When pundits turn in their predictions in the coming weeks for this year’s version of the MLB postseason, our guess is the Reds aren’t going to be crowned as champions by many scribes.
Maybe part of that has to do with the club’s lack of playoff experience, and maybe part is based on Cincinnati’s generally lackadaisical attitude toward the team. Others will point to the Reds’ starting rotation, which is now without stud rookie Mike Leake and probably the least talented among baseball’s playoff-bound teams.
Cincy’s three-man October rotation will most likely consist of Bronson Arroyo, who has a 4.05 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 30 starts this season, Johnny Cueto, 12-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 28 starts, and, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Edinson Volquez.
Volquez spent a large chunk of the 2010 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and serving a 50-game suspension for a positive PED test. But he threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10 batters last week against Pittsburgh and allowed just six hits and fanned seven in 6 2/3 innings today against the Diamondbacks.
“He’s throwing it as well as anybody we have right now,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the Enquirer Thursday. “That’s a positive sign. … His endurance is up. His velocity is up. … His tempo, rhythm and overall delivery are
better. He’s not forcing it. He’s letting it flow.”
The Reds are currently eight games up on the Cardinals in the National League Central. Within the next week or two, they will be celebrating the organization’s first playoff berth since 1995.
Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.
While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.
Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”
Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.
If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.