If you were to hand out the Cincinnati Reds minor league post-season awards right now, Tyler Mahle would be the run away winner for Pitcher of the Year. The 22-year-old right hander has posted a 1.97 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 132.1 innings. That’s come with just 29 walks and 129 strikeouts in 22 starts.

With the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the first half, Tyler Mahle posted a 1.59 ERA in 85.0 innings over 14 starts. He’s barely missed a beat with the promotion to Triple-A. In his eight starts with Louisville he’s posted a 2.66 ERA in 47.1 innings for the Bats. This is all just more of the same for Mahle, who posted a 2.43 ERA last season between Advanced-A Daytona and Pensacola.

The California native is not on the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster currently. He will need to be added to the 40-man in the offseason in order to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. The only chance in which he isn’t protected by the Reds is if they trade him before he needs to be added in the 4th week of November. If he’s still in the organization, he will be protected.

With his performance this season, and the general performance of the Cincinnati Reds starting pitching as a whole, the question floating around everywhere is whether or not the Reds should put him into the rotation in September to get a look at what he can do in preparation for the 2018 season. It’s not an easy question to answer, but let’s take a look at both sides of the argument.

The argument to call up Tyler Mahle

While he’s not on the 40-man roster, he has to be added in the offseason, so adding him in September wouldn’t be adding him well before it’s needed and wouldn’t use up an option that you otherwise wouldn’t use. From a purely numbers perspective, he’s dominated both levels he’s been at. He pounds the strikezone most of the time and has limited walks throughout his entire career.

Getting Tyler Mahle experience in the Major Leagues now would give the team, and himself a better idea of what to expect in 2018. If there are things he needs to work on, he can enter spring training next year knowing what those things are and possibly be better prepared for that. It would also give him the chance to get any of those “rookie jitters” out of the way if he were going to have them.

The argument for not calling up Tyler Mahle

The big argument is that Tyler Mahle isn’t on the 40-man roster and to get him there you would need to remove someone else. In a rebuild you want to keep as much talent as possible and you would be risking losing talent for a few starts in September of a lost season by making that move. Calling him up in September would also give him service time, meaning that next year, if you believed he was ready, you’d have to keep him down longer in order to gain an extra year of control, or avoid Super 2 status if that’s the angle you wanted as well.

Another argument is that you’ve got plenty of time to get information on Tyler Mahle, but you’ve got less time with other players. Tyler Mahle will not have to stick on the big league roster until the 2021 season at the earliest. Amir Garrett will be out of options next spring and has to stick on the roster. It’s probably a lot more important to see what he can do in September than what Mahle can when it comes to planning out the near-term future. There is also the question of his secondary offerings. As I wrote after he made his Triple-A debut, they just don’t stick out at all right now. Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser spoke with Bats pitching coach Jeff Fassero last night after Mahle’s start in Durham and he had this to say about his secondary offerings:

His off-speed pitches still need to be better,” Fassero said. “They’re not outstanding yet. They’re maybe average, maybe a little bit below.

With lackluster, so-to-speak secondary offerings, perhaps more time in the minor leagues to work on that would be beneficial rather than having him come in and show off an above-average fastball, but struggle to put hitters away with any secondary offerings, leaving him to rely on his fastball.

Both sides of the argument can be made and have plenty of validity. It will be interesting to see how the Reds play it. We will know over the next four weeks what their decision will be and whichever one it is, it’s going to make sense to a lot of people. Some others, though, may not understand the move nearly as much.

36 Responses

  1. SteveO

    Definitely yes! The Reds need strike throwers and Mahle is one of the best in the organization. Wojo has proven to be one also in his last 2 starts and warrants another start in 5 days. Castillo, Wojo and Mahle will keep the Reds in the game on most nights that they pitch until the 5th or 6th inning, if not later. He will have to be added soon anyway. He is currently the best prospect pitching in the minors and has consistently outpitched his counterparts in Louisville. Feldman and Adleman should not be starting for the Reds from September on as they should have no part in the starting rotation in 2018.
    I think the even more intriguing question is should Herget get called up? I think yes also. I know he doesn’t need to be on the 40 man in 2018, but he’s the best reliever that’s not on the roster and the fans would rather see him pitch than Wood, Storen, Bonilla or Adleman. Weiss is another one. I’d personally like to see Bailey, Disco, Finnegan, Castillo and Mahle as starters with Wojo, Weiss, Herget, Hernandez, Brice, Peralta, Lorenzen and Iglesias in the bullpen in 2018. If Disco and Finnegan can’t go because of injuries, Wojo slots in to a rotation spot and 2 of Stephenson, Garrett, Reed, Davis, Stephens and Romano gets the spots. One as a starter and the other the long man. Farrell, Lopez and Reyes might be pushing them too. If McGuire and Ross are still in the organization, they might also challenge, but not preferable. And don’t forget about Moscot and Travieso.

    • HavaKlu

      Hopefully the Reds can find a buyer for Drew Storen and then fill his spot with Zack Weiss—–to me, this is the guy I would be most interested in seeing the rest of the season.

    • AlexB

      I wouldn’t count on Wojo for anything other than a bullpen role. Batters have a .508 OPS against him the first time through the lineup but it jumps up to 1.015 the second time through and over 1.5 the third time

  2. Simon Cowell

    The Reds are going to have to dump some players off their 40 man roster one way or another. I suspect that both the Reds and Phillies are going to be huge targets of rule 5
    I would still keep Tyler at AAA. move him to the 40 man in the off season. See what is in the tank for players that are sitting on the fence.

    • Champ Summers

      This is the time of year Doug usually gives a sneak peak to who will be eligible for the rule V if not protected. I look forward to the list. I guess it’s College guys drafted the year Mahle was drafted and HS guy drafted the year before? Not sure on the International guys. That always confuses me.

  3. Simon Cowell

    Reds 40 man roster suspect list. This is my list of potential removals from the 40 man roster one way or another.

    1. Tim Adleman
    2. Drew Storen
    3. Blake Wood
    4. Lisalverto Bonilla
    5. Zack Cozart
    6. Arismendy Alcántara
    7. Scott Feldman
    8. Dilson Herrera
    9. Keury Mella

    Now just who do the Reds absolutely need to protect or I should say need to add to the 40 man roster?

    • Keith

      I’d add newly acquired Luke Farrell to the list, as well as Jackson Stephens. I would remove Herrera from your list — can’t imagine getting rid of a 23 year old who has shown as much promise as him, even with the injury questions and the down season this year.

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      No on Mella. Too young to give up on and only 23

      No on blake wood. There is a lot of what ifs in that arm. Looked amazing last night.

      Cozart will be a free agent.Reds can do without him. Injury prone with ZERO value.

      Drew storen will be a free agent. Can help this bullpen next year if he comes back.

      Bonilla intrigued me with the 8 inning complete game loss earlier this year. Showed alot of maturity that game. I think the only minor leaguer to come up and do it. There might be something there. Deep down in there.
      Reds might be better served better by working on his control. Maybe a new pitching coach at AAA. All of these pitchers and i mean all, have terrible control. Something needs to change.

      Now that dilson had his shoulder fixed, he should be better. He’s better than advertised. Would keep him.

      Reds just have a terrible player developmental history. I believe if you gave the astros perazza, he’ll be the next big thing in baseball. Give stephenson and Reed to the dodgers and red sox respectfully. Both will be taught how to pitch. Give Suarez to the blue jays, He’s encarnacion part 2. The reds players are being pushed through the minors like high schools push kids through without knowing how to read.Its ridiculous. It all starts at the sole problem of this franchise: Chris Buckley and the whole minor league coaching roster..

      • Marc

        Wonder if we can sneek Dilson through with the injury?
        Would be risky for someone to take him, and keep him on the MLB roster for the whole year?

      • Randy in Chatt

        Chris Buckley drafts them. He does not develope them.

    • Bubba Woo

      Amen. Also add in Bonilla, Farrell, Shackelford, Stephens, Woj (has already been DFA’d three times this year with nobody but the Reds interested), and Ervin.

      The Reds have been saying for three years now that they want to be ready to contend by 2018, so let him take his lumps now. He may not have the ceiling of a Castillo, who has ace potential, but the floor is probably a third or fourth starter on a contender. A rotation in 2018 of Castillo, Descalfani, Finnegan, Bailey, and Mahle with Garrett/Romano waiting in the wings might be good enough to get them to .500 next year at least.

  4. Patrick

    I was thinking of this last night when figuring out Septembers rotation. I would say no. There are others that we need to look at. Bailey needs to start to get him sorted out.
    Would like to see Reed, Stephenson, Garret all get starts. Would like to see if Wojo can keep it up. I also do not see them benching Feldman if he is healthy. Then you have Disco. I expect Castillo to be shut down because of innings

    So you already have too many starters to look at to bring up Mahle to start.

    • Marc

      If Feldmen can come back healthy. He will be traded before 1 Sept.
      Will not get much back.

  5. Pat

    No – we’ve seen what pushing guys up has yielded this season ouch. The Reds have time. Keep developing him. The Reds don’t need him this season – they’re toast already. This is the hard part of a rebuild. They have time with him.

    • citizen54

      Agreed, let him work on his secondary stuff in AAA. MLB hitters destroy fastballs. Also, we need to see what we have in Garrett and others before they run out of options. We still have plenty of time with Mahle.

  6. Kap

    If they can trade storen, cosart, or Feldman before the end of august, this decision will be a lot easier

  7. Billy

    How is Mahle looking from a workload perspective? He threw 150 or so innings last season, right? That would suggest that he’s probably in line for about 180 this season. Will he hit that by just throwing in AAA? Would MLB time push him over?

    I think I’d tend to be conservative with him and keep him in AAA for this season. Assuming he continues to progress as he has, I think I’d make him my first call-up next season when a rotation spot opens. That should provide an extra year of control, and hopefully give him some time to develop some of those secondary offerings.

    • MK

      I figure 40 more innings tops. Thought he might be a likely candidate for AZFL

      • Billy

        Isn’t it unusual for a top pitching prospect to play in the AFL unless it is to get in some innings (generally because of injury during the season)? I wouldn’t have thought Mahle would be on the list of potential AFL candidates.

        I’d think he’d get about 4 more starts this season for Louisville. That probably puts him in the 160-170 range for the season. I guess they could give him 1-2 more starts in either the MLB in September or the AFL afterwards, but I doubt they’d want to do anything beyond that. So maybe they’d consider it.

  8. Champ Summers

    Not sure who’s take it was but scrolling through twitter yesterday and someone made the argument that Mahle would actually not be a Sept call up if the Blue Wahoos make the playoffs. He suggested that he would be added back to their roster to gain experience in post season competition. I guess it’s possible.

    • MK

      Not sure he can be demoted back at this late date and be eligible for their playoff roster. Typically you can be promoted late but not demoted and eligible.

  9. Bill

    Definitely no! Work on secondary offerings and give the starts to Garrett, Stephenson, Wojo, Bailey, and Reed/Romano. If Mahle needs more innings, send him tothe AFL and don’t start his service time prematurely.

  10. sultanofswaff

    Bring him up, let him find out if his stuff plays or if there’s more work to be done.

    I don’t worry about playing the service time game with pitchers. As we’ve seen with Garrett/Reed/Stephenson, it’s not as likely that a pitcher will stick and that their development path will be linear.

  11. greg

    Keep him down, let him develop the secondary stuff. Dangerous to have him come up and feel that he can only use the fastball to survive in the majors. Plus, they should be milking all the service time they possibly can out of these guys, so they should get the last of the minor league time out of the way the first couple weeks of ’18 and not have to worry about it anymore.

  12. Brad

    Easy no for me. Wait for off-season to add to 40-man. Give remaining starts to Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Garrett, Stephenson. More important to figure out if Garrett will be a starter or reliever in 2018. Let Mahle compete for a rotation spot out of spring training with preference of bringing him up with Nick Senzel in May/June.

  13. Arnold Ziffle

    There is no need for a September call up for Tyler Mahle. Get both Mahle and Senzel up to the Reds on April 20, 2018. This gives the Reds the extra year of service time on both. I wouldn’t worry about the Super-2 status on either. Bring them up in April.
    Get Reed and Garrett both up in September to audition for next year or to re-establish some trade value. One or both could be traded this winter.
    Blandino should get a September call up. Ervin will get a call. Elizade might too, as he was a late spring cut. Hernandez, Astin and Shackleford probably will be too for the bullpen.

  14. Billy

    Doug, how does Mahle compare with Cingrani? When Cingrani was blowing through the minors, the knock on him was that he was too reliant on his fastball and he didn’t have the secondary offerings to go with it. He came up to the majors and had some initial success as a starter, but once the league figured his fastball out, he was relegated to middle reliever status with no secondary stuff to throw with it. Is there a fear that Mahle could follow that same path? How does Mahle’s secondary stuff compare to Cingrani’s at the same stage of development?

    • Doug Gray

      Mahle’s actually got secondary offerings he throws. And while they generally aren’t good. They aren’t terrible, either. Cingrani was all fastball. You’d see a slider at times, but he was like 80-85% fastball.

      • Travis

        1. Cingrani is a lefty his fastball obviously is going to move differently than a rhp fastball which we have seen homerun after homerun and He got lit up this year on his “80 percent fastball” ….. Doug who do you see moving off the 40 man this year to make all this room for all of the rule 5 guys including Mahle if he goes up even before off season?

      • Kinsm

        “Amir Garrett will be out of options next spring and has to stick on the roster.”

        —Amir will qualify for a 4th option year next season, as he burned all 3 before accumulating 5 years of full-season service. For math purposes, 2013 doesn’t count because he didn’t spend 90 or more days on a full season roster, only 2014/15/16/17 count.

      • Doug Gray

        How have we gone this long without this coming up before?

  15. Travis

    The jump to MLB from the minors is not an easy one…. a lot of the pitcher’s that have struggled in the MLB this year pretty much dominated their careers In the minors … and in the MLB you need as much secondary and off speed you get get or the ball goes over the fence … I say call him up to see what he needs to work on in off season… or just wait until next year to help him build confidence first because that jump for no reason without success is a mental game which is why a lot of our guys are stuck in AAA it’s all mental not skill