No Cincinnati Reds player is out to a better start to the 2024 season than Spencer Steer. Last night he got on base three more times as he homered and walked twice against the New York Mets. It was the 6th time this season that he picked up a hit, and the 5th time out of seven games that he’s gotten on base at least twice in a game.

Through the first seven games of the year he’s hit .423, walked three times to boost his on-base percentage to .500, and his five extra-base hits have his slugging percentage up to .808. His 1.308 OPS easily leads the team. He’s tied with Nick Martini for the team lead with nine runs batted in. Among all big leaguers, he’s currently tied for 6th place in WAR (Fangraphs version). His weighted on-base average (wOBA) is third best int he game, trailing just Mookie Betts of the Dodgers and Tyler O’Neill of the Red Sox.

Hunter Greene’s new pitches

Last night was the second start of the season for Hunter Greene and he pitched quite well, giving up just one run over 6.0 innings and racking up six strikeouts with just one walk. When the young right-handed starter showed up to spring training this year he had two new pitches he was planning to use this season – a splitter that he briefly debuted while on minor league rehab late last season but didn’t throw in the big leagues when he returned, and a curveball.

For the most part through his first two starts he’s still been mostly fastball and slider, throwing them 93% of the time so far. He’s only thrown three curveballs and just 11 splitters this year. What’s been interesting along with the lack of new offerings he’s throwing, though, is that he’s thrown more sliders than fastballs this year. Most pitchers in today’s game throw fewer fastballs than secondary offerings, but not necessarily one specific secondary offering. With just two games under his belt this season, all of this could change as the season progresses, but it stood out to me when I was looking at things last night.

Rhett Lowder’s Pro Debut

The Reds 1st round pick in last year’s draft, Rhett Lowder, made his professional debut for the Dayton Dragons. After going 15-0 and throwing 120 innings for Wake Forest, Cincinnati shut him down after the draft and he didn’t pitch in any games before the season ended. Invited to big league camp, he did pitch briefly in spring training with the Reds before they sent him to minor league camp.

With opening day for Single-A, High-A, and Double-A getting underway on Friday night, it was Lowder who was set to start the opener for the Dragons in Dayton last night and he looked every bit as good as you would expect him to. Lowder only threw 4.0 innings – by design – and gave up just two hits. Only one of those hits made it out of the infield. He walked one batter, had five strikeouts, and he had six ground outs with zero fly ball outs. The right-hander threw 65 pitches in his outing, but also had to work around a defensive miscue that added some additional pitches to his outing he otherwise wouldn’t have had to throw.

38 Responses

  1. Brian

    Steer looks fantastic but I’m not sold on Greene. He looks unchanged to me. He’s keeping the ball in the ballpark for now because it’s cold and hitting normally comes slower out of the gate than pitching. The one thing I’ll say is that he kept his walks down and that’s huge to his game. He can probably get by if he keeps those walks down, easier said than done.
    The bottom line is that he needs to use a 3rd pitch more. If he sticks to 2 pitches, he will probably be in trouble once the weather heats up. He has to keep those walks down too or he will only be a 4-6 inning starter with a 4+ ERA.

  2. old-school

    StEeR iS tHe bEsT 7 hOle hItTer in BaSEball

    lots of folks wanted the Reds to spend money or trade capital for proven pitching with Giolito and Bieber as primary targets. Both are now out for the year.

    • MBS

      Well players get hurt, that’s baseball. What’s the mindset, don’t try because you might fail? You can’t protect yourself into a championship.

      • DaveCT

        No, it’s to exercise caution and make prudent decisions. Bieber had elbow issues last year and had big TJ red flags. His availability is/was more tuned into later 2025 than 24. Whereas Montas’s availability, a year out from surgery is better.

      • Old-school

        The point is to expose the fallacy of “proven pitching”. Theres no such thing. Writing 10 figure checks or selling off elite prospects for FA-to-be rentals doesnt guarantee anything. Elbow epidemic right now in mlb. Thats the only proven thing.

        Depth and a pipeline of young talent is the only way to navigate this epidemic

      • MBS

        @Dave, I don’t disagree that Bieber was a risk because of his injury last season. That’s why the Guardians didn’t trade him, teams didn’t give them a high enough return.

        There are a ton of guys on RLN that will look back after an injury to a formerly discussed FA/Trade Rumor guy, and say, boy aren’t we lucky we didn’t x, y, or z.

        I liked the Montas signing, I was as excited as anyone. He was not a TOR signing, but a guy who if things went well had that kind of potential.

        A prudent clubs doesn’t win championships, just ask the Rays. A cheap team doesn’t win championships, just ask the A’s. Throwing money at a team doesn’t win championships, just ask the Padres. I like the way the Cardinals go about things. They are willing to spend good money on good players, but they always have a player development pipeline churning out good players. I want that to be the organization we emulate.

      • MBS

        @Old, isolated cases, or anecdotal evidence do not “expose the fallacy”. I can point to 2 others that are not hurt to prove the opposite point.

        I like a lot of your comments, so this isn’t an attack on you, but just this specific line of thinking that is common on RLN.

      • Old-school

        @MBS

        I respect your posts and not directed at you. I do think there is a lazy narrative that Reds had an easy path to winning last year and this year if they just spent money randomly. My point is buying yesterdays good pitcher doesnt mean he will be good tomorrow, just older and more expensive and probably injured. This has been an awful few weeks for elite pitchers being injured

        Anyway- game today and Reds need a W.

      • JayTheRed

        Here is a thought. Perhaps the Reds saw Bieber’s medical info and that is why a trade didn’t happen.

      • DaveCT

        MBS, I’d say the Cards are prudent, with the Brewers and Braves, too. Prudent: acting with or showing care and thought for the future.

        And I’d say Krall is prudent. Big Bob and Little Phil, not.

        Dodgers and NYY are just filthy rich.

    • wkuchad

      Yeah, I certainly wanted the Reds to upgrade starting pitching. It was their biggest need of the off-season. Not sure your point here.

    • greenmtred

      He probably is, OS. Might be the best two-hole hitter, too.

  3. Klugo

    Don’t worry. Greene is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He just needs a little run support, by God.

  4. DaveCT

    Regarding Green, In DJ’s on air interview during spring training, he directly stated the first objective for Green was command of two pitches. Then, on accomplishment of that command, did he want Green to work in other pitches.

    Second, the split and the curve are both ‘feel’ pitches. Given the weather, it’s entirely possible he doesn’t have the feel for them quite yet. Same for the thin air in AZ. Or not. One thing I would not do is assume he is not working on the new pitches. Two starts does not a season make.

    • Brian Rutherford

      Excellent points. I think the cold weather also has something to do with the slow start of some of our youngsters at the plate. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

      I wouldn’t mind Steer and CES switch spots in the lineup until CES gets going

  5. TR1

    Bieber to have Tommy John surgery. Unreal. Wish him the best, but glad Reds didn’t trade the farm for him.

  6. Eric

    It’s a lot harder to control the curve and split when it’s cold, which would explain why he hasn’t thrown them much….maybe?. If he could just learn to use split, it could be an effective pitch to keep batters off his FB. That would allow him to lead off his FB and not pitch backwards with his slider.

  7. wkuchad

    I’m just not that worried about Greene. I still remember Cueto’s slow progression into a great starting pitcher for the Reds. Felt like every year he kept getting a little better. Year 4 is when the ACE emerged.

    Greene is still young with a lot of potential. Give him time (and run support).

    • DK in Erie PA

      As long as he continues to throw 20 pitches an inning (or their abouts) he is a 5 + inning pitcher. For a pitcher with his stuff, he really struggles putting hitters away. Can’t teach stuff, but let’s see some real progression. MLB is littered with guys that have great “stuff” but are average at best

      • DaveCT

        99 pitches in 6 innings equals 16.5 pitches per inning.

        So, 3.5 fewer pitches an inning equals 6 innings. Just a few small improvements each time out can have much better outcomes.

        The 72% strike rate doesn’t hurt either.

  8. Mark A Verticchio

    Today’s 3 and 4 hitters are both hitting under .200 while the 7th place hitter is hitting over .400. Sometimes I just don’t understand Bell’s twisted logic. Who in the world bats their best hitter 7th?

    • wkuchad

      This criticism is getting silly.

      So which is it – adjusting your batting order for the hot hand, or consistency of batting order is important for the hitters? How can Bell win?

      It’s only been 7 games (small sample size). Check the entire 2023 stats versus righty starters. It appears to me, that’s what this lineup is based on, and it’s been the same lineup vs righties since the season started.

      Besides maybe Candy (not sure), everyone hitting above Steer hit better than him in 2023 vs righties.

      What is comes down to, is our lineup is solid top to bottom vs righties. Why even complain? Unfortunately, it’s much weaker vs lefties.

      • Old-school

        @ WKU

        I hear where you are coming from
        On CES and Candy and im fine with them at 4/5 or 5/6. Doesnt matter.

        But, Steer was team MVP last year and the best hitter on the team this year

        Put him at 2 or 3 and drop CES/ Candy and Elly a spot

        Cant have best hitter in the 7 hole

      • Hanawi

        Steer was one of the best hitters on the team last year and is this year already. There is no reason to bat him lower than 3rd in the order. It’s just bad managing.

      • greenmtred

        Of course there’s a reason. We just don’t know it.

      • Mark A Verticchio

        I am not basing Steer’s performance on 7 games, he was the best hitter on the team last year.

      • wkuchad

        Mark, last year he was the 8th to 9th best hitter vs righties.

      • Melvin

        “So which is it – adjusting your batting order for the hot hand, or consistency of batting order is important for the hitters?”

        I’m not one that believes moving guys around in the order matters near as much as keeping our best hitter near the top. If you had an established poor hitter who’s been a little hot batting 7th it wouldn’t matter near as much until he shows a lot of consistency. Steer on the other hand has and is showing to be the best hitter on the team. Chris Welsh subtly alluded to him moving up in the order during the post game show. We won today even with him batting 7th… so I’m happy. 🙂

    • Doc

      If you are always going to set your lineup by putting your current best hitter in a particular spot, then you are likely going to be changing your lineup with regularity. Today’s best hitter is not likely to be the best hitter every day of the year.

      This team is 4-3 without a couple of their best hitters. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

      Greene was pretty good. Didn’t see the game but on game day it looked as though he had fewer hitters that he got 0-2 then worked the count full. Maybe Montas’ goal of getting an out on three pitches will rub off on Greene.

    • greenmtred

      Mostly, I think that this is much ado about not very much. Steer is the team’s co-leader in rbi’s and has clearly had plenty of run-producing opportunities. As wkuchad points out, there are good hitters throughout the lineup. He would get more AB’s batting near the top, so there’s that. But the season is very young and things will change and change again. Older fans like me grew up being a little obsessive about the fine points of lineup construction, and when it has been analyzed, the conclusion has been that it mostly makes little difference.

  9. Mauired

    Geez tough crowd. Reds have a 24 year old pitcher with nasty stuff. Making the same salary as the backup catcher. Coming off a six inning outing just allowing 3 hits and 1 walk. Has a 2.5 era on the young season. And you would think he’s trash based on all the negative comments.

    I think Steer should be in the 3 hole every game. He’s the Reds best hitter. He’s got an great eye at the plate just like Votto had with good power. He should have had 3 walks (got called out on a ball) and a homer last night. Putting him seven against righties is a counterproductive. He doesn’t have the same rbi opportunities batting behind 5-6 hitters who aren’t getting on much. And he doesn’t have the same run scoring opportunities because the 8-9 hitters don’t do much run producing. Someone said Steer didn’t do as good as everyone above him in the order last year against righties. He had .350 obp against righties. That’s more important than average in my book. Base hits are great. But to score runs (and win) you just need to get on base.

    • Mauired

      Oh and he also had 44 of his 63 extra base hits off right handed pitchers last year. Or 70% of extra base hits. If that matters.

  10. Jason T.

    Steer is a stud. His pitch recognition and his improved outfield play early this season are impressive. He’s already great but is turning into fantastic right before our eyes.
    Not at all worried about CES. He’s hit some hard balls unfortunately right to defenders. Tough luck on many hard hit balls. I think he’s going to have a monster season.
    Greene continues to improve. He’s got to get a 3rd pitch in the mix on a more consistent basis though for long term development. And some run support would be welcomed.
    I’ve got to see Lowder while he’s still in Dayton. Don’t think he’ll be there long.

    • Mauired

      Dayton is absolutely loaded. I would advise anyone that can go check them out. Most of the same players from Daytona last year. A lot of this squad will be in Louisville in 2025/2026 which is crazy because Reds roster is already stacked.

  11. Indy Red Man

    If HG is taking cues from Montez then learn the splitter. Frankie throws it to righties too! Or hard 92 mph slider like vintage Burnes or Ashcraft on occasion. HG was throwing strikes, but you can challenge more when it’s 40 degrees.

    Offense will pop today I think. Former power pitchers trying to get by on guile doesn’t work that often. Used to get Severino every year in fantasy. He was good, but that was then

  12. Melvin

    “Rhett Lowder’s Pro Debut”

    I expect good things out of Lowder sooner rather than later.