When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Tanner Rainey they first had the idea to put him into the rotation. That lasted for 2015 and most of 2016, but in August of that season he moved to the bullpen and found all kinds of success. In 2017 the transition to reliever was complete as the right hander spent the entire season coming out of the bullpen.
To say that April got out to a good start for Tanner Rainey would be the understatement of the year. In his first six appearances for the Daytona Tortugas he threw 8.0 innings where the only base runner that reached came on an error. He walked no one, allowed no hits, and struck out 18 of the 25 batters he faced. On the 20th he finally allowed a hit, and even gave up a run, but closed out the month with a solid final ten days. He would pitch often, making 11 appearances over 24 days. Still, he dominated the Florida State League with a 1.50 ERA, one walk and 20 strikeouts in 12.0 innings.
May began with things going in the same direction for Tanner Rainey. Over the first half of the month he allowed just one run in 8.2 innings. That came with 16 more strikeouts and just two walks. The only hit he allowed was a solo home run. It was the second half of the month that saw things start to go south. In four games he allowed seven runs in 2.1 innings with five walks and just two strikeouts. That late stretch led to an ERA of 6.55 in 11.0 innings with seven walks and 18 strikeouts over 10 games.
The struggles kept going for Tanner Rainey for most of June. The 23-year-old right hander made just seven appearances on the month for Daytona. He allowed at least one run in five of those games, and walked eight batters in 9.0 innings. That did come with 15 strikeouts, but led to an ERA of 7.00.
After a month-and-a-half of struggles, July saw things turn around for Tanner Rainey. Over the first half of the month he allowed just one run on two hits in 7.0 innings with 13 strikeouts. The second half wasn’t quite as good, but was still a strong showing. In six games he allowed two earned in 7.0 innings with two walks and 12 more strikeouts. The last outing of that stretch came for Pensacola after he earned a promotion late in the month.
In the first two weeks of August things were solid, but inconsistent for Tanner Rainey in Pensacola. He allowed just on earned run, but did walk five batters in five outings over 6.1 innings. That came with 11 strikeouts, but he also hit two batters in that stretch, too. On the 17th the righty allowed a solo home run against Mississippi. It was the last run he would allow on the season. Over the next seven games and 8.2 innings Rainey allowed just one hit and struck out 14 batters with five walks. In the final five weeks of the regular season he posted a 1.13 ERA in 16.0 innings. Control was a problem as he walked 11 batters and hit two more. But, he missed plenty of bats, striking out 26.
For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Tanner Rainey Scouting Report
Fastball | A plus to plus-plus offering depending on how much you want to ding the pitch for his control of it. The fastball works in the mid-to-upper-90’s and can hit triple digits.
Slider | Another pitch with the potential to be a plus or plus-plus offering. It’s not currently there, it’s an above-average pitch in it’s current form. But, every so often it will be plus and will even flash plus-plus. It works in the 87-91 MPH range with good biting action.
When looking at the raw stuff, Tanner Rainey looks like a future closer. The big thing holding him back from that right now is his control. He walked 13% of the batters he faced in 2017, which is a bit higher than you’d like to see – even from a reliever. That rate jumped up to 16% in limited action with Pensacola. Ideally you would like to see the rate at, or below 10%. Without improvements in the walk rate, Rainey profiles more as a 6th or 7th inning reliever. But if he can make strides in the strikezone the sky is the limit at the back end of the bullpen.