The 2023 Major League Baseball season is preposterously young and inexperienced. The 2023 Cincinnati Reds starting rotation is preposterously young and inexperienced. Drawing any conclusions from what we’ve seen from the Reds, or from anyone else so far, is a fool’s errand.
That doesn’t mean we can’t point out what the numbers say when they say them, however - especially when some of them are damn fine and shiny. Are any of them long-term trends? That’s doubtful, but they could be! Are some of them actually indicative of things to come? Could be!
Let’s start with the heaters, since they’re obviously quite good. Hunter Greene’s on the staff, and he throws absolute gas, so you’d expect the numbers to be pretty rosy there. On the other hand, Luis Cessa’s heater has averaged 92.2 mph so far in 2023, a number which checks in as the 273rd fastest average of anyone who has chucked a fastball so far this season, and Connor Overton throws a bit slower.
The end result, though, is a league-leading 96.2 mph on their heaters. 1st place. 1st out of 30. The fastest-chucking chuckers among starting rotations league-wide. That’s something!
So far, at least, that velocity has managed to coincide with swings and misses. The 11.27 K/9 sported by Cincinnati Reds starting pitchers ranks as the 2nd best mark in all of baseball, behind only the Texas Rangers (11.55). Keep in mind that the Texas Rangers spent $300 million to build their starting rotation over the last ~15 months while the Reds...well, you know.
Keep in mind that the Reds opened their season with a pair of series at home in Great American Ball Park, the world’s official Home of Copious Dingers [TM]. They then followed that up with a trip to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, another house that dingers built, and faced off against a lineup with a litany of high-priced sluggers. GABP (1st, by far) and CBP (5th) ranked prominently in Statcast’s MLB Park Factors for homers during the 2022 season, yet the current corps of Cincinnati starters sport an impressive 0.78 HR/9, to date. That ranks as the 10th best in all of baseball at the moment, a victory in itself, really.
Their 3.37 FIP? 4th best!
Their 25.4% hard-hit rate? 3rd lowest, which is a good thing in that category!
It’s enough to make a trip to FanGraphs, who provided this wonderfully good-news data, one that makes you smile about Reds pitching a little bit. Just make sure you keep it on the ‘Starters’ tab when sorting the pitching stats and not the ‘Relievers’ one, lest you desire a descent into the depths of the leaderboards over the last few seasons.
Heck, with Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Greene fronting this group all year, some of these might even be worth revisiting come August or September!