Reds: Tyler Mahle is the key to the starting rotation being a strength

Tyler Mahle will start Game 2 of the 2021 season for the Cincinnati Reds. With Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani having packed up and headed out west over the offseason, Mahle is now thrust into the spotlight as one of the better pitchers in the Reds’ starting rotation.

Mahle’s performance this season will be key if the Cincinnati hopes to keep their rotation as the strength of this team. Given the number of talented pitchers in the Reds’ farm system, a strong showing from Mahle in 2021 could be the difference between him being a key member of the rotation going forward or on the outside looking in heading into next season.

Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle emerged last season.

After posting a 3-12 record in 2019, it looked like Mahle was ticketed to start the 2020 season at Triple-A Louisville. After all, Cincinnati had a stacked rotation of Luis Castillo, Sony Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and new arrival Wade Miley.

However, the coronavirus pandemic postponed the start of the 2020 season and Mahle took advantage of injuries to Miley and DeSclafani and started nine games last season for the Reds last season. Mahle posted career-bests in K/9 (11.33), ERA (3.59), ERA+ (138), and WHIP (1.154).

Mahle’s strong performance even bumped Miley from the starting rotation, forcing the veteran into a relief role to finish out the 2020 season. Entering 2021, both Mahle and Miley will be counted upon to keep Cincinnati’s rotation as one of the strengths of the team.

Reds up-and-comers could force Tyler Mahle out of the rotation.

While I don’t expect to see it this season, the Cincinnati Reds have plenty of young arms who look to be ready to make their impact felt at the major league level. Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, Lyon Richardson, Tony Santillan, Vladimir Gutierrez, and current reliever Tejay Antone all have the ability to join the Reds rotation.

The presence of those six pitchers will put tremendous pressure on Tyler Mahle to perform well this season. Entering next season, barring a trade, there could be two openings in the rotation. Both Wade Miley and Michael Lorenzen will be free agents next winter. Lorenzen could be a candidate to sign an extension, or even return to the bullpen.

Mahle has the potential to be a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. The right-hander saw his strikeout-rate jump to 29.9% last season, and even his fastball velocity was up (93.9 MPH) a tick as well.

It all starts on Saturday when Tyler Mahle takes the hill versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Mahle, in eight career starts, has just one win against the Redbirds with a 5.45 ERA and 1.437 WHIP. The 26-year-old has a chance to flip the script when he heads to the bump at 4:10 ET.