Last night the Cincinnati Reds handed the ball to Connor Phillips for the first pitch against the Seattle Mariners. Normally a guy is going to be nervous enough while making their big league debut. For Phillips there may have been some extra nerves because his debut was also coming against the team that drafted him and that he spent the first year of his career with before trading him away to Cincinnati in the spring of 2022.

Phillips has been good, even dominant at times since joining the Reds organization. Since coming over in the trade he had thrown 214.2 innings with a 3.82 ERA on the farm. He also racked up 304 strikeouts while walking 123 batters.

In his debut last night at Great American Ball Park you got to see a mix  of those same kinds of things. Phillips struck out seven batters. And he walked two in 4.2 innings. He wound up giving up five runs and part of that came down to control. While there were just two walks in those 4.2 innings, he gave up two home runs that accounted for all five runs.

The first home run was on a fastball that was called for on the inside corner, thigh high. The pitch got to the plate near the bottom of the zone and right over the middle of the zone. That was the 2-run homer in the 1st inning. In the 5th inning there was another home run. This time the call was for a fastball in the upper inside corner of the zone. The location of the pitch was middle-middle at 96 MPH and Julio Rodriguez didn’t miss it, clobbering a 3-run homer.

That’s not to say that those were the only “misses” he had all evening. They weren’t. But that’s one thing about the big leagues – guys don’t let you get away with the misses as often.

Those were the downsides of his start. But there were plenty of good things from the outing, too. Phillips picked up seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings. He has 12 swings-and-misses. His fastball got four of them while his slider had seven, and he picked up one more on his curveball.

Phillips averaged 96.8 MPH with his fastball on the night and he topped out at 98.9. Even in today’s age when everyone (well, almost everyone) throws hard, Phillips was throwing quite hard. But he wasn’t just throwing the fastball hard, he averaged 2407 RPM on the pitch. Phillips only has one start to look at in the big leagues, but if we compare that to all pitchers with at least 1000 pitches thrown this season, his 2407 RPM rate would rank 31st of the 188 pitchers. High spin with high velocity? That tends to be a pretty good combination.

That’s not something new, though. We knew that Phillips had that. We also knew that his slider was his best offering and it played that way in his debut, too. He threw 20 of them on the night, got swings on 10 of them, and seven of those swings resulted in no contact. Another one was called for a strike.

Phillips mixed in his change up about once an inning. He threw four of them. Only one of them was a strike (and it was a called strike). That also isn’t surprising. We knew that he didn’t throw the change up much, and that it’s his worst pitch. It’s something that he’ll need to continue to work on.

The two home runs allowed really hurt him. Most of the time you’re not going to have a good line in a start in which you give up two homers. That’s what happened on Tuesday. Outside of those homers, though, Phillips looked good for the most part. He missed bats, his control was solid – though not spectacular.

With the rotation up in the air for Cincinnati with injuries and sickness, we don’t really know if Connor Phillips is going to get another start this season or not – at least in the big leagues. If that’s the case, it probably won’t be long until he’s back in the big leagues next year. He’s got the stuff to pitch well in the big leagues. We saw some of this in Triple-A this year, but he’s just got to find a way to be a little more consistent with his ability to locate it.

12 Responses

  1. RedsGettingBetter

    I like that I saw overall about Phillips outing… I think if he continues working on command issues and fix them, He likely will in the Reds rotation by 2024…


    I remember one year when Latos, Ceuto and company had great health and always took the ball every 5 days. Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft miss time every season. Phillips and Abbott have been healthy all season at least.
    Could be a potential WS team for at least the next 4 years if they can keep the pitching staff healthy, and if they are healthy all have shown to be above average pitchers to this point except Phillips, who has only 1 mlb start.

    • Greenfield Red

      How many does it take to use the term “every”? Greene, Ludolo, and Ashcraft are all in there 2nd year with the Reds Too small of a sample size to say they miss every year imo.

      • MK

        As long as young men are being judged by velocity and spin rate as an end all to success then there are going to be more injuries than in the past. There is just a limit to what the human arm from back, to shoulder, to elbow can endure. they are very close to that point now and injuries are going to happen to those pressing those limits.

  3. Optimist

    Unless they’re concerned about pitch or innings limits, he should be in the rotation from here on out. That was the toughest team remaining on the schedule, no need to rush anyone of the IL, and the AAAA types aren’t any better and may be worse. Even go to a 6-man rotation to lessen the workload of Abbott, Ashcraft, and Williamson.

    If the make the playoffs, everyone gets rested going in. If they don’t, nobody gets burnt in a vain effort.

    One of these guys needs to be the long reliever next season – no more 1 inning at a time/6 pitchers per game, and no to a season long 6-man rotation. Need 5 guys throwing 125-150 innings a piece.

    • MBS

      @Optimist, I don’t think we have the depth to justify a 6 man rotation. Lodolo is a huge injury concern. I’d probably look to move him to a setup man role in the pen.

      That leaves us with 4 starters Greene, Ashcraft, Abbott, and Williamson. I hope they go out, and sign a legit FA like Yamamoto, or Snell to lead the rotation. Then they could bring up Phillips, Richardson, Gutierrez, Dunn, or Stoudt if injuries occur.

      @Wolf, I would definitely move Lively to the long man spot in the pen, I think he’d excel at it.

  4. DaveCT

    I liked several of his fastballs that were just painting the edges at 97. Impressive.

    • TJ

      Snell will be very expensive and he has a high walk rate which would not bode well for GABP. The Reds might kick the tires, but I don’t see them signing an expensive pitcher on a long term deal . Wonder what it would take to get Lance Lynn? One year deal at the right price would be great. I’m sure he’s looking to get 2-3 years.

  5. Doc

    Heck no on any big contract to any pitcher, especially in this day and age.

    I wonder how lowering the mound 8” or so after Bullet Bob’s great 1968ish year has affected arms since then. Flatter trajectory means flatter pitches. Flatter pitches means more effort to try to spin them to make them not as flat. More effort to spin means more stress on the elbow. Hence more injuries.

    Obviously there is more to it than just what happened in ‘68. It has only been about the last decade, maybe two, that pitches have gone from throwing 250-300 innings per season, and four man rotations, to studs throwing 150-180 innings per season in a five man rotation. Personally, I think they don’t throw enough. You can’t become a good weight lifter only lifting one day per week, or a great sprinter only running once every 6-7 days. That would be a set up for injury, yet only in baseball is the pattern different.