1 overlooked ability that newly re-signed Reds pitcher Hunter Strickland can provide in 2023

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (54) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (54) throws a pitch. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds made an addition to the bullpen on Saturday after agreeing to a minor league contract with reliever Hunter Strickland.

It's easy to bemoan this move after watching Strickland put forth a rather poor performace in 2022 with the Reds. Strickland was 3-3 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.508 WHIP in 66 appearances out of the Cincinnati bullpen last season.

But there is one overlooked aspect of Strickland's 2022 performance that went unnoticed. Strickland was one of the very few players to not make a trip to the Injured List last season. The other was veteran infielder Kyle Farmer.

Hunter Strickland brings durability to the Reds bullpen.

Hunter Strickland appeared in 66 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2022, leading all pitchers. His 62.1 innings of work were second among relievers behind only rookie right-hander Alexis Diaz.

Now, some folks may look at that and say, "who cares?" Well, Reds manager David Bell certainly does. In fact, the Cincinnati skipper said as much in a conversation with the media on Saturday. Here's a quote from Bell via MLB.com:

"Hunter was available for 162 games. I haven't been doing this for a long time, but I'd never seen that before. Even after three [games] in a row, he was always available on that fourth day. That's just who he is, what he believes he's paid to do."

David Bell, Reds manager

Now, you could argue that his availability is meaningless if he's unable to get opposing batters out. And that's a fair point, but with the Cincinnati relief corps already looking like the walking-wounded, the Reds may need a reliable arm like Strickland to begin the season.

The Reds are already going to be without Vladimir Gutierrez for the entire 2023 season after the right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last season. Tejay Antone had a setback and will miss Opening Day as well. It also appears that reliever Tony Santillan is behind schedule and he'll be placed on the IL to begin the 2023 season.

Hunter Strickland doesn't have a guaranteed contract and won't be called upon to be the team's closer in 2023. But having a veteran in the bullpen like Strickland can certainly add value. No, this isn't a team-altering signing that will change the complexion of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, but it's a low-risk move that can't hurt.

Next. 5 bold predictions for the Reds 2023 season. dark