The Upgraded Reds, Hamels the Leader, and Other Bullets

Social Navigation


The Upgraded Reds, Hamels the Leader, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I just realized that, being that The Littlest Girl has very rarely been sick in her two years, we have definitely never gone through a stretch where all three kids were sick at the same time. In fact, it’s been a really rare occurrence that two of our kids have been sick at the same time. No wonder yesterday felt like such a marathon that The Wife and I quietly exhaled and fist-bumped as the kids all slept and she headed off to bed at the end of the day. Good game. Good game. Back at it tomorrow.

  • After an offseason that had already seen them add Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Tanner Roark, now the Reds have also added starter Sonny Gray. This is a club that wants to compete while they still have some productive Joey Votto years left, which is understandable. But how much will they actually get from the up-and-down Gray, and will it be enough to compete at the top of the Central? Jeff Sullivan writes about the Gray-specific part, noting among many other things that although Gray was brutal in New York and fantastic on the road, you can’t immediately assume he’ll just be great in Cincinnati because that’s not New York. The guy still has to execute, as we saw last year with Tyler Chatwood. He was much worse with the Cubs on the control side than he ever was pitching at Coors Field.
  • Gray, 29, has had two of three years with an ERA near or above 5, has seen his strikeout rate dip near 20% and his walk rate push near 10%. You can’t succeed like that unless you’re a fantastic contact manager, and last year, Gray got smoked too often. We’ll see what the Reds have in him this year and beyond. He’s projected by Steamer to post a 3.89 ERA, which would make him a very solid middle-of-the-rotation arm (10% better than league average), and would help solidify a Reds rotation that will pitch in front of a good lineup and a potentially very good bullpen.
  • The trade bumped the Reds up to a projected 80 wins by FanGraphs, which is tied with the Pirates, ahead of the Brewers (79?), and behind the Cardinals (86) and Cubs (87).
  • This is fun to note:

  • Like we said before, this Cubs rotation certainly has the horses to be quite good. Yes, there’s downside risk owing to recent injuries and aging, but that’s a lotta big names. That isn’t everything, but starting pitchers get big names because they’ve done things like Michael notes.
  • I can’t help but think this was part of the reason the Cubs wanted so badly to retain Cole Hamels for 2019:

  • A veteran leader on the pitching staff can help younger pitchers in countless ways, from structure and routine to tips on opponents to mechanics and grips to living your life in a way that helps you succeed. The Cubs are fortunate to have several of them in the rotation, who can collectively help some of the younger arms that will hopefully soon percolate to the big league level.
  • In other words:

  • Here’s hoping the film study discussed in there in the NBC piece – the study that allowed Hamels to refine his mechanics with the Cubs and add 2-3 mph to his fastball and cutter after a midseason trade to the Cubs – keeps him on point this year.
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
  • When a young catching prospect, who has significant offensive upside and hit well as a 19-year-old in full season ball, is named the best defender in the organization … that gets you excited:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.