Promoting Chris Reed before Zach Lee would be foolish

So, I saw something on the Internet today — and we all know that whatever you see on the Internet must be true. Some folks are clamoring for a prospect to replace Dan Haren (who pitches tonight in Anaheim) in the rotation.

First, it was Zach Lee — the prospect everyone loves to over- and underrate. Now, it appears to be Chris Reed, which I don’t fully understand, other than he isn’t Zach Lee. This has nothing to do with him being my “boy,” more than it has everything to do with logic.

Lee is a better prospect than Reed. Despite Lee’s struggles at Triple-A Albuquerque (seriously, the numbers are ugly), he’s better than those numbers. He still has a quality fastball that sits in the 88-92 MPH range and has touched 95 MPH in the past. He also throws a 2-seam fastball that has produced a career-best ground out-to-fly out ratio (1.77). The biggest issue with Lee is the lack of a go-to secondary pitch. Last season it was his slider, this season (at least early on) was his curveball — he told me as much at spring training. His changeup has been inconsistent, earning reports of MLB-ready to below-average.

But Lee’s pitchability and maturity on the mound are what stand out most when evaluating him. He had more success at Double-A than Reed in fewer innings. Reed is in his third stint at Chattanooga, and hasn’t exactly been great or lived up to his No. 16 overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft. Also, Lee’s control and command are superior to Reed’s — even this year. Lee is posting a career-worst 3.3 BB/9, while Reed’s career-best is 3.6 BB/9.

Reed has always been a reliever in my eyes, but Chris Blessing’s scouting report of Reed has some positives in it.

“The biggest adjustment for the 6-foot-4, 195 pounder is his new and improved balance point. Gathering at the balance points allows the pitcher to collect energy before driving towards home plate. No longer in a rush, the lefty is able to trade effort for balance and control. In turn, his lower half  is now working efficiently. The 2014 version of Chris Reed generates more power from his base, enabling the Stanford alum to minimize wear and tear on his elbow and shoulder.

While his velocity hasn’t increased, mechanical adjustments have improved Reed’s 88-91 MPH fastball exponentially. In previous seasons, the pitch suffered bouts of flatness. Now, the two-seam fastball has evolved into a true sinker with late drop and sharp arm-side run. While Reed is able to control the pitch for strikes, command is a primary issue for the left-hander. The pitch does flatten when left up in the zone. Reed must maintain the pitch low in the zone to be effective.”

This is somewhat encouraging, but the 24-year-old has been pedestrian since a hot start.

First 7 starts

43 IP, 1.88 ERA, .149 BAA, 4.8 H/9, 0.2 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9, 62 Game Score

Last 16 starts

94 IP, 3.83 ERA, .259 BAA, 8.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 50 Game Score

If Reed were performing more like he did in the first seven starts, I could see a case for Reed over Lee. But Lee is still a Top 5 prospect in this system and actually profiles as a starter long-term.

I realize Lee will never be Chad Billingsley or anything close to him, but I still think he could be a high-end No. 4 starter. He might be a better option for the rotation than sending Haren and his 86-88 MPH fastball out there every fifth day (when’s the phantom DL coming?). If only Ross Stripling hadn’t blown out his elbow.

Ahh hell, just call-up Julio Urias and be done with it. If this were next year, I’d be serious.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.