Cincinnati Reds: Pedro Strop will prove the most valuable signing of 2020

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Pedro Strop #46 poses during Cincinnati Reds Photo Day on February 19, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Pedro Strop #46 poses during Cincinnati Reds Photo Day on February 19, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Pedro Strop brings veteran experience to the Reds bullpen.

Next week, the 2020 Cincinnati Reds season finally begins with a matchup against the Detroit Tigers at Great American Ball Park. Soon Reds fans will get their initial glance at the big free agents signed by the front office during the offseason.

It’s expected that Mike Moustakas will man second base, Nick Castellanos will set up shop in right field and Shogo Akiyama will patrol center field. Starter Wade Miley will help solidify the starting rotation as the fourth or fifth starter. Those players have received a lot of attention since signing with the Reds, and rightfully so.

There is another, under-the-radar, free agent signing that likely won’t appear in as many games, but will have just as big an impact. This is relief pitcher Pedro Strop, and by the end of the 60-game season, he will prove the most valuable free agent signing of the group.

Strop signed with the Reds following seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs. During his time in the Cubs bullpen, Strop had a 2.90 ERA over 373 innings, while striking out 425 batters. From 2014 through 2018, he struck out at least  57 batters each season.

His career-high in strikeouts came in 2015 when he punched out 81 batters. His playoff pitching experience spans 19.1 innings, including two innings in the Cubs 2015 World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Strop’s ERA did balloon to 4.97 in 2019. Based on his career statistics, hopefully, this was an outlier year. The positive from the 2019 season was his 10 games saved. This was the second consecutive season where Strop closed out 10 or more games. With 32 career saves, Strop’s experience as a closer could prove beneficial to the Reds in 2020.

Last year, closer Raisel Iglesias struggled to a 4.16 ERA, while giving up 12 home runs. If similar issues arise in 2020, Strop could reduce the pressure on Iglesias by moving into the closer role occasionally.

Strop’s experience pitching in big games will help a Reds bullpen looking to live up to high expectations. During a 60-game season, when each game will matter, having a strong veteran presence to mentor young relievers will prove extremely valuable. In the same way Scott Rolen provided veteran leadership to the 2010 Reds offense during their playoff run, Strop can provide the same to this year’s bullpen.

When Pedro Strop officially joined the Reds, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “it was tough to pitch against (the Reds)” last year. After all, Strop hitting Yasiel Puig with a pitch last year caused a bench-clearing situation at Great American Ball Park.

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If all goes well and opposing teams find Strop tough to hit in the later innings, it will not only make the bullpen better, but also give the Reds more opportunities to win games. No offense to Moustakas, Castellanos, Akiyama and Miley, but if Strop can make the bullpen stronger, he will be the most valuable free agent signed by the Reds before the 2020 season.