Over the last month-and-a-half the Cincinnati Reds have gotten some very good starting pitching from their rookies for the most part. It’s extended even earlier than that when talking about Luis Castillo, has has been outstanding for the Reds since they called him up at midseason.

This weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates the Reds got outstanding starts from both Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano. They combined for 14.0 shutout innings with 14 strikeouts, three walks and just six hits allowed.  The two pitchers have been on a roll and those starts just continued what they have been doing of late.

Sal Romano over the last month has made six starts for the Reds. In that span he’s thrown 38.2 innings with a 2.09 ERA, 11 walks and 29 strikeouts. That stretch has lowered his ERA on the season to 4.07 in 77.1 innings.

For Robert Stephenson his stretch of strong outings goes back to the beginning of August. In eight games he has thrown 39.1 innings with a 2.52 ERA, 24 walks and 48 strikeouts. Thanks to his run as a starter he’s lowered his ERA on the season to 5.01 with the Reds. As a starter his ERA is 3.64 this year, while as a reliever it was 7.43.

Those two, along with Castillo, have shown stretches of big league ability that the team could possibly rely on to begin the 2018 season. Homer Bailey has also started to show some real signs of progress over the last two months as well. It’s probably safe to assume that if Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan are healthy in April of next year that they will all be in the rotation. The same goes for Luis Castillo. None of that includes guys like Tyler Mahle, who dominated at Double-A and Triple-A, while holding his own in the Major Leagues in limited action. Or Amir Garrett, who while he has had some struggles, has battled a hip injury during the season but flashed strong stuff – especially over the last month.

The health of those first three players is a big if. Homer Bailey, unfortunately, has had multiple arm surgeries over the last few seasons. Anthony DeSclafani has a torn UCL, and while it doesn’t appear bad enough at this point to require Tommy John surgery, it’s also led to him missing the entire 2017 season. With Brandon Finnegan, he is dealing with a should injury that has cost him almost the entire 2017 season. Their health shouldn’t be assumed.

That leaves the Cincinnati Reds in a very weird spot for 2018. If everyone is healthy, then they have more qualified starting pitchers than they have spots in the rotation. And they will also have some minor league depth beyond that. However, as we’ve seen over the past two seasons – counting on the health of the Cincinnati Reds starting pitching is a fools errand.

If you’re the Reds, what do you do?

What would you do if you were running the organization? Would you be looking to acquired another starting pitcher to join the rotation? If so, what would the plan be? Are you trying to trade from depth to acquire someone? What caliber of pitcher are you likely going to go after? Or are you hitting the free agent market and trying to find someone on a 1-year deal similar to Scott Feldman to simply bridge the gap, if needed, but provide some insurance in case the rotation isn’t healthy? Are you just sticking with what the organization has, hoping for some health and the young guys to keep progressing?

83 Responses

  1. Hal

    If I am king; Bailey, AD, BobSteve, Romano and Mahle are my rotation if all are healthy. Finnegan to the bullpen along with Reed. Keeping Stephens, Garrett, Davis etc in AAA for seasoning with the expectation that all are ready to be called upon when needed. I would strongly consider a Latos type trade for a package that would include Mahle and one or two of the other three AAA pitchers plus a Miles Gordon type. No way am I gutting all pitching depth or mortgaging much of my lower level lottery tix.

      • Hal

        Well clearly I am stupid, that is what about Castillo :-) That oversight moves Mahle back to AAA for “The King”. Must be a Monday!

    • james dehan

      Move Mahle back to AAA? Sure the kid has looked great and he’s got nothing left to prove in the minors and he’s looked great for the Reds in his limited action. So let’s just move him back to the minors.

      • Jason

        I have a feeling you’re going to be severely disappointed in what actually happens next season.

  2. KDavis

    Was thinking about this yesterday when the Reds were playing. I think you have to assume Castillo and Romano. Mahle may be left behind initially because of his age, but he should be pitcher #5A – first one up if any injuries.

    Stephenson has pitched better, but his walk rate is still too high. Given he had three years in the minors with high walk rates, worried that is ongoing.

    I hope you can count on two of Bailey, Desclafani, or Finnegan, just to give some stability.

    Garrett may be a bullpen guy just based on the numbers. Maybe the same for Davis and Stephens – swing type of guys who can starte if needed.

  3. Todd

    Pitching depth is a great thing – but young pitching depth is far more challenging. That is why Bailey and Disco (if he is 100% healthy) are no brainers for the rotation. After those 2, pick three from the following based on ST and health: BobSteve, Castillo, Mahle, Finnegan, Amir and Sal Romano. Finnegan should have a slight advantage as an experienced lefty, but having him as a southpaw in a back-end bullpen with Lorenzen and Iggy is pretty tempting. No reason to panic – just let it play out and hope 3 of the 6 reach their potential.

  4. James Dehan

    “That leaves the Cincinnati Reds in a very weird spot for 2018. If everyone is healthy, then they have more qualified starting pitchers than they have spots in the rotation. And they will also have some minor league depth beyond that. However, as we’ve seen over the past two seasons – counting on the health of the Cincinnati Reds starting pitching is a fools errand.

    If you’re the Reds, what do you do?
    What would you do if you were running the organization? Would you be looking to acquired another starting pitcher to join the rotation? If so, what would the plan be? Are you trying to trade from depth to acquire someone? What caliber of pitcher are you likely going to go after? Or are you hitting the free agent market and trying to find someone on a 1-year deal similar to Scott Feldman to simply bridge the gap, if needed, but provide some insurance in case the rotation isn’t healthy?”

    At first glance you appear to be stating the same thing about the situation the Reds could face at the start of 2018 – having a surplus of quality starting pitchers.
    Then you go onto ask about whether the Reds should add another starting pitcher.
    I currently count 7 (Bailey, Stephenson, Romano, Castillo, Mahle, Finnegan and Disco) with a couple waiting in the wings.
    Thus why add another starting pitcher?

    • Doug Gray

      Why? Because you may get to April and only have Homer Bailey as a guy in your rotation who has ever thrown 100 innings in a big league season in his life.

      • James Dehan

        If Disco isn’t ready to go by next April we (the Reds) may have yet another Homer Bailey on our hands – and we all know how that’s worked out for all concerned.

      • Jonathan

        I am not sure I understand the dislike of Homer Bailey as some Reds fan have…

  5. citizen54

    Bailey
    Castillo
    Disco
    Romano
    Stephenson

    I’d ease back Finnegan and put him in the pen ofr the time being. Mahle starts at AAA and is available in anyone falters or (shudder) gets injured.

  6. DocProc

    I once thought it would be a good idea to get a veteran arm to stabilize the 2018 rotation. But the free-agent pickings are slim, and the cost of acquiring a proven starter via trade would be high (see the Latos deal). Assuming Bailey and Disco are healthy, they can add enough veteran presence. Perhaps more important, we already have five young arms who have earned a shot at the rotation: Finnegan, Castillo, Mahle, Romano, and Stephenson. Which one of those do you bump for a veteran? And that doesn’t include Garrett or Reed—or Lorenzen (I think Price wants to give Michael a shot a starting). With 7-10 arms already in contention, paying good money or players to add a veteran arm doesn’t seem wise.

    Moreover, the veteran trio of Feldman, Arroyo, and Adelman didn’t eat many innings this year, nor did they add much value. They mostly stood in the way of developing younger talent.

    So I vote no on trying to add a veteran starter in the offseason.

    • James Dehan

      My point exactly, as some veterans who are not really worth their salt anymore were blocking a few youngster’s imminent progress this season. So Reds, let’s not do that again by acquiring another supposed veteran presence. Let’s go with the youngsters as they have more then demonstrated the ability to succeed. Jose Lopez is another pitcher who may be on the horizon – let’s go young.

  7. Tampa Red

    If healthy, Disco and Bailey are easy. Its easy to forget Finnegan’s 2016 season — 170+ innings, 145 K’s, 3.90 ERA — but I haven’t. If he’s healthy, he’s in. Castillo is in. For me, Romano gets the last spot.

    The problem is, Disco and Finnegan are big question marks. Even so, I wouldn’t make a move for a SP unless I was all in on a big time pitcher, and I’d go the free agent route. I’m thinking Arrieta for example. Or Darvish. Not likely to happen, but the Reds do have a history of selectively giving big contracts.

    Otherwise, I’d save trade chips for a big time SS, young, proven and controllable. What are the Cubs going to do with all those middle infielders? They’re going to need pitching. Just saying.

    The Reds are really going to miss Cozart next year. Peraza has a lower OPS than Hamilton, and isn’t as steady in the field. Not good.

    I’m not running the team and isn’t my money. But since you asked, that’s what I’d do.

    • James Dehan

      Big time SS? The Reds are already playing him at 3B, E Suarez – and our future 3B just tore up AA in 2017 to the tune of hitting almost .340. With Gennett at 2B, Peraza will serve his time as a platoon player – for the time being. It would be nice for the Reds to have a strong bench for once.

      • Tampa Red

        I doubt very much Reds management views Suarez as a full time SS, nor should they. In a league without Arrenado, Suarez is a gold glove winner at 3rd base. I can’t imagine he’d be even serviceable at SS.

      • James Dehan

        Hey Tampa Red, I simply don’t agree with your statement that the Reds shouldn’t consider Suarez at SS -but the Reds will probably have to move him as Senzel is the Reds 3B of the future – that’s why they drafted him.
        We’ll just see how that pans out.

      • smtides@gmail.com

        James, plans change. Votto was drafted as a catcher. Hamilton as a SS. Kris Bryant was drafted to play 3rd but about 30% of his career starts have been made in the OF. Javier Baez was drafted to play SS, but he’s made twice as many starts at 2nd base. The greatest hitter of his generation was A-Rod. He moved to 3rd because Jeter was a better SS. Chapman and Iglesias were signed to be SP’s. I could go on and on. The list is endless.

        So why does the young, controllable, established star — Suarez — have to move to make room for a guy that hasn’t yet had a single AB above AA, a move that would clearly weaken two positions defensively?

        Suarez isn’t a stop-gap ham and egger just filling in until Senzel is ready. He’s a bona-fide superstar defensively at 3rd, and has made himself into a very, very good, dangerous hitter. Basically he’s already what we hope Senzel might be, someday.

        In my opinion, there is only a slightly above zero chance that Senzel breaks camp on the 25-man roster. But when he’s ready and service time restrictions have been met, I doubt very much that it will be at the expense of Suarez’s playing time at 3rd base.

        Competition is healthy. Having multiple layers of talent is even better. Do you think the Cubs and their fans hate having so many 1st-rounders fighting for playing time at SS, 2nd base and the OF? But you’re right, we’ll see how it pans out.

      • Wes

        IMO Suarez should be starting short every game right now to see how he handles it. If he can- prob solved. Love his stat line at short! He’s our best option post cozart. Everyone is down on peraza but he’s so young he has time to figure it out and that seems to be reds plan.

        As far as I’m concerned there’s 2 guys I’m not taking calls on and that’s senzel and votto. I think senzel is going to be way better Suarez and when he’s ready Suarez will need to move. If it’s second then that’s not good for a lot of guys competing for that spot. Or you trade Suarez and he will have good value.

    • Norwood Nate

      I like the idea of going after a young, stud SS that’s controllable for the next 5 or so years. I’d rather spend the prospect capital at SS than SP at this point. Seems like we have a couple of guys stepping up towards their potential on the pitching side and a few more on their way. We don’t have anyone in our system as far as SS’s go that is projected to hit and defend well enough above RK ball.

      • Greenfield Red

        While I agree with you point Nate, I do think Downs and maybe Garcia will be at Dayton next year with Hernandez at Billings and Finol coming up from the DSL to AZL.

      • Norwood Nate

        I’m excited about the guys we have in RK league (Downs, Hernandez) and Garcia. But they’re all real young and no one has proven themselves in full season ball. At the very best, I believe they’re all at least 3 years away and that’s with aggressive promoting and no set backs. That just seems too long of a gap to not address the situation before hand if the Reds have any serious ideas of competing.

      • wes

        So like Correa or Lindor? Both those teams will be competing for a while so highly unlikely….

        what about a Brendon Rogers from Rockies? I think it’d cost a boatload like Trammel, Mahle, Romero. You think Rockies would do that? Would if you were Reds? We have prospects to spend, but man that’ll be a steep price.

      • Ryan

        What about Jurickson Profar? He only has 3 years of control remaining I believe but if the price is right, he could be a nice player to have. Probably would cost a pitching prospect though and a second piece.

      • Greenfield Red

        I’d rather the Reds resign Cozart for a fair deal for about 3 years than give up a bunch of prospects to trade for a SS not as good as Cozart has been this year.

      • Bill

        Ryan, Profar could be an excellent buy low opportunity. I would offer a starting pitcher such as Davis, Stephens, Mella or Lopez and Lavalley. Profar is young and talented, but Texas is clearly down on him. He is worth some risk to me.

  8. Jer-B

    I do not think they should go out and trade and or sign a starter unless they trade for a cheap controllable young stud.

    Odd are not everyone will be healthy at the same time during the season, but rotation should look like this.

    Bailey (lock if healthy)
    DeSclafani (lock if healthy)
    Castillo (lock if healthy)
    Romano (lock if healthy at this point)
    Finnegan (If healthy, could ease back via the bullpen, but should get a chance to start)
    Stephenson (If his command looks good in ST)
    Mahle (start in AAA & gets called up if anyone is injured or under performing)
    Garrett (If he does have an option, let him start in AAA. Slides to bullpen if he fails)
    Reed (should be a lefty bullpen power arm moving forward)
    R. Davis (Long reliever, swing starter, stash starting in AAA if not room in MLB)
    Stephens (Long reliever, swing starter, stash starting in AAA if not room in MLB)

    • James Dehan

      That means if the other starters are healthy and ready to go in 2018 then 2 young stud starters are going to be long men early in their career.
      In my humble opinion, the rotation should be as follows:
      1. Bailey
      2. Disco
      3. Castillo
      4. Finnegan
      5. Mahle
      with the 2 youngsters ready to step in when needed
      1a. Stephenson
      2a. Romano
      Thus no room for another veteran presence unless one of the above 7 were traded.

  9. Mark

    I’m not signing any pitchers period that are free agents. We have pitching depth and I’m filling bullpen with shackleford finnegan reed iggy Lorenzen McGuire. Peraza needs to go. Blandino backup infielder. Is turner the backup catcher?

    • CP

      Mez will be back and still under contract next year. He and Tucker B. take the catching duties so long as they are both healthy. Turner goes to AAA and is insurance if there is an injury to either.

  10. dan

    I would dangle Hunter Green, Eugenio Suarez and one of the 4 outfielders for an ACE.

    • Alex

      Suarez is one of the last guys i wanna trade. He has been improving alot this year on offense and defense in his age 25 season. Just seems like to much to get rid of.

      • James Dehan

        Sure, let’s trade a young player that may soon reach stardom with the Reds (E Suarez) and who’s under control for three more years and a pitcher that could be an ace for years (Greene) for some experienced ace that breaks down during the season (ex. Homer Bailey – by the way, how has his $1000M contract worked out for the Reds?). And for another example, let’s take a look at how Johnny Cueto is doing this year while being paid $15M (we could get that type of production from a pitcher already in the Reds system – at a significantly lower cost).

        So the idea is to go young while their cost is controllable – not throw a lot of $$$ at a player

      • James Dehan

        From Bleacher Report:

        “Knowing you can go out three out of five days and know you’re going to get a win.”

        In theory, yes. But in reality, the idea soon fell apart.

        Price’s left arm, which is valued at $217 million, started barking in late February and remains a question going into his season debut Monday.

        For one, he’s a 31-year-old with over 1,700 major league innings under his belt. Additionally, he had already been showing signs of decline in the form of reduced velocity and mediocre results in 2016. He also got lit up in both of the rehab starts he made for Triple-A Pawtucket.

        So for every Chris Sale, there is a Price to pay. And as far as risks, how have the Reds done with their other $100M pitcher? My vote stay young and controllable – because after that it gets volatile, to say the least.

  11. Klugo

    Depends on what we can get for Billy Hamilton.
    And the health of Bailey,Disco,Castillo,Romano,Stephenson. Those would be my top 5 right now. Lorenzen and Romano can duke it out for rotation vs bullpen duties. BobSteve and Mahle can duke it out for BigLeague vs AAA duties. Finnegan,Reed,Iggy,Wandy, TBD in the pen.
    If we can get a nice rotation piece for Billy and a lower level prospect or two, go for it. However, we may need more help in the pen. So, I’d give the green light for a strong return there for a BH package.

  12. Cbus

    I try and trade Schebler plus some prospects like Lavalley, Trammel, Aquino, etc for a good #2/3 starter type like Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, etc…

    Reds will be lucky if 1 of Homer, Disco, Finnegan make it through a full season next year imo. They will need another proven arm to go along with the youngsters. If by some miracle all 3 are healthy then Finnegan to the bullpen is not the worst idea ever.

    • Alex

      I agree Trade some of our surplus guys in the minors. If we can get a proven 2/3 guy that’s controllable for some years at least.Trade duvall or schebler whoever the team values more and I think even guys like tyler stephenson or jose lopez could be looks to be traded for a solid pitcher. Would be hard for me to trade trammel though!

    • wes

      Schebler, LaValley, Aquino all have no trade value. Trammel could be centerpiece in a deal but to bring back an Archer or Degrom type it’s going to take 2 more close to equal talents to Trammel like Suarez or Mahle then a Bobsteve or Romano. That’s market value for a guy who throws 200+ innings with 200+ Ks deemed as a #2 starter.

      So lets say Trammel, R Stephenson, and Suarez for Archer.

      Then you got
      Archer
      Castillo
      Mahle
      Bailey
      Disco/Romero

      I prefer DeGrom, playoff caliber rotation IMO. Super young! Maybe resign Cozart if you can get him for a team friendly if you trade Suarez

      • Tampa Red

        Wes loves to say that Schebler has no value. So I went to fan graphs to look at some advanced metrics at his position, filtering to a minimum of 450 AB’s. There are 24 players in this category (only 10 of them are 26 or younger.) Here is how Schebler stacks up against other RF’ers.

        Hard hit ball rate: 3rd at almost 41%

        Slugging percentage: 8th at .486

        OPS: 12th at .800

        Isolated Power: 5th at .252

        Schebler clearly has value, but of course that depends on the team. He would be an upgrade on roughly half the teams, including a couple of teams that are going to the playoffs.

        Where Schebler struggles, and what holds his overall numbers down, is his BABIP, a very low .253. Despite consistently hitting the ball harder than almost any RF in baseball, he doesnt elevate the ball often enough to take advantage of that. His ground ball rate is way high, over 45%, leading to the low BABIP. Conversely, his home run per fly ball rate is very high, 7th best among all RF’s. When he elevates it, it’s leaving the park at a high rate, a little over 22% of the time.

        The thumbnail version is that Schebler would definitely benefit from a more elevated swing plane. He has one of the more level swings on the team, maybe the most level. And it seems to me pretty clear that has been to his detriment. There is more that he could improve on, like every other player. But if changed nothing but flipping his ground ball/fly ball rate, his value would spike.

        Very interesting player, very strong and has monster potential if he makes a few adjustments. And if he doesn’t, he’s still a fair amount better than a league average RF. Unfortunately for him, that might leave him in a 4th OF role on future Reds teams. Good problem for the Reds to have. Could set up some nice matchup baseball.

      • Wes

        This is my metric- straily and scooter have way more of a tract record and way better stats while all 3 are very close in age. Straily and scooter were claimed off waivers; so why pretend like schebler is better?

        Secondly he’s an unproven power hitting corner outfielders. Power hitters who play corner and bat 230 grow on trees in MLB- why trade for one?

        If reds give 3 players for 1 guy and that team likes schebler then he’s the 3rd piece of trade and that’s the height of his value.

  13. DaveCT

    No signings.

    As a rebuild year, and given the success of the three rookies, Castillo, Romano and Stephenson, I say start from the bottom up with them, then fill in the top two spots last based solely on health (even with this being Castillo’s first full season as a starter). It is counter-intuitive to work backwards, but I believe in that line of thinking for the rebuild and the long haul. With a rebuilding team, who needs an ace or a number 2 guy? Mostly what you need is innings and that means health.

    So my best guess is Bailey then Disco. Finnigan, who I like as a starter, can work back via the bullpen for the inevitable injury or when Castillo needs rest. AAA will be well stocked with arms for added spot starts.

  14. Simon Cowell

    Best course is to not only go young but go with arms that zero history of ailments.

  15. Arnold Ziffle

    The Reds should have a quality starter at AAA for DeSclafani and Bailey as a Plan B. Much less worried about Bailey though. As DG pointed out above the Reds risk going into opening day 2018 with Bailey as the only SP to pitch more than 100 innings in a ML season before. That is enough to go out and make another Latos-type of trade for a starting pitcher.
    The new #1 would be the new acquisition, Bailey #2, DeSclafani #3, Castillo #4, and Romano #5. At AAA as Plan B is Mahle for DeSclafani. Jackson Stephens, Deck McGuire, and Rookie Davis also at AAA at the ready.
    Finnegan begins again in the pen. Iglesias, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Reed, Peralta, Shackleford or Brice or even McGuire, and Wojo fill out the pen.
    Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett are on the trading block. Adios amigos. Got to part with something good to obtain something good. Hola to a new #1 starting pitcher.

  16. CP

    I would only go after another SP if we can get one that is cost/team control for at least 3 years. Probably not worth the cost of acquiring them otherwise.

    Also, I would only deal opportunistically and out of depth.

    Scenario 1: Adam Duval (Major league proven power/strong defense combo), Tyler Mahle/Romano/Stephenson (Young cost controlled SP with partial major league exposure and performance), Herget/Hernandez (Young 5-6 years of cost controlled bullpen talent, Zeke White/type (Young low level talent with a couple high end tools, but probably just a throw in type)

    Benefits: Get to cash in on an older (29) OF and opens up OF logjam. Essentially swapping a young less proven major league starter with a more proven higher end talent, at the cost of a 30hr/great defensive OF, a solid bullpen piece, and and low level throw in. Still plenty of other young SP to compete and fill in as health/performance dictates.

    Not sure if anyone would go for that or not, but seems to be a pretty big cost to pay…

    Scenario 2: Scooter Gennett (Cashing in on best year of career, 25+hr 2B don’t grow in trees), Tyler Mahle/Romano/Stephenson (Young cost controlled SP with partial major league exposure and performance), Herget/Hernandez (Young 5-6 years of cost controlled bullpen talent, Zeke White/type (Young low level talent with a couple high end tools, but probably just a throw in type)

    Only difference here is Gennett I know.

    Benefit: This would be this years version of the Straily trade. Cashing in on a cost controlled talent that just had a career year, and cost the Reds nothing to acquire. This trade I would prefer over the first scenario simply because of the arrival of Senzel at some point in 2018. I think the loss felt in the lineup of Gennett will be more tolerable than Duval. Plus, I love Gennett, but I just struggle to really believe he will repeat next year what he did this year.

    Perhaps a team will want a younger SP type of like Scott Moss instead of the closer to major league bullpen type. That definitely increases the cost of the trade on the Reds side. But depending on who it is, maybe it’s worth it. I also would see teams asking for someone like Taylor Trammel. In my book, he should be untouchable along with Senzel and Greene.

    All said. I would rather trade for a younger proven SS or CF than a SP to be honest. Those holes loom larger in my mind, with no great internal options that are ready, than the rotation does.

    Assuming health, I would go with the MLB rotation of: Bailey, Disco, Castillo, Finny, R. Stephenson

    Then in AAA: Romano, Mahle, Reed, Garrett, Davis

    That gives two legitimate options to step in if injury and/or performance dictate a move be made, and three guys with some upside continued development in AAA.

  17. The Duke

    Once I take my reign as the benevolent dictator of the Cincinnati Reds, here is my opening day 25 man roster:

    1. Jesse Winker, RF
    2. Scooter Gennett, 2B
    3. Joey Votto, 1B
    4. Eugenio Suarez, SS
    5. Scott Schebler, CF (platoon w /Ervin)
    6. Adam Duvall, LF
    7. Alex Blandino, 3B (placeholder for Senzel for 2-6 weeks)
    8. Tucker Barnhart, C

    BN: Devin Mesoraco, C
    BN: Jose Peraza, SS/2B/CF
    BN: Billy Hamilton, OF
    BN: Phillip Ervin, OF (platoon in CF w/Schebler)
    BN: Brandon Dixon, Util (replaced w/Blandino once Senzel comes up)

    1. Luis Castillo
    2. Homer Bailey
    3. Anthony Desclafani
    4. Sal Romano
    5. Robert Stephenson

    LR: Tim Adleman
    MR: Deck MgGuire
    MR: Wandy Peralta
    MR: Kevin Shakleford
    MR: Brandon Finnegan
    SU: Michael Lorenzen
    CL: Raisel Iglesias

    I don’t trust Finnegan’s shoulder history and smaller frame, plus I am a strong believer that you need to dedicate significant arm talent to the bullpen as well as the rotation and can’t merely trust that an elite bullpen will emerge from the failed starters.

    If we’re going to have Senzel up at any point next year, better sooner rather than later once the extra year of control is established.

    I don’t trade Billy Hamilton away, but I do try a platoon experiment in CF with Schebler/Ervin to see if the defensive drop off is significant enough to offset any offensive games. BHam is also still a good weapon to use as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.

    Peraza I move to the bench until his performance dictates otherwise. His versatility as a backup MIF and CF has value though.

    Barnhart is just a better catcher than Mesoraco now. If Mez is healthy, he can back him up, if not, then I guess Stuart Turner gets bumped up from AAA.

    Mahle, Garrett, Reed, Stephens, and Jose Lopez in AAA. I move Rookie Davis to the AAA bullpen where I think he profiles better. Combine him with Ariel Hernandez (still needs better control), Jimmy Herget, and Zack Weiss, and we’ll have a lot of solid options in the AAA pen.

    • MK

      You know Duke if you use the old Branch Rickey theory it might be a time to see what Scooter can get them on the trade market. It is unlikely his trade value will ever be higher than it is now and looking at his career it is unlikely he can repeat his current performance.

      • The Duke

        If we could get something of real value, absolutely, but I don’t think his trade value would be enough to garner much and we would likely get some sizable fan backlash. If the value is there, do it anyway, but only for good value.

    • terry m

      Sorry Duke but you say you worry about Finny’s shoulder history but you have Homer and Disco as your #2 and 3 starter. Hard for me to get my head around that.

      We will just not agree on Finny but that’s ok. I think it will be an interesting ST in 18.

    • Troy McKevitt

      This is pretty much what I would like to see. I’d lean towards standing pat with the rotation. There are lots of question marks with health but right now I would feel confident with any combination of bailey, disco, finnegan, Castillo, Romano, Stephenson, Mahle and maybe Garrett. That leaves Reed, Stephens, and Davis in AAA or the pen.

      I don’t think I’d be willing to give up what it would take to get a top tier starter and I don’t see the reason to bring any other type of starter. I think the guys it would take to get an Archer type would be a combo of two of Castillo, mahle, Suarez, senzel, Greene, and trammell along with another prospect in our 10-20 range depending on preference. I’d rather the depth just sort itself out another year and then maybe you can take a crack at a free agent if the market is better.

    • Bill

      Good roster, Duke. I’m hopeful shoulder surgery brings Herrera into the picture as a bench piece over Dixon. Gennett could cover 3B with Herrera at 2B until Senzel is brought up in this scenario.

    • Andy B

      Duke, I think you just put together the worst defensive starting outfield in the majors. Schebler is fine in CF a few times a month, but he doesn’t have the speed or range to play there everyday. Winker is an average left fielder on his best days. Playing him in right will expose his lack of speed, range, and average arm over an entire season. Duvall is fine in left, maybe even above average, but that doesn’t make up glaring deficiencies in the other 2 spots.

      The Reds need to support their young pitchers with good defense. I’d like to see Duvall traded (if he even has any value after another bad 2nd half). Winker moves to left full time (his only position IMO), Schebler stays in right, and Hamilton gets the majority of the time in center. Get a 4th outfielder that can play all 3 and get on base (maybe, hopefully Ervin; side note: my realistic hope for Ervin is Gregor Blanco with more pop) and platoon that player with Hamilton 35/65.

      CF and SS are clear weak spots for 2018. If Hamilton can replicate 2016 while batting 8/9 in the order and Ervin turns into a rich man’s Gregor Blanco (weirdly intriguing, right?), I would be ecstatic. At short, the Reds should get creative and, like Duke said, give Suarez lots of reps there along with Peraza. We need to see how Suarez can handle SS and how Peraza develops. I’m not sure why this wasn’t done more in 2017.

  18. MK

    Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Stephenson, McGuire – starters out of ST

    Finnegan and Reed joining Peralta as lefties in the Bullpen. I am starting Disco in bullpen. If he gets through May healthy he can replace a young guy who is not performing. If Disco is healthy and performing well (which I doubt the former) I will try to trade him at the deadline.If Reed can show some progress I would consider him for spot starts at beginning then a larger starting role if needed. I am hoping McGuire, being a little older can fill that Feldman role. Would not be surprised to see Schebler traded this Winter and who knows who would be acquired there.

  19. Norwood Nate

    If everyone is healthy, I start Disco, Castillo, Bailey, Romano, and Stephenson. I have Finnegan start in the bullpen to make a nice little 4-man LH/RH back end of Iglesias, Lorenzen, Peralta, and Finnegan. I have Mahle start in AAA to season until an opening occurs due to injury (more likely with the Reds luck) or performance.

    Castillo and Romano have shown me they belong. Stephenson is as well, just hasn’t been doing it as long as the others, and with less control. I don’t think sending Stephenson back to AAA after some relative success starting in the big leagues would be a good idea. I’m not trying to suggest his ego is fragile, I have no idea, I just think it would be helpful for him to build on the strides he’s made this year.

    I have Garrett, Stephens, Davis, Reed and Lopez fill out the rest of AAA rotation with one of them moving to the bullpen.

  20. Steve

    For a couple of reasons, I don’t see the Reds bringing in additional starting pitching to start 2018. The Reds should be better next year, but I don’t think they have a real shot at contending until 19. They will still have the 3 big contracts, with Mesoraco’s falling off after the 18 season. And they have 7 solid starter candidates with a whole handful of potential lower rotation guys.
    To contend, they need to improve at catcher, figure out shortstop, integrate Senzel somewhere, and figure out the outfield. I’d be more inclined to move a combination of one of the outfielders/Gennett/Peraza/pitching prospect not named Castillo for catcher/shortstop solution. A core lineup with Votto, Suarez, Senzel, and 2 of Duvall, Schebler, Winker is solid, but if the other 3 are Barnhart, Hamilton, and Peraza, I don’t think it’s enough.
    Bring on a top flight starter to get you over the hump, not half way up the hill.
    And maybe a dumb question, but could Senzel play center?

    • Greenfield Red

      My only disagreement with your scenario is that in my opinion, you are selling Tucker way short. I think he’s easily in the top half of Catchers now, and if he could add about 10 more home runs a year, he becomes top 2 or 3 in the game. He’s a solid .270 (batting 8th no less) who plays great defense and handles pitchers really well.

      • Norwood Nate

        I agree with selling Tucker short. He’s a bit below average overall as a hitter, but top third in starting catchers as far as offense. Add in his elite level defense and Tucker is a keeper in my book.

    • RedsinWashSt

      You keep Tucker, great defense, handles pitchers great and never gets hurt.

  21. The Rage

    Castillo and Romano are done deal, unless they get hurt in the rotation guys. The Reds love themselves some Sal Romano and he has not disappointed them with his performance down the stretch.

    The rest is open depending on health, maturation, trade potential and style. I think Disco is toast and should be be released. Especially in the fact he has spurned the Reds advice on his UCL problems. Classic denialist despite him having a likely faster recovery than most TJ guys.

    • Greenfield Red

      I have not seen that he has pushed back against TJS. Everything I hear is that the Reds are trying to rehab him through it. Respectfully, where is this information from?

  22. Kap

    Castillo, Bailey, Disco (if healthy), Romano, Stephenson, and Mahle (If Disco is unavailable)

    Not opposed to trading for a difference maker either. A difference maker in my opinion is someone like Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Micheal Fulmer, or even Aaron Nola.The Reds have the farm system to pull that off, even if that means parting with a prospect like Taylor Trammel or in crazier circumstances. Remember, these guys are just prospects and they have another top 10 draft pick next year.

    I think anyone worth a look from the Reds on the free agent market would be too expensive. If they don’t make a trade and keep all their prospects, that okay also. Really can’t go wrong either way in my opinion. As long as Castillo stays here…

  23. wes

    Reds need to build up value of potential trade targets. Right now to add an ACE they’d have to give up on one or more of Castillo, Greene, Trammell, Iglesias, Suarez to get a DeGrom type- anything less than that type of player we already have…

    So I start
    Castillo – A hot start to season and he can solidify front of rotation spot; borderline untradable
    Stephenson- If him and Romero can put together 3 good months to start season their value will sky rocket!
    Romero-
    Disco – Had top of rotation potential at one time- 3 good months and he’s viable option to acquire
    Homer- just as a salary dump to a large market team needing an inning eater.

    Reds really need to open up a spot for Mahle once time served is saved.

    I think Finnegan is going to start season hurt then end up in pen. If he can start again next year I want Reds to open up 2 spots in Rotation with Finne and the whole slew of guys remainging

  24. Andy

    My rankings in confidence, admittedly weighted by 2017 performance: Castillo, Bailey, Romano, Mahle, Desclafani, Stephenson, Finnegan, Garrett. No way I give Disco/Finnegan free pass to slot in rotation if healthy… they have to prove that performance after recovery is better than other contenders.

  25. PATMC

    Total pipe dream, but I go after Yu Darvish hard in the hopes that it nets us Otani Shohei also because I’ve read that they’re buddies. Just to clear up, the reds are able to offer what every other team can (aside from those that have traded for additional space like the Yankees and Red Sox, correct?

    Also, another pipe dream, but is there any chance the Reds could trade for Buster Posey? The giants seem to be in a clear rebuilding mode as they are terrible and have no farm system, and the Reds have considerable depth. Catcher seems to be an area where we have no chance at elite level production and that could really put us over the top.

    • Doug Gray

      No, the Reds can only offer $300K to sign Ohtani. Some other teams can offer about $10M.

      And I think it’s more of a pipe dream that that Giants trade Posey to anyone than the Reds somehow signing Ohtani.

  26. Simon Cowell

    Louis Castillo
    Romano
    Mahle

    Stevenson needs at least one more good start not for performance but to show endurance
    Then one of Bailey, Disco, Finnegan. Would be my choice

    But PR salaries and the labor union will not allow that Bailey, Disco, and Finnegan start if they are still Reds in 2018

  27. Cguy

    It’s Finnegan’s right shoulder, not his pitching shoulder that’s injured, & by sometime in May he’s in the rotation. DeSclafani, on the other hand, has pitching elbow problems & may not be able to handle the rigors of an sp job. Reds need to sign a Travis Wood type or a LOOGY, but no FA sp. Castillo & Romano will not be denied starter jobs. Bailey is in, if healthy. Stephenson & Mahle are just too close to call. By June first (w/o injuries): Castillo, Finnegan, Romano, Bailey, & Stephenson.

    • Doug Gray

      To be fair, Finnegan was shut down twice this year with an injury to his teres major in his pitching shoulder.

  28. sandheel

    Somewhere, among the plethora of young arms there will emerge a Maddox, Glavine, Smoltz type trio. A nice dream, anyway.

  29. AlexB

    His injuries are concerning, of course, but if he can come back healthy in spring training I would give Finnegan a long leash as a starter next season. The improvements he showed at the end of last season and the first start of 2017 are too encouraging to give up on him as a starter. In his last 6 starts of 2016 and his first start of 2017 he had a 2.83 FIP, 31.6 K%, and a 9.9 BB%. The improvement pretty much directly coincides with increased usage of an improved changeup which lines up with the narrative we heard about Straily teaching him his changeup. That’s pretty impressive for a guy that’s thrown fewer than 100 innings in the minor leagues and is younger than Castillo and Stephenson.

  30. Bill

    I think the Reds should play the pitchers currently in the organization banking that the progress we’ve seen late this season translates to next season. Keep the prospect depth inplace for upgrades at the trading deadline if we’re competitive or for post 2018 off-season if next year turns into “sorting part 2”.

  31. MikeinSoCal

    Good article on Redleg Nation (sorry Doug) about advanced metrics, future production. The OF to keep would be Schebler. The guys to trade would seem to be Duvall, Gennett, BHam, and maybe Peraza.

    Gennett and Cozart had a career year and we won’t see that again. BHam and Peraza are what they are. Schebler will get better.

    • Paul Nyhart

      I find it hard to believe you can look at Pereza, a 23 year old player with 700 at bats, roughly a third of which he hit over 300, and say “he is what he is.” That’s not to say he’s a proven player in a positive light; he’s made some careless plays this year and certainly looks like he needs to learn a lot more about the game, but he’s not in the same class as the guys in their mid to late 20s IMO.

      Schebler and him have almost as many at bats as one another, and their career OBP is roughly the same. Granted I didn’t read the piece you’re referring to, but I’d have to believe Peraza still has better overall tools.

  32. Andy B

    Disco, Bailey, and Castillo should be locks if healthy. I think they should look for a #3/4 in free agency (another Feldman type signing but maybe for 2-3 years). Going after an ace right now seems premature. Then let Romano, Stephenson, Mahle, and Finnegan compete for the final spot. I would lean more towards giving it to Romano or Stephenson, moving Finnegan to the pen and Mahle to AAA if all are healthy. Keep a lot of the young depth in Louisville and consider moving 1 or 2 of Stephens, Reed, Davis, or Garrett to the bullpen.

    If the Reds make a trade for an ace, I think Suarez, Senzel, and Castillo should be absolutely untouchable. I would be extremely hesitant to give up Trammell, Winker, Greene, Downs, or even Santillan, and only minorly less hesisitant with Long and Siri. However, they would have to give up at least one of those guys and probably 2 or 3 for an ace. I don’t think it’s worth it.

  33. Ryan

    Bailey
    DeSclafani
    Castillo
    Romano
    Stephenson

    I would put Finnegan in the bullpen to start the season assuming everyone is healthy (big if). Still a little leary about Finnegan’s shoulder injury and max effort delivery. I would give Finnegan or Mahle a shot as starter 5A in the inevitable injury to one of the starting 5. Romano has shown enough in my mind to get another shot next season. His age 23 season numbers are very comparable to Finnegan’s age 23 stats. Better FIP for Romano than Finnegan, and he has more of a starter’s body. Stephenson has shown flashes of great stuff and somewhat improved command that I want to see more of him.

    There are several options for the rotation that I hold off on signing a veteran pitcher for next season. The 2018 season will truly be the season of sorting. By the end of next season, we will know more of what we have and if we need to make a trade or sign a veteran pitcher, during which there will be several free agent options.

  34. Jason

    Gonna add in my two cents a day late:

    Cincinnati trades:
    Adam Duvall
    Tyler Mahle
    Jose Siri

    Toronto trades:
    Marcus Stroman
    Richard Urena

    The rotation then becomes:
    Stroman
    Bailey
    Disco
    Castillo
    Romano
    Stephenson

    (I list six because at least one of these guys will be hurt on OD)

    RF Winker
    3B Suarez
    1B Votto
    RF Schebler
    2B Gennett
    C Barnhart/Mesoraco
    SS Peraza
    P Stroman
    CF Hamilton

    Bullpen
    CL Iglesias
    SU Lorenzen
    SU Finnegan
    MR Peralta
    MR Shackelford
    LR Romano (Stephenson goes to AAA, not the bullpen if not starting 5)

    Bench
    IF Blandino
    OF Ervin
    IF/OF Kivlehan
    C Barnhart/Mesoraco
    IF Vincej (if Stephenson goes to AAA)

    • Ryan

      I’d definitely make that trade but I have a feeling that wouldn’t be enough for the Jays. I think they would ask for another major league ready pitcher. I think someone like Amir Garrett in addition to the others would hopefully be enough for them though.