It's no secret that the Cincinnati Reds have a few holes in their starting pitching rotation. The decision to not add a starter at the MLB trade deadline was paritially based on the impending returns of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo.
But the Reds' pitching performances have haunted them over these last few games, and there is a glaring hole or two that needs filled as soon as possible. Ben Lively was rocked for 13 runs and then put on the IL, while Luke Weaver has a 6.98 ERA in 19 starts this year.
Greene and Lodolo remain the best two replacements for the aforementioned Lively and Weaver, but the earliest either is expected back might be more than two weeks away.
Lack of command may see Reds prospect Connor Phillips remain in the minors until 2024.
With Ben Lively on the IL, the Cincinnati Reds now have a spot in the rotation that needs to be filled. Connor Phillips lines up to start for Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, and could easily supplant Lively in the rotation.
However, Phillips has struggled with command since moving up to Triple-A, and it may keep him from making his big league debut in 2023. Whether it was the enhanced-grip baseballs in Double-A or just a different level of competition, Phillips' command has wavered since joining the Louisville Bats.
Since his promotion to Triple-A Louisville, control and command have been hard to come by for Phillips. According to FanGraphs, the right-hander has walked 19 batters in 27.2 innings. That's 6.18 walks per nine innings pitched compared to 3.76 walks per nine innings during his 14 starts at Double-A.
Connor Phillips walk-rate has jumped as well from 9.5-percent in Double-A in 16.4-percent in Triple-A. The free passes haven't caught up with Phillips yet, as he owns a 1.95 ERA in six starts with the Louisville Bats.
While the Cincinnati Reds are desperate for starting pitching, Phillips' lack of control and command may come back to haunt him and prevent the 22-year-old from making his major league debut this season.