The Reds top draft choice of 2011 has been recalled for his second try at nailing down a spot in the Reds’ struggling rotation.
Stephenson started the season as a long reliever in the Reds’ bullpen with an eye toward getting back to the starting rotation. He appeared in 13 games in relief with an 0-2 record, a save and an 8.03 ERA.
The 24-year old walked 16 batters in 24 2/3 innings or 5.8 per nine innings. That was unacceptable to manage Bryan Price.
Stephenson made seven starts and eight appearances in Louisville. He was 1-2 with a much improved 3.79 ERA. More to the point Stephenson cut down on walks. He walked 13 in 40 1/3 innings or 2.9 per nine. His Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched was a very good .99.
“I saw a higher percentage of strikes from the reports,” Price said. “He has a slider that he can put in the strike zone.”
The challenges for Stephenson were both physical and mechanical. He tweeked his delivery.
“I feel good about the progress I made in the last couple months,” Stephenson said. “I tried to put my hands over my head but I walked a lot of guys, so that didn’t work. I started with my hands lower and that worked better. My slider last time wasn’t very good. Now I have a lot of confidence in it. I feel like I worked really hard to get back.”
Price handed over keys to the secondbase job to Scooter Gennett which means Jose Peraza will get less playing time.
Peraza hit .324 in 72 games over the second half of 2016. This year he is hitting ,253 and worse still, he’s getting on base at a paltry ..277 clip. Peraza has drawn just six walks in 344 at bats. Last season he was on base .352 percent of the time but only walked seven times in 241 at bats because he hit is way on base/
Meanwhile Gennett has been ultra productive off the bench. In over 100 fewer at bats than Peraza (2310 Gennett has a .307 averag with an OBP of 357, 16 home runs and an astounding 54 RBI in 79 games.
“Scooter’s numbers speak for themselves,” Price said. “The move serves two purposes. We get Scooter’s production and Jose gets a blow (rest). Jose is professional enough to understand. We don’t view Peraza as a utility player but we are going to move him around a bit.”