The Case for Keeping Anthony Reyes

The Case for Keeping Anthony Reyes

Once the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospect, Anthony Reyes is coming off a season he would like to forget. Dustin Mattison revisits the rumored decision by the organization to trade the still-talented righty.

The St. Louis Cardinals' Anthony Reyes was once the most highly-regarded prospect in their system.  Making his debut in 2005, Reyes picked up a win in his first big league game, going 6.1 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

During the 2006 season, Reyes made quite a few trips between St. Louis and Memphis.  He gave Cardinals fans a number of reasons to expect big things were sure to come with two brilliant performances in particular.  In his seventh career game, Reyes went out and held the defending World Champion Chicago White Sox to only one hit in an eight-inning complete game.  Unfortunately, the only hit was a solo home run and the Sox won the game, 1 to 0. 

 

With his staff spent after a hard-fought National League Championship Series, manager Tony La Russa called on Reyes to start the first game of the World Series.  The right-hander was better than anyone could have expected, allowing the Detroit Tigers only two runs in eight innings of work.  At one point, Reyes retired 17 hitters in a row.

 

After those flashes of brilliance, 2007 was not what most Cardinal fans expected.  Reyes struggled and finished the year with a 2-14 record and an ERA over six.  After his struggles, Reyes doesn't seem to be in the Cardinals' 2008 plans.  To me, that is a mistake. 

 

The Cardinals went into the off-season hoping to land two pitchers to put alongside Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro and Braden Looper while Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder recover from injuries.  With a shallow free agent pool and the bounty for a quality starting pitcher on the rise, Anthony Reyes' value may be better than any pitcher available. 

 

Going into the 2008 season, Anthony Reyes has logged 206 big league innings. Let's take a look at how Reyes compares to some of the free agent pitchers available as well as some of the other up-and-coming pitchers around baseball during their first 200 or so big league innings. 

 

 

Ghost of Pitchers Past  

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Dan Haren

206

4.55

211

142

70

10-17

 

The former Cardinal Dan Haren was recently traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for six prospects. Through the same amount of innings at the start of their careers, Haren has an ERA of almost a run better but has only two more wins.  Reyes has better hit numbers as well as strikeout totals.  I thought the difference might have been the walks but it breaks down to only a half-walk difference over nine innings. 

 

 

The Highest Dollar Pitcher Left 

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Kyle Lohse

201

5.19

225

135

72

13-12

 

Kyle Lohse is the free agent pitcher remaining on the market looking for the biggest contract.  Lohse does have a record of one game above .500 and a slightly less ERA, but Reyes is superior in the hits allowed department.  Would you rather have Reyes at near the minimum or Lohse for four years and close to $40 million? 

 

 

Kris Benson and Josh Towers

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Kris Benson

203

4.04

191

145

85

11-15

Josh Towers

206

5.01

246

91

25

13-14

 

These are two names that have been linked to the Cardinals in recent weeks.  Benson's ERA of just over four is impressive but it was several injuries ago.  Towers' posting only 25 walks is a sign of his great control but 91 strikeouts leaves quite a bit to be desired. 

 

 

The Best Lefty on the Market (not named Johan)

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Erik Bedard

205

3.74

204

181

87

11-11

 

Bedard is said to be available but at what cost?  For the Cardinals it is believed that highly-regarded Colby Rasmus is the starting point.  Bedard's numbers are impressive especially considering they were posted in the highly-competitive American League East.

 

 

Three New Multi-Millionaires

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Jeremy Bonderman

204

5.15

230

125

89

9-21

Bronson Arroyo

204

5.51

227

140

78

9-14

Aaron Harang

205

5.00

227

145

84

14-11

 

In December of 2006, Bonderman signed a four year/$38 million deal.  During February 2007, the Reds gave Arroyo a two year/$25 million extension while Harang signed a four year/$36.5 million deal.  Of the three, Bonderman is the pitcher that reminds me most of Reyes.  Both can be dominant at times while both seem to hit a stretch where they loses their focus and that usually leads to a big inning. 

 

 

The Cy Young Award Winner

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Jake Peavy

205

4.16

203

172

76

14-12

 

Peavy's ERA is more than a run better and his record is 6.5 games better. 

 

 

The Two Jeffs

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Jeff Weaver

201

5.37

210

134

65

9-16

Jeff Suppan

205

5.96

252

126

67

10-10

 

Both Jeff Weaver and Jeff Suppan were instrumental in the Cardinals 2006 World Series victory.  Reyes compares very favorably to both. Suppan was able to land a four-year/$40 million contract last off-season which is amazing considering his less than super start to his career. 

 

 

Here is how it looks when they are all lumped together:

 

Pitcher

Innings

ERA

Hits

Ks

Walks

Record

Anthony Reyes

206

5.42

198

158

81

8-23

Dan Haren

206

4.55

211

142

70

10-17

Kris Benson

203

4.04

191

145

85

11-15

Josh Towers

206

5.01

246

91

25

13-14

Erik Bedard

205

3.74

204

181

87

11-11

Jeremy Bonderman

204

5.15

230

125

89

9-21

Bronson Arroyo

204

5.51

227

140

78

9-14

Aaron Harang

205

5.00

227

145

84

14-11

Jake Peavy

205

4.16

203

172

76

14-12

Jeff Weaver

201

5.37

210

134

65

9-16

Jeff Suppan

205

5.96

252

126

67

10-10

 

Bedard's numbers stand out but no one else is really head and shoulders above the rest. 

 

When looking at Reyes splits, there are a few stats that really stand out.

 

Looking at the numbers, Reyes didn't seem ready to pitch when the game started.  During the first inning, Reyes allowed a line of .313/.402/.542 while allowing four home runs and 10 walks.  In his 20 starts, he allowed 21 runs, meaning he and the Cardinals were usually in a hole before some fans had made it to their seats.  He did post his best strikeout totals in the opening frame, 22 of 74 total strikeouts or 30%.  Something to note, Reyes did not record a single double play in the opening frame. 

 

The 26-year-old was a little better in the second, allowing an average of .232/.309/.493 with three home runs and nine walks.  In the third, he seemed to gain better control, only five walks, but hitters knocked him around at a rate of .304/.356/.468.

 

By the fourth, Reyes seemed to settle in.  Hitters were left with a line of only .197/.264/.439, but by this time the Cardinals were usually looking up at the opposition.  He stayed stingy in the fifth and the sixth; it is just he had labored so much in the first three innings he usually didn't see the seventh.  Maybe that was a good thing.

 

In three appearances in the seventh inning, batters ripped Reyes for a line of .364/.462/.455. 

 

The University of Southern California product struggled with one of the fundamentals pitchers learn in their first Little League practice; get ahead in the count.  When the count was 0-1 hitters posted a line of .263/.275/.421; when it was 0-2, the opposition hit only .146/.146/.200.  Unfortunately, he didn't get ahead in the count very often.   When the count was 1-0, hitters slapped him around for an average of .448/.484/.759. 

 

The former Trojan was much better from the wind-up compared to the stretch.  With no runners on base, Reyes allowed hitters a line of .215/.296/.346.  The right-hander really struggled with runners in scoring position, to the tune of .337.405/.694.  It got really ugly with the bases loaded, as Reyes was bombed for a line of .500/.500/.1.400 while allowing 18 runs in 12 plate appearances. 

 

As you can see, the numbers show that he is comparable to a number of successful pitchers as well as some pitchers available on the free agent market who will command multi-million dollar contracts.  With a few adjustments such as getting ahead in the count, inducing more double plays (he recorded only six all season), and being more prepared early in the game, Reyes is still capable of being a successful big league pitcher. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

© 2007 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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