Many were confused by the placing of Robert Stephenson into the bullpen when the year began. There were many reasons for it – he had never relieved before, he hadn’t had a ton of success in Triple-A, how would he continue to get enough innings to be a starter later in the year (which the team said they were still planning on using him as)? Earlier this season Cincinnati Reds Manager Dick Williams stated that at some point if Stephenson weren’t getting enough innings, or pitching often enough, that he would need to make the move to send him to Triple-A in order to get him those needed innings.

On Monday, Robert Stephenson entered a game for the first time in over a week. He entered the game with a 6.35 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched. He had been pitching well over his last five games, posting a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched with just three walks and eight strikeouts. After the long layoff, things did not go well for the right hander. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in 2.0 innings to go along with a walk and two home runs. That pushed his ERA on the season up to 8.03.

Is it time for a change with Robert Stephenson?

We are dealing with a small sample size of just 13 appearances this season, but yesterday was the 4th time of the year that Robert Stephenson has gone at least six days between making an appearance. He’s made eight appearances on less than five days of rest between outings. Let’s take a look at the difference at the splits between more than five days of rests and less than five days of rest for Robert Stephenson with the Reds this season:

Rest IP H BB K HR ERA Strike%
Sub 5 days 15.0 14 6 19 4 4.20 64%
5+ days 9.2 19 10 8 3 13.96 56%

Now, we are certainly working with a very small sample size here, but the information at hand suggests something very different is happening when he goes out there with normal reliever usage versus when he doesn’t pitch for nearly a week between outings. It could be entirely coincidental, but maybe it’s time that Dick Williams steps in and makes the move to get Robert Stephenson more consistent work. Whether that’s sending the right hander back to Triple-A to work in the rotation, or to talk Bryan Price and get him more consistent work to see if that will help his numbers.