The Cincinnati Reds wanted the former top prospect to win the fifth spot in the rotation.
The Cincinnati Reds thought Robert Stephenson was finally ready to stay in the majors. After a rough start to the season Stephenson went down to the minors. When he came back up he looked like a different pitcher.
Over the course of the season, Stephenson looked OK for the Reds. He went 5-6 with an ERA of 4.68. He made 11 starts over 25 appearances.
His stuff was always there. He struckout 86 over 84 ⅓ innings. He also picked up a three inning save early in the season.
In Louisville Stephenson was primarily a starter. He went 1-2 over eight appearances. Stephenson also pitched 40 ⅓ inning including one relief appearance.
He struck out 45 and walked 13 for a good balance. However, he also allowed eight home runs. 2017 was his first season with a minor league relief appearance.
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Despite being hailed as a top prospect, Stephenson hasn’t ended a season with a winning record since his first year in minor league ball. That was also the only time that he had an ERA under 3.50. He never seemed to produce as well as his talent.
Now Robert Stephenson is on the verge of pitching himself out of the Cincinnati Reds rotation.
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Stephenson lost his only spring decision so far this year. He has a 15.00 ERA over a pair of games. He has started once and relieved once.
Over three innings Stephenson given up seven hits, while allowing five runs, all earned. He has surrendered a pair of home runs and four walks. He has still struckout five, despite allowing a .467 batting average.
All that adds up to a WHIP of 3.67 and a pitcher that looks destined for Triple-A. This is the second spring in a row that Stephenson didn’t look ready. It took him until into the second half of the season to recover.
It doesn’t help that three of the starting pitching options for the Reds haven’t allowed a run. Amir Garrett was the Reds best starter last year before an injury tore apart his season and hasn’t allowed a run. Neither has prospect Tyler Mahle nor Jose Lopez.
Regardless what happens later in the season, Stephenson has nearly pitched himself out of the rotation to start the season. Unlike last year, the Reds have plenty of depth, if Stephenson doesn’t fix his problems. Even if he does, there may not be a place for him in the Reds rotation any longer.