What to Expect from Reds Starting Pitcher Connor Phillips

In the thick of a tight race for a playoff spot, the Cincinnati Reds have found themselves shorthanded in the pitching department. Because of that, Cincinnati’s added several arms to their roster from the Minors, including high-prized pitching prospect Connor Phillips. Here’s a look at what Phillips has been doing in the Minor Leagues.

Related: What to Expect from Angels Infielder Kyren Paris

A Look at Phillips

The Reds acquired right-hander Connor Phillips last year, in the trade that sent Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners. The trade worked out relatively well for the Reds, as Cincinnati was able to pick up Jake Fraley, left-hander Brandon Williamson — who made his MLB debut earlier this season — and Phillips.

Originally drafted in the second round by Seattle in the 2020 MLB Draft, the 22-year-old’s been a strikeout machine in his Minor League career. Phillips struck out 150 batters over 109.2 IP last season, and punched out 154 over 105.0 innings between two levels (AA and AAA) this season.

The month of August, however, was not friendly to the young righty. After a very impressive July that saw him posted a 1.71 ERA over 21 innings, Phillips posted a 7.64 ERA in July and walked 13 batters over 17.2 innings pitched.

The right-hander owns an electric fastball that can sit in the upper-90s, along with three other pitches in a curveball, slider, and changeup. MLB.com rates the latter three as average to above-average offerings.

However, one issue that Phillips has run into is the walks.

Phillips owned a 5.4 BB/9 rate last season, and his walk rate jumped to 6.7 in Louisville this season. Those control problems have led to questions whether the young righty can stick in a starting pitch role, even though he’s got the stuff to be one.

The control question is one that another Reds starter in Williamson needed to answer, and did by and large thus far. Now, Phillips will likely get his first chance at showing the Reds that he can start at the MLB level.

Phillips was called up to the Majors along with Brett Kennedy, Carson Spiers, and veteran reliever Chasen Shreve.

What it Means for the Reds and Fantasy Outlook

The Reds are in significant need of a starter right now — and Phillips can fill a void in the interim.

Cincinnati’s rotation has been punished by injuries this season, and the Reds know they won’t get one arm back as Nick Lodolo‘s been ruled out for remainder of the season. RHP Graham Ashcraft also hit the IL again, thanks to a right big toe stress reaction.

On top of those injuries, Hunter Greene, Brandon Williamson, and Ben Lively were all placed on the COVID IL list in what’s been the first outbreak of the virus for a MLB team this season.

Another issue at play is LHP Andrew Abbott‘s workload. Manager David Bell told the media that Abbott may have his starts pushed back this month in order to address that issue.

All of these elements opened the door for Phillips to get his first taste — and possibly a look through September — of the Majors, although it remains to be seen whether he sticks with Cincinnati past these next few days. Phillips was called up on a temporary basis as a substitute player, and won’t be subject to an optional or outright assignment should the Reds demote him when Cincinnati’s arms return.

Thus, those who intend on picking up Phillips must know that he may not stick for more than one to two starts in the Majors.