Tim Adleman is the lost man when it comes to the Cincinnati Reds rotation. After the team signed Scott Feldman, after trading Dan Straily, there was just one open spot in the rotation up for grabs. Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and now Bronson Arroyo – those are the names people are talking about. Tim Adleman‘s name was mentioned months ago by Bryan Price as an option. But, that came with the caveat that it was if the young guys didn’t step forward. That’s been the extent of the talk for him as a starter.
The now 29-year-old right hander made 13 starts for the Reds last year and posted a 4.00 ERA in 69.2 innings. Tim Adleman didn’t walk many batters, 20, and he didn’t strike out many batters, 47. He didn’t keep the ball in the ballpark, either, giving up 13 home runs. He was a bit lucky in the sequencing of events to keep his ERA where it was. The advanced pitching estimators reflect that (5.30 FIP). It’s understandable why the Reds wouldn’t be ready to just hand him the job. He doesn’t have the pure stuff of the young guys, and he’s going to be a 29-year-old big leaguer with 13 games in his big league career. At this point it does seem unlikely that he’s going to grab the fifth spot in the rotation.
However, what he could still be fighting for is a spot in the bullpen. The Reds have seemingly improved things in free agency and the trade market. They added more arms to the stable to what was arguably the worst bullpen of all time in 2016. Injuries played a big role in just how bad that bullpen was, but it was undeniably terrible. Tim Adleman didn’t pitch out of the bullpen last year, but Eno Sarris of Fangraphs has up an interesting article today that suggests he may very well be a good fit. It looks at starting pitchers who had the biggest gap in production between their first time through a lineup and the third time through the lineup. Sitting in the eight spot on the list is Tim Adleman.
Remember when we noted above that he didn’t strike out many batters? Well, that’s true, he didn’t. But, the first time through the lineup he did and he actually did so at a pretty high rate. Tim Adleman struck out 24% of batters the first time through the lineup. He only struck out 11% of batters the third time through the lineup. That’s an incredible difference. It’s what led to a difference between a 3.18 FIP and a 6.51 FIP for 1st and 3rd trips through the order.
Relievers only have to face guys once in a game. While the sample size is rather limited to just 13 total games started in the big leagues for Tim Adleman, there certainly appears to be evidence that he could be a successful reliever. Whether he gets that chance out of the gate or not is unknown. Perhaps it’s a road that the organization should look at taking to see if it can lead somewhere.