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The Red Report 2021 - Sean Doolittle

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A look at the newest Reds relief pitcher.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Carmen Mandato-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

  • Born on September 26, 1986 in Rapid City, South Dakota. You know who else was born in South Dakota, known worldwide as “The Best Dakota” (is it though??)? Former Reds relief prospect Layne Somsen! Somsen was the third South Dakota State Jackrabbit to make his debut in MLB, joining fellow relief pitcher Blake Treinen... who, like Doolittle, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics. We bring our facts full circle here at Red Reporter.
  • Doolittle, however, spent his formative years in New Jersey, leading his high school to a state championship before going on to star at the University of Virginia.
  • He was actually picked by the Braves in the 39th round of the 2004 MLB draft, but opted to attend UVA. He was then drafted in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft by the Athletics.
  • Is a great Twitter follow!

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round (41st) of the 2007 MLB draft.
  • Made MLB debut on June 5, 2012.
  • Exceeded rookie limits in 2012
  • Traded by the A’s to the Nationals on July 16, 2017, along with Ryan Madson, for Jesus Luzardo, Sheldon Neuse, and the aforementioned Blake Treinen (who the A’s had scuttled to the Nationals back in 2013).
  • Signed by the Reds as a free agent on February 8, 2021 (1yr/$1.5M)

Career Stats

Scouting Report

Statcast
Brooks Baseball
Statcast

Doo-gifs

Projections

Fangraphs

Outlook

The last couple of seasons have been a struggle for Doolittle, a relief pitcher who, not all the long ago, was one of the best in the game. In 2018, his first full season with the Nationals, he was an All Star, pitching 45 innings of 1.60 ERA ball, with a 10 K/BB ratio to boot. In a word, he was fantastic.

2019 and, in particular, 2020, were struggles for Doolittle, however. Our own Tony Wolfe has taken dives into the reasons why over at Fangraphs in late 2019, and then again here at Red Reporter at the time of signing. We don’t need to rehash all of that here again, just go read those great stories.

Somewhat unsurprisingly in this day in age, Doolittle worked through rehab using high tech cameras and weighted balls; the “new” pitch training regimen that is all the rage. Nate Irving, the Reds bullpen catcher, was an instructor of his, and the idea that he could come to Cincinnati and continue working on that type of thing was apparently intriguing to the player. Kyle Boddy has another reclamation project on his hands.

As such, Doolittle has already spoke about dabbling in pitch design, and that he has a new pitch that he’s ready to unveil this coming season. A breaking ball that is more curve than slider, it’s something he’s never really dabbled in before, apparently. If it allows him to rely less on a fastball that no longer heats as high is it once did, it may allow him to find new life as a reliever.

And goodness knows the Reds need it, having to fill two Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley sized holes at the back of the bullpen. No word yet on how many saves Payroll Flexibility will have this coming season.