Cincinnati Reds’ prospect Robert Stephenson looks to cement his place in rotation

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Cincinnati Reds face the Chicago Cubs, Robert Stephenson will be looking to make an impression.

When Cincinnati Reds’ prospect Robert Stephenson makes his sixth start of the season, you get the sense that he wants to take things to the next level.  Five games into his MLB career, Stephenson has only had one bad start.  He wants to ensure his spot in next year’s rotation.

In his first start against the Pittsburgh Pirates Stephenson only went three innings.  Six days later he started against them again.  In the second match-up he lasted five.  One can only imagine what he will do when he faces them the next time.

This start vs. the Cubs is a bit different.  The only team that Stephenson has faced which is remotely close to the Cubs is the New York Mets, and it is remote.  Stephenson threw 100 pitches over 5 1/3 in the loss to the Mets.  He only allowed seven base runners, while striking out 9.

That’s Stephenson’s only loss of the season.  He also hasn’t won a game since he was recalled on September 1st.  Both of his wins came from his early season call-up in April.

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Facing the Chicago Cubs will a different experience.

The Cubs are second in the National League behind the Colorado Rockies in runs scored.  They’re fifth in home runs, but that’s not what makes the Cubs’ offense special.  They’re special because they lead the NL in walks.  They strikeout a lot, but they more than make up for it by getting on base.

The Cubs’ team OBP of .342 leads the NL.  They’re slugging is second to the Rockies.  They are fifth in home runs.

Where they aren’t great is in batting average.  They only rank seventh in batting average.  They are also seventh in hits, so this isn’t a case of at-bats causing a lower results offense.  They see a ton of pitches and sometimes contact doesn’t turn into hits.  Of course, striking out does lead to lower batting averages, since the only ball that can’t become a hit is the one that isn’t hit into fair territory.

Next: The Reds' misuse of the bullpen costs them again

Which brings us back to the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect, Stephenson.  He will have to be go after the Cubs directly.  The chance of giving up a home run is much less than the risk of walking multiple batters in one inning and having to face the rest of the line-up.  Wunderkind Kris Bryant is ninth in all of baseball in strikeouts.  That is the Cubs’ weakness, but Stephenson will have to attempt to get ahead of the Cubs even at the cost of a potential strikeout.