Robert Stephenson impresses again, but leaves early Doug Gray July 9, 2017 34 Comments Robert Stephenson continued to throw the ball well for the Louisville Bats yesterday in their double header. Taking over in the top of the 5th inning of a game that was being resumed, Stephenson threw 3.0 shutout innings where he allowed just one hit. The right hander didn’t walk anyone and he had three strikeouts. However, he would only threw those 3.0 innings and 46 pitches. After his final inning, as he walked off the mound to the dugout he was looking at his pitching hand. When he neared the foul line he took off his glove and appeared to “pick” at his pitching hand. The camera then cut away and he was replaced at the start of the next inning. Robert Stephenson has been battling with some blister problems, and given the way he was looking at his hand, and the picking action he did seem to make following that inning, I would think it’s a good assumption that a blister either developed within the game, or one that he had had worsened and that is why he was removed from the game for the Bats. Control was a problem for Robert Stephenson in the Major Leagues this season. Control has been a problem for him in the minor leagues in the past, too. I’ve made the comment a few times this year that how he was used in the Major Leagues this season seemed to do him a disservice. There were simply too many times where he went 5+ days without pitching, and when he did go that long between outings, he simply didn’t pitch well at all. But, when he pitched regularly, he found success. In his first two starts with Louisville he walked eight batters in 9.0 innings over two starts. In his third start he walked two batters in 4.0 innings. That was 10 walks in 13.0 innings. Since that point, though, he has walked just two batters in 21.1 innings. He has also struck out 26 batters. The one mark on his resume over that time in the negative column is that he’s still struggled with the long ball, giving up six homers in that span. On a regular schedule, Robert Stephenson has responded well. He’s gone to Louisville and he’s thrown strikes. Over his last four games he’s thrown lots of strikes, 68% of his pitches have been strikes. The 24-year-old is going to need to work on limiting the long ball, but what he’s doing with finding the strikezone lately has been a very positive step. 34 Responses RedsKoolAidDrinker July 9, 2017 Doug what do you possibly attribute the blister issues to? Is it grip, getting used to a change that was made, something else or just a fluke maybe? Doug Gray July 9, 2017 The baseball. We’ve heard multiple big league pitchers say it’s different this year and they can tell. And that it’s leading to blisters for guys. Someone just brought it up again the other day. I can’t recall who it was (not a Reds pitcher). BJ July 9, 2017 Marcus Stroman for the Jays went off about it. Blaming MLB for the new baseballs. Doug Gray July 9, 2017 Yep. That’s who it was. Brett July 9, 2017 Has there been any noticeable mechanical changes that attribute to his recent success, especially his control? I always thought he could benefit from pitching exclusively from the stretch to limit over-thinking on his mechanics, much like Strasburg and Carrasco have. MK July 9, 2017 Not Doug but it could be the difference in seams on the balls. A Major League ball has very flat seams. A Minor League ball has a higher raised seams. if using the seams to throw a breaking ball or change-up it would require a little more pressure with a big league ball. If he used a stronger grip during his early big league time then did not let up a little back in minors he could have created some tremendous friction on his finger skin which could create a blister problem. Once you get one they are hard to heal and shake. Never have understood why there is a difference in the balls. A college balls seams are even higher. Luke July 9, 2017 Major league pitchers are complaining about blisters being on the rise because of what they say are the new balls. Their complaint mirrors yours, the stitching is raised DaveCT July 9, 2017 Other way around. ML balls have flatter seams, thus guys apply more pressure. As if the game isn’t hard enough already. Luke July 9, 2017 Dave, that’s the complaint. The pitchers are saying they are used to the flat seams and the new ones have raised seams and that’s why blisters are such an issue this year DaveCT July 9, 2017 Not sure where we are not communicating Here you go, from Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/four-perspectives-how-do-mlb-and-milb-balls-differ/ ML: flatter seams, more pressure, more blisters. MiLB: higher seams, looser grip, fewer blisters, in general. However, so when guys come back from ML’s if they do not adjust, the heavy exertion of pressure can also cause blisters, which is what the post above is referencing. That’s all. Champ Summers July 9, 2017 So I worked for one of the big 3 ball manufacturers and the college ball was changed to match the minor league spec. We used the term low seam vs flat seam. The seam was lowered on the college ball to create less drag. As a result college pitchers found it more difficult to throw the breaking ball but the 2 seamer moved a lot more. As the seams are tightened and lowered that same effect continues to a stronger degree. What Dave is saying makes perfect sense. Jasonp July 9, 2017 Is Garrett the only one of our young pitchers that has to be on the roster next year? Next year rotation will hopefully have a healthy Bailey and DeSclafani. Finnagan is going to have to compete with Castillo, Davis, Garrett, Reed, Stephenson, Romano for the 3-5th starting spots. There are going to be 4 of them that don’t make the rotation with Mahle waiting for his chance next year as well. I think in this off season we may have to look into trading one or two of them away. The extras can’t all move to the bullpen. If all the extras are in AAA then it means no one else can move up from AA when they are ready to. Wes July 9, 2017 Hard to think disco has a spot next year gaurenteed. More than likely yes but prob not guaranteed RedsKoolAidDrinker July 9, 2017 With the injury history of the Reds, I’d be afraid to trade any of them. Let them compete and and the others can work on what they need to or wait for an opening due to injury. Wes July 9, 2017 Just resign Feldman if u want to compete next year. That’ll go a long way and keep trade channels open. The Rage July 9, 2017 Feldman is Jimmy Haynes. Trade it and don’t regret. CP July 10, 2017 Agreed. Some of these men can buy their time in the minors, as much as they would hate that I’m sure. It spreads out more competitive years of cheap starting pitching, and protects against injury. It takes way more than just 5 SP to get through a season for any time, not to mention one like the Reds who have had such bad injury luck it seems. DanD July 9, 2017 If Castillo continues to pitch the way he has you can pencil him in the third spot. He really just needs to keep his pitch count down. He has the stuff to be a potential #1 in the rotation IMO. Patrick July 10, 2017 I heard the same story the last couple of years. Oh we have all of these starters. I say we need to go get reliable established starters if we hope to contend next year. Can not count on Bailey, Finnegan, Disco because of injuries Davis, Garrett, Stephenson, Reed, Castillo, Romano have not shown that they are major league ready to be counted on for 32 starts plus you should expect a loss of 1.5 pitchers to injury for a major league team, That goes up with young and pitchers coming off major injury. Doug Gray July 10, 2017 I guess the difference between saying it in the past and saying it now is that, well, the guys in the minors are actually at Triple-A now (or in the Majors). While it would be nice to go out and grab reliable starters, those types cost you $12M a year and you have to give them 3 years. That’s not going to happen for the Reds given that they’ve got everyone that you mentioned. Patrick Brame July 10, 2017 They need to trade for a #1 starter and a reliable #4 type(like what Feldman has done). I would go after Archer of the Rays Doug Gray July 10, 2017 I’m not sure that the Reds should ever trade for a #1 starter unless they are a for-sure-in-the-playoffs situation. Doing so right now would mean giving up big time prospects AND also paying a boatload of salary to acquire such a guy. CP July 10, 2017 There is also the issue shrinking your window for being competitive if you trade away so many assets to get just one player like that. The depth the Reds have built gives them the ability to be cheap and young for years to come. The cheaper and younger they are the longer they can try and remain competitive. Hoosierbadger July 10, 2017 I fear Finnegan will end up in the bullpen not because he doesn’t have the stuff to be a starter but because of his injury situation, like Iglesias. Wes July 9, 2017 Any word on disco? Shawn July 9, 2017 Disco threw 40 pitches off of a mound yesterday. He’s with the team. He threw all pitches and said he’s had no set backs. Article said it would be August. Reds4ever July 9, 2017 Garrett looked really good today, was mostly fastballs, looked like that’s what he was trying to work with the whole game. Was up to 96 today. Was sitting 92-94, hopefully this means his hip is feeling better. The Rage July 9, 2017 Yes, best he has looked all year, even over his first couple of starts in April. Greenfield Red July 9, 2017 I never saw him over 92 with the Reds. I didn’t see every pitch though. Jim Delaney July 9, 2017 With the Cubs bow looking like they are not going to be a juggernaut, I expect the Reds ownership will give front office the okay to make necessary moves to be a contender in NL Central in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if Winker, and some of the AAA starters are moved for a young proven reliable starter. Reds are going to have tough decisions with 40 man roster, making a deal prior to finalizing 40 man could be in the cards…. Shamrock July 9, 2017 I kinda hope we don’t expose Winker much more at the big league level. The market won’t be much for a backup left fielder/pinch hitter. asinghoff July 9, 2017 Cubs are young. Little too early to be writing them off just yet. Especially considering Happ is just a rookie and Jimenez is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. Paul Nyhart July 10, 2017 Their pitching has gone from “reeling” to “cause for concern” and they have zero help (in the minors) on the way. Doug Gray July 10, 2017 The Cubs just need some starting pitching to keep on going. They’ve got the pockets to make that happen. They are not only the team to still beat this year, but for the next 4 years.