Reds: 3 players who must improve in order to make playoff push

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 05: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his three-run home run. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JULY 05: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates his three-run home run. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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Lucas Sims #39 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JUNE 21: Lucas Sims #39 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

3. Reds reliever Lucas Sims must cut down on his walks.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that two of the three players on this list are relief pitchers. And let me be very clear, you find too many people who are bigger fans of Lucas Sims than me. I advocated for Sims to be the team’s closer prior to the season, and I still maintain that he’s the best option. However, he must improve heading into the second-half of the season.

First of all, Sims must get healthy. The right-hander was placed on the IL in June and looks to be on track to return to the mound later this month. That will be welcome news for David Bell who’s had to deal with a patchwork bullpen for most of the season.

Michael Lorenzen’s return will certainly take some of the pressure off Lucas Sims. Outside of Tejay Antone, no one had been counted on more than Sims during thee first-half of the season. With both Antone and Sims shelved over the past few weeks, Heath Hembree has stepped up.

But, for this Reds’ pen to be successful, Bell needs Lorenzen, Antone, and Sims healthy. That alone will help balance the workload. In eight of Sims’ 28 appearances, he’s gone more than one inning. On four occasions, Sims has worked two innings, and 11 times Sims has gone over 20 pitches.

Lucas Sims’ K/9 (13.81) and strikeout-rate (34.9%) are at career-highs for the former Braves’ prospect. However, Sims’ 4.71 BB/9 and 11.9% walk-rate are the worst they’ve been since the 27-year-old joined the Reds.

There’s also a fair amount of luck involved in Sims’ outings this season. The right-hander has a 5.02 ERA and 3.44 FIP. That’s a difference of 1.58. Sims’ BABIP is also sitting at .333 while opposing batters are only hitting .221.

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Lucas Sims has the potential to be a lock-down closer in the ninth inning, and I expect David Bell to use him as such once he returns. The Reds need Sims to be at his best over the second-half of the 2021 season.