO

      Frankly, few if any of them have shown an ability to pitch or “adjust” as u mention. Command & quality of off speed pitches still need improvement. Sometimes that can b as simple as cutting or slightly choking a fastball

  5. The Duke

    The Reds desperately need Hunter Greene to be a top of the rotation pitcher, then at least two guys to step up and at least be something like a sub 4 ERA pitcher.

    • DaveCT

      Their depth signals they likely have the bottom of the rotation covered. Which is a very good thing! How many good teams get derailed because they lack depth? Getting 150 innings out of Brandon Williamson in the No. 5 spot would be huge.

  6. David

    Interesting that Abbott was ranked lower. I actually think of him as the best starting “pitcher” on the staff, prior to actually seeing Spring Training start. I think I saw somewhere that he chalked up his “fade” in 2023 to his legs being tired, and was working out with TJ Antone in the off season to be in better shape. He doesn’t throw a blazing fastball, but his fastball is plenty fast, and he seems to be able to control the strike zone with his fastball and curve.
    Hunter Greene has a great arm, and there are days when he looks almost unhittable, but he is still inconsistent. He can’t quite master location in the zone.
    I am actually ok that he is a two-pitch pitcher, if he could just master location. He gets behind in the count, and will predictably throw a fast ball right down the heart of the plate to get a called strike. Nolan Ryan struggled a lot with his control early in his career. So much so that the Mets gave up on him and traded him to the Angels for Jim Fregosi. Ryan finally came into his own with the Angels, given enough starts. Ryan had really only two pitches, his overpowering fastball and a big overhand 12-6 curve.
    Ashcraft is a bit of an enigma. Somedays he does look overpowering, and somedays he is not. I think he is not quite as erratic as Hunter Greene, but they are kind of in the same category as not quite mastering the art of pitching.
    Lodolo has some great stuff, but he is also injury prone.
    Montas is coming off of shoulder surgery, and is supposed to be in great shape. I guess we will see, but not really getting my hopes too high on this guy. He may also be innings limited this season.
    Connor Phillips again has some great stuff, but he has to master the strike zone, be able to hit spots in the zone with some regularity. He is sometimes wild. That is only going to improve with experience.

    The Reds have some great potential, but the actual quality it still a bit of an unknown. If they have 3 or 4 starting guys that actually pitch to close to their potential, they will be very competitive and could win the division. And that is a really big “IF”.

    • AllTheHype

      Abbott competes as well as anyone, and his FB does play up a bit. But in terms of pure stuff, he’s near the bottom of the Reds viable starting pitching options (the 8 of them) for ’24.

    • AllTheHype

      That said, Abbott makes up for limitation in stuff with ability to compete, command, and his overall game plan against individual opposing hitters.

      I think Indy Red posted here also, “stuff” only means so much. Does the pitcher also know how to pitch? And can they command their “stuff”?

      • David

        I think the combination of his fastball and sharp curve make for pretty good stuff. And he can throw strikes, ie, command the strike zone.
        That’s what makes him the present Reds best “pitcher”.
        Hunter Greene does indeed have a great arm, is a great athlete. He has a good work ethic, and is apparently a very bright guy. But he still hasn’t gotten to the point where he can consistently throw strikes. When he does, he is nearly unhittable…..but that’s only occasionally. He needs to be able to command his stuff 4 out of 5 starts, not one out of 5 starts.
        He can come up with another pitch, but he still has to be able to throw strikes with his number one, his fastball.

    • MK

      I agree , Abbott is my #1 going into the year and even my Opening Day starter. If as they said he takes a big step backward the team is in trouble.

  7. Klugo

    They should stack up pretty well. Should. It’s time. Time to put up.

  8. Ahimsa

    Don’t understand why Greene only throws 2 different pitches.

    • Tar Heel Red

      My understanding is that he is working on a changeup, but haven’t heard any updates on it’s progress. If he could develop even an average changeup, watch out!

      • steve

        Yeah he has a changeup…just only used it 5% of the time last season.

  9. Jerry Shallenberger

    Going to be a long painful season for the pitching.

  10. Optimist

    It’s understandable that so many want a #1 or #2 starter, and so many are concerned that Montas was all they got. BUT, the clear #1 issue was depth, and they solved that.

    The article, and Doug’s summary, make sense and highlight that’s the issue they solved. Barring a catastrophe, they won’t repeat the worst 300-400 ip from last season – certainly not in the rotation and very unlikely in the bullpen. It’s hard to see this pitching being below league average, and with only one or two very good performers it could be in the top 5.

    Which means . . . this season the burden is on the offense, and particularly all the younger players to perform. If they get to league average as a group, a wild card is very likely. The problem is getting beyond that.

  11. Frankie Tomatoes

    Andrew Abbot is no Randy Johnson but if he has well below average stuff I want to know what stuff is because he sure got results for a long time with that stuff against the best players in the world.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Exactly Frankie…in today’s baseball world if you don’t throw fastball in the upper 90’s you are automatically classified as having below average stuff. It doesn’t matter that you get batters out with a 92 MPH fastball…it’s all about velocity.

  12. Frogem

    I wonder how Greg Maddux’s “stuff” would have been rated. I suspect lower on the scale, but he vastly made up for that with location and command.

    My Abbot comp until I learn more.

    • DataDumpster

      I enjoyed watching Maddox many times while in Atlanta during the 90s heyday. Great curve and change up but a fastball that might not even break a window. Hands down, the guy who knew how to pitch, develop a plan against each batter, and the talent to throw it where he needed. It was a marvel to see him get the guys out. They called him “The Doctor” in the day. He had a complete game with 76 pitches.
      I see a little bit of him in Abbott. Fierce competitor but also must know where to throw it and complete the action. I would bet on him for most wins. The rest of the starters will probably be OK in general due to the added depth that Krall has provided but a breakout to me is someone that can pitch 160-175 effective innings. Develop a Injury+ simulation that predicts who gets injured most then you got something. Stuff+ is amusing at best.

    • Doug Gray

      A fastball that had 9 feet of horizontal run probably would have graded out insanely well.

      • JC18

        ?
        Been a huge Reds fan since I was a kid, but rarely got to watch them on tv in the 90’s in eastern ky. Had to settle for TBS and WGN. Always did enjoy watching Maddux pitch. Don’t know how many lefties I saw him strike out with that tailing fastball.

      • JC18

        The ? mark on my reply was supposed to be a laughing emoji.

      • Old Big Ed

        Maddux as soft-tosser is a myth. His fastball had plenty of juice for his era when he was young. As he matured as a pitcher, he leaned more and more on his staggering command of all of his pitches. Maddux in the last half of his career just didn’t need to throw as hard as he could.

        Not throwing with max effort is why Maddux avoided injuries, and a big part (together with athleticism) of why he won 18 Gold Gloves.

        Abbott is not Maddux or Glavine, but as his command gets better, he has a chance to develop into a Ted Lilly type, or a poor man’s Cliff Lee.

      • Tar Heel Red

        Back then yes, but not in today’s game. Most people in the game today are more concerned how hard you can throw…not how well.

      • Doug Gray

        Most people don’t matter when it comes to scouting reports or metrics like Stuff+, though. What RedsFan1976 thinks is entirely irrelevant to the grading of a pitchers stuff.

    • redfanorbust

      Maddux is my favorite pitcher of all time hands down and I am a diehard Reds fan. I have not seen the likes of him since he played which just goes to show show you his greatness and how unique he was. If Abbot can ever achieve being half as good it will be a major win for the Reds IMO.

  13. MBS

    Too bad we let Ricky Karcher go, he had a 129 Stuff+. He could have been our ace 🙁

    • Old Big Ed

      It isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem that Karcher (ala Robert Stephenson) shows up as an effective reliever in about 3 years. Relief pitchers are an unpredictable lot, and their original teams will often run out of time with them.

  14. Oldtimer

    Jim O’Toole was decent in 1959 and 1960 but great in 1961.

    Jim Maloney was decent in 1960, 1961, and 1962 but great in 1963.

    Two examples from way back when.

    Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, and Abbott/Williamson have been decent so far. Any and all are poised for breakout years in their third (second for Abbott and Williamson) years as SP. Montas was good in 2021 and some if 2022 before he got hurt.

    If healthy, the Reds SP rotation should be above average. If not, who knows?

    In particular, Greene needs to take a big step forward. For various reasons, his first two SP years have just be okay, not great. The #2 draft pick in the 2017 draft should be great by 2024.

    • Old Big Ed

      Patience is a virtue with young pitchers. Greene was 17 when he was drafted, and he really hadn’t pitched all that much in high school. The good news is that Jacob DeGrom threw his first major league pitch a month short of his 26th birthday. And in his age 23 season, Sandy Koufax went 8-6 and had a 4.05 ERA (FIP of 4.04), with 5.4 BB/9 and an ERA+ of 105.

      Greene is headed into his age 24 season, so he still has plenty of time and upside.

    • Optimist

      Very good points here Oldtimer. But one quibble – you mention, “If healthy, the Reds SP rotation should be above average.” So much more depth this season means they can actually be average with a few injuries. Cannot remember the last time that happened. If they’re all healthy, chance almost dictates one or two of them will be above average.

      • Oldtimer

        Healthy = above average (Team P OPS+ above 100).

        Some health issues = at or near average (Team P OPS+ about 100)

        2013 team is the last one I remember with a good P staff.

      • Optimist

        Yes – the 2013 staff was the end of an era – doubt we’ll ever see that again. The mirror image of last season as far as exceptional luck to have no injuries.

  15. Mike Wasserman

    This report makes me feel really good about our team! If we have a team ERA of 3.5 and average scoring just 4 runs a game, we’ll win a 100. I know, sounds nieve, but you have to admit an ERA of that is reasonable and so is 4 runs. I really can’t wait until this season gets underway — here comes the 2024 Big Red Machine!

    • Old Big Ed

      As I say in college football, if you get 4 yards every play, you are the undefeated national champion.

    • TR

      If a ‘Machine’ emerges in 2024, it will be because the Reds win games that seem to be unwinnable. This will not happen if the Manager routinely uses substitution, even when a player is in a hot streak.

      • wkuchad

        You can’t blame a manager for substituting players when you give him 11 starters for 8 positions and a DH.

      • greenmtred

        I have no idea what the odds are of a hitter replicating a multi-hit game in the following game. Do you? Do you know the odds (variable, obviously) of a hitter having a multi-hit game after a hitless game? Neither do I.

  16. Oldtimer

    3.5 ERA and 4 RPG was last achieved by 2013 Reds. They won 90.

    It is unlikely the 2024 Reds will get to 3.5 ERA but 4.0 is possible. That would be a big improvement over the 2023 Reds.

    I like your enthusiasm. I doubt there will ever be another Big Red Machine.

  17. Rednat

    I think we have plenty of pitching. I agree with Old timer above. This young staff reminds me of the great pitching staffs of the early 60s.

    NOW GO OUT AND GET SOME HITTING To get some run support for these young studs!

  18. Fanman

    Every one take a deep breath. This collection of young starting pitchers is unparalleled in the long storied history of this franchise. Yes, they do have to prove their selves. This projection severely under rates this group. Especially Abbott. Going to sit back and enjoy the ride..

  19. TR

    As stated, there’s lots of potential in the Reds young starting staff and we shall see what happens. Greene is the leader if he can get beyond the third or fourth inning before good hitters figure him out with his velocity and lack of variety in pitches. If that’s not the case by midseason, pressure will build to spend money to obtain an established stopper to lead this starting staff.

  20. Michael B. Green

    Lodolo needs to stay out of street clothes this season. He’s on the Senzel path with injuries.

  21. Indy Red Man

    Ashcraft is the closest to an Ace imo. Or Montas if he he’s healthy and has enough gas in the tank? Ash though….last 12 starts he had an era of 2.58 and never allowed more then 3. I remember seeing him battle Burnes one of those games and thinking their stuff is about the same. Mid to high 90s with a power slider. Ash does a good job of pitching to contact too and can get double plays. I think he’ll build off that success and if he’s healthy will have 150+ innings and 3.80 as a floor

  22. Mark Moore

    Off topic … anyone else intrigued by the prospect of the O’s ownership change? How ’bout it, Bob … I’m sure there are buyers out there who would love to line your pockets.

    • AllTheHype

      Careful what you wish for. The next owner could spend like the A’s, Rays, Marlins, or Orioles. At least Bob has a history of expanding payroll when the Reds turn the corner after a rebuild. He’s expanded payroll at the end of the last 3 rebuilds, up to $130M.

      A new owner might be MORE frugal than Bob. I would argue it’s even likely.

    • MBS

      Yes, Hopefully Bob is considering selling. He’s got to be thinking of retiring. He’s not as old as the O’s owner, but he’s no spring chicken.

      Cash out Bob, and protect us from your ne’er-do-well son.

  23. Grand Salami

    This article has generated some really thoughtful discussion. Overall, it’s heartening to see the full rotation ranked within the first 125 (I like Harris’ work and put some stock in it).

    As noted, the lack of an ace is the glaring weakness (93 spot difference from #1 to #5 seems small). Paying for a potential TOR in Montas instead of committing to a longer term solution makes sense. The success of this team stems from the young players growing, a pitcher has to take that step, not an outside FA hire.

    On the offensive side, the same holds true. They signed Candelario (didn’t chase Ohtani or Soto) b/c it’s less about the addition and more about the development.

    Development over the right addition is rarely the case, but the Reds seems to have a generational level of young, core players. I’m old enough to remember being stoked to have young Dunn and Kearns and brining in Willy Mo to go with the young core of Harang and Claussen at pitcher (not all these guys were even our farm products, I think). And that core is laughable by comparison.

    The closest thing is 15 years ago when Votto was still young, Bruce was breaking in, and Homer and Cueto were starting out (and we had supplemented the rotation with a young Volquez). Even then, the farm system promotions were sparse compared to this group with every single guy but one in the starting rotation coming through AAA/AA (Phillips was still developmental when traded for) or the entire infield (but one) being the same.

  24. RedlegScott

    Corbin Burnes, annual thorn in the side, is out of the division. Yay.