Why there should be growing concern among Reds fans for Andrew Abbott

Andrew Abbott has pitched well, but there's something amiss this season.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Andrew Abbott (41) walks off the field. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Andrew Abbott (41) walks off the field. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The typically unflappable Andrew Abbott was rocked for six runs on seven hits in the Cincinnati Reds matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals last week. Abbott returned to the mound against the Colorado Rockies on Monday and looked more like himself, tossing six innings and striking out six.

But a troubling statistic has caught the eye of some Reds fans, and it's a bit disturbing. Abbott has allowed 12 home runs so far this season, which is second-most in the National League behind only Padres' starter Michael King who has allowed 13 round trippers in 2024.

Reds LHP Andrew Abbott has allowed a lot of home runs this season

Last season, in 109 innings of work, Abbott allowed just 16 balls to leave the yard. Given his current rate, Abbott may in fact double that number by the end of the 2024 season. Abbott is on pace to allow 34 home runs this season; a number that not even Luke Weaver surrendered in 2023.

But perhaps as troubling as the high number of big flies the southpaw has allowed in 2024 is the low number of strikeouts. Now most baseball fans know that a high number of strikeouts don't necessarily equate to being an elite pitcher, but the top-20 strikeout leaders in Major League Baseball this season all have a sub-4.00 ERA.

Typically, those pitchers who rack up a ton of K's rely on high velocity. In turn, it's not out of character for those types of pitchers to see a lot of home runs due to the fact their upper-90s fastballs are providing the power for the opposing hitter's home run — Reds fans have seen this in the past with Hunter Greene.

Andrew Abbott's strikeout numbers have dipped significantly

But Abbott does not possess that elite-fastball. In fact, Abbott's average fastball velocity, according to Baseball Savant, sits at about 92.8 mph. Abbott was striking out 26.1% of the batters he faced in 2023, but that number has dipped to 18.4% this season. Abbott now ranks among the bottom 25% in the league in whiff rate, chase rate, and strikeout rate. Those are all down significantly from his rookie campaign.

And those home run numbers cannot be blamed on the small dimensions of Great American Ball Park. Abbott's splits this season have been about the same regardless of whether or not he's pitching at home or on the road.

By no means should Reds fans be hitting the panic button. Abbott has shown an ability to go deep into games — averaging nearly six innings per start. Since Abbott's eight-strikeout performance on May 4th against the Baltimore Orioles, he has allowed 12 runs on 28 hits in five starts with a 4.81 FIP.

The Reds have received great efforts from their starting pitchers this season — particularly Greene and Nick Lodolo — but they need Abbott to return to the same pitcher he was in 2023.

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