Cincinnati Reds: 3 players who won’t be back in 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Robert Stephenson #55 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 26: Robert Stephenson #55 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Robert Stephenson #55 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during team scrimmage
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 18: Robert Stephenson #55 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during team scrimmage (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

1. Robert Stephenson, Reds relief pitcher

It’s very hard to Robert Stephenson’s name atop the list of players who ought not return in 2021, but I think that’s where you have to start. Stephenson has been given more than his fair share of opportunities to  carve out a spot on this team, and his underwhelming performance in 2020 cannot be ignored.

Stephenson was the Reds most improved player in 2019. The right-hander went from first-round bust to a reliable arm at the back-end of bullpen. Stephenson held onto a spot in 2019 by the skin of his teeth. Having no minor league options remaining, the Reds held onto Stephenson, ended his time as a starting pitcher and inserted him into the bullpen.

The results speak for themselves. In 2019, Robert Stephenson put up a career-best 3.76 ERA, 125 ERA+ and a 1.036 WHIP. Next to Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett, Stephenson was the most reliable arm in the Cincinnati pen. Oh, what a difference a year makes.

This season, Bob Steve only competed in 10 games. He posted a 9.90 ERA, 43 ERA+ and a WHIP of 1.400. Now it’s a bit difficult to make a judgment based on just 10 appearances, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt in a 60-game season. Plus, Stephenson spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list as well.

Stephenson’s strikeout-rate, according to FanGraphs, remained about the same. It was 30.9%, a career-high, in 2019 and 30.2% this season. Even his walk-rate, which Stephenson was able to lower dramatically from 2018 (19.0%) to 2019 (9.2%), was solid at 7.0%. But Stephenson’s eight home runs surrendered in 10 innings pitched cannot be ignored. Adios, Bob Steve.