Chris Reed Is A Reliever Now, Finally

Pretty much from the day he was drafted in 2011, I’ve figured that Dustin’s boy Chris Reed would end up being a reliever. After all, he was a reliever in college, and though the Dodgers swore up and down that they drafted him with the 16th overall pick that year because they really liked him, it was all too clear that the likelihood that he’d be an easy sign played into it, given the depths of the McCourt mess the franchise was in at the time. (First rounders taken after him that year included Sonny Gray, Kolten Wong, and Blake Swihart.)

I think I’ve been writing here and at the old site for years about how he’d eventually end up in the bullpen, but he kept starting — 73 of his 79 appearances, in fact, including five mostly awful ones in his first crack at Triple-A late last year. While I tentatively had him listed in the Oklahoma City rotation when I took a guess at it back in February, even there I reiterated that “I still don’t believe he’s a starting pitcher in the big leagues, even though he’s been that in the minors.”

Finally, it seems, he might not be. The Double-A Drillers sent out the Opening Day roster, and it’s pretty hard to miss where Reed is listed:

The bullpen will include Gonzales, Tsao, Blake Smith, Chris Reed, Ralston Cash, Fabio Martinez, Mike Thomas, Ben Rowen and Jeremy Horst.

It’s a move that’s overdue, probably, but Reed isn’t 25 until next month, so no harm in trying, I suppose. In parts of four seasons as a starter, he never missed enough bats to overcome control issues, and he never really showed that he could work deep into games, either. After all, pretty much every preseason prospect report mentioned “probably a reliever, you guys.”

From Kiley McDaniel at FanGraphs, a month ago:

Reed also has pedigree as a first rounder out of Stanford in 2011 where he was a reliever, but the Dodgers drafted him to develop him as a starter. While the stuff is there, four years later it looks like Reed’s best fit is in relief and that may happen at some point in 2015. As a starter, Reed sits 91-94 and hits 96 mph with an above average slider but a changeup and command that are often below average.

In relief, scouts think he’s sit 93-96 mph and his slider may play up to plus, so the upside is there to try it and you’d think it would’ve happened last year with the Dodgers bullpen imploding.  The 6’4/195 lefty will get a big league look at some point this year, almost definitely in relief, and if he has some success, he may stick in the big league bullpen for awhile.

Dustin, right here:

At best, Reed is a back-of-the rotation starter or late-inning lefty who can get righties out. Realistically, he’s a middle reliever who is seen more as a LOOGY. He won’t remain in the rotation because of durability issues and lack of even a fringe-average third pitch.

BP2015:

A move back to the bullpen is likely sooner rather than later, which would be best for all parties involved.

And so on. We’ve seen failed starters go to the bullpen and find themselves with improved velocity and the ability to drop a poor secondary pitch — hi, Chris Withrow! — so there’s still hope for Reed, or at least more now than there was when we still thought he’d be a starter. It’d be nice, though, if he could contribute something. Between Clayton Kershaw (2006) and what we hope will be great things from Corey Seager (2012), Dodger first round picks have been pretty disappointing. Looking at James Adkins & Withrow (2007), Ethan Martin (2008), Aaron Miller (2009), Zach Lee (2010), Jesmuel Valentin & Reed (2011), the grand total of contributions are just a few good months from Withrow.

Then again, that Kershaw guy is pretty good. We all think Seager will be too. Maybe we shouldn’t be greedy. Maybe we should be happy that Reed is finally in the spot we’ve long wanted him to be, and hopefully now in a better position to succeed.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.