Unexpected contributions from ex-Reds players has fans wondering what could've been

These former Reds have certainly started hot in 2024.
Cleveland Guardians pitcher Ben Lively
Cleveland Guardians pitcher Ben Lively / Jaiden Tripi/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds have tossed aside the awful West Coast road trip and have jumped back into contention with a recent surge of good hitting and great pitching. The Reds are still behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central, but have made some headway and re-energized the Cincinnati faithful.

But the Reds aren't the only ones who have been reinvigorated this season. Several ex-Reds — who were part of last year's team — have gotten off to spectacular, and perhaps even, unexpected starts with their new teams in 2024.

The Reds have dug themselves a hole with early-season struggles, but one has to wonder if things would've been different had these three players still been part of Cincinnati's roster. These unexpected performances may have some Reds fans wondering what if.

Former Reds RHP Ben Lively is having success with the Guardians

Sorry, Reds fans, but moving on from Ben Lively this past offseason just didn't make any sense at all. Is Lively a frontline starter? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. But as spot starter or long reliever, Lively could certainly have been a useful arm for manager David Bell this season.

In nine starts for the Cleveland Guardians this season, Lively is 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA. The right-hander has 47 strikeouts in just over 50 innings pitched and was quite the find for Cleveland this past winter. Lively signed a one-year, $750,000 contract and has been worth every penny. It's still bizarre to think that Cincinnati moved on from Lively after the unexpected success he had in 2023.

While Lively's 5.38 ERA last season was nothing to write home about, let's not forget about the August 1st affair when he slogged his way through four innings and allowed 13 runs while the rest of the Reds bullpen was utterly exhausted after seven pitchers were used during the previous game. If you eliminate that one outing, Lively's ERA is a much more respectable 4.27.

Ex-Reds reliever Derek Law has been indispensable for the Nationals

Derek Law served a similar role to what Reds fans have seen from Brent Suter. You might even say that Suter is left-hander version of Law. Last season, Law saw time as an opener, long reliever, and even a closer.

This past winter, Law followed former Reds Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel to our nation's captial and joined the Washington Nationals. Unsurprisingly, Law is continuing his run of being an incredibly reliable reliever in Major League Baseball.

This season, Law owns a 2.78 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 29 appearances out of the Nats' bullpen. Much like the Reds the past two seasons, the Nats are in the midst of a rebuild, but Law doing what he did during his two seasons in Cincinnati — finding a way to get outs. With Suter in the fold, it's tough to say that the Reds miss Law, but you can never have enough pitching, right?

Former Reds closer Hunter Strickland is the LA Angels best relief pitcher

No one should be surprised that Ben Lively or Derek Law have found success this season. But what Hunter Strickland is doing for the Los Angeles Angels in 2024 is rather unbelievable. The right-hander, who was in the Reds' minor league system last season, has been Angels' manager Ron Washington's best reliever this season.

Strickland pitched in 12 games for the Louisville Bats in 2023 after being outrighted to Triple-A following spring training. The right-hander posted a miserable 11.45 ERA, 2.273 WHIP, and was eventually let go last spring.

This season, after having contract selected by the Halos, Strickland is 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 21 punch outs in 26 innings pitched. The veteran has allowed just one home run and five walks all season and owns an impressive 0.808 WHIP. Who is this man, and what have they done with Hunter Strickland?

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