Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson
26-Year-Old PitcherRP
Cincinnati Reds
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Last year we expressed concern about the extremely negative results Stephenson had with his fastball (17.1 runs below average per Fangraphs). The Reds and Stephenson noticed those results as well, and adjusted by having him throw it less frequently, down to 36.2% from 54.3% in 2017. He replaced his fastball use with more sliders, his best pitch. Unfortunately he still had the same negative results. In 11.2 innings he managed to be -6.0 runs below average with that fastball. Command and control are both issues for him. Stephenson can't reliably throw his slider for strikes, and he can't locate his fastball in the right spot in the strike zone. Occasionally Stephenson has had good stretches at Triple-A Louisville, but even those were marred by the occasional high-walk game. New pitching coach Derrick Johnson will have his hands full to see if he can turn Stephenson around. Read Past Outlooks
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Gets second win
PCincinnati Reds
April 23, 2019
Stephenson (2-0) struck out both batters he faced Tuesday night and got the win when the Reds rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Braves.
Stephenson continues to impress. His ERA is down to 1.50 and his WHIP down to 0.67, and he has 18 strikeouts against just two walks in 12 innings so far. His velocity and his command have both improved, and his slider in particular has become a huge plus pitch.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .255 230 48 41 47 12 0 8
Since 2017vs Right .242 305 80 32 64 24 2 8
2019vs Left .214 34 8 6 6 3 0 1
2019vs Right .132 55 23 2 7 5 1 1
2018vs Left .333 31 6 7 8 3 0 2
2018vs Right .346 32 5 5 9 3 0 0
2017vs Left .250 165 34 28 33 6 0 5
2017vs Right .259 218 52 25 48 16 1 7
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2017Home 3.92 1.41 59.2 6 3 1 11.2 5.4 0.6
Since 2017Away 5.95 1.69 59.0 1 6 0 8.2 5.6 1.8
2019Home 4.66 1.24 9.2 2 0 0 14.0 6.5 0.0
2019Away 2.84 0.71 12.2 0 1 0 11.4 0.7 1.4
2018Home 10.80 3.60 1.2 0 0 0 10.8 21.6 0.0
2018Away 9.00 2.30 10.0 0 2 0 8.1 7.2 1.8
2017Home 3.54 1.37 48.1 4 3 1 10.6 4.7 0.7
2017Away 6.19 1.87 36.1 1 3 0 7.2 6.9 2.0
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Stat Review
How does Robert Stephenson compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 20 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
94.4 mph
Left On Base
Exit Velocity
90.1 mph
Spin Rate
2561 rpm
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
Swinging Strike
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Defensive Stats
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Robert Stephenson
The Z Files: Oh, What a Relief It... Isn't?
23 days ago
Todd Zola takes another look at the value of high-strikeout middle relievers, such as the Mets' Seth Lugo, in the current run-scoring environment.
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37 days ago
Scott Jenstad thinks that Brewer Mike Moustakas‘ low batting average might make him a good trade target.
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277 days ago
Chris Morgan looks over Wednesday's slate and thinks Carlos Rodon should be able to stifle the Twins.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Is Stephenson's strong finish to the 2017 season (2.50 ERA, 1.27 WHIP over 50.1 innings) real or a mirage? The 2011 first-round pick was routinely getting cuffed around at the big-league level prior to that end-run, frequently falling behind in the count and then getting punished after putting runners on. He stopped throwing his curveball, and started using his slider and changeup more often, bringing positive results. His fastball remains a big problem -- it was a whopping 17.1 runs below league average last year, albeit not quite as bad later in the season. And therein lies a problem -- it's not as if Stephenson can scrap his fastball. Maybe he can change his grip, or find a better way to improve his location, but at the end of the day, he's going to need a decent fastball to get by. The Reds owe it to themselves to see if he can do that, but you owe it to yourself to invest no more than an endgame pick to find out if he'll be successful.
Stephenson is one of the Reds' most highly-touted prospects, but the window for him to make it as a starting pitcher is closing. He can miss bats with a three pitch-mix -- highlighted by a fastball that routinely sits in the mid- to upper-90s -- but he struggles to locate with consistency. Stephenson made eight starts for the big club in 2016, seeing mixed results. His tenure with Cincinnati started well enough, as he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his first two starts in the big leagues. He was sent back to Triple-A afterward and stayed there until September, and he was far less successful upon his return. In six September starts, he only got through five innings once and amassed a 7.56 ERA and 1.88 WHIP thanks to a 5.4 BB/9 and 2.5 HR/9. Stephenson is still an intriguing arm, but if he doesn't take that next step in his development, we could see him in the Cincinnati bullpen before the end of the year.
Stephenson's start to the 2015 season at Double-A Pensacola raised a lot of concerns in Reds-land. It began in spring training, when a sore shoulder prevented him from seeing any meaningful action against big league hitters. That spilled over to the regular season, where he really struggled to throw strikes despite repeating the level. However, he made an adjustment in late May and with that came a big spike in his strikeout rate along with a semblance of control. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Louisville at the beginning of July, but missed out on a September callup to the big leagues due to a forearm strain that put him on the DL. He'll probably start 2016 back at Louisville, if for no other reason than to slow down his service time, but expect him to be up with the Reds by midseason.
Stephenson hit the Double-A wall in 2014, and the wall hit right back, giving him his worst professional season. Stephenson's command, in part defined by how he uses his stuff, was his big problem. His walk rate skyrocketed to 12.3%, and all too often he would fall behind hitters and resort to challenging them with his 97 mph fastball high in the strike zone. Shockingly enough, Double-A hitters were better equipped to handle it when they knew it was coming. The Reds seem confident that he'll adjust accordingly with another year of experience. Keep in mind that he hit Double-A as a 21-year old, and remain optimistic about him despite the down year.
After a couple of rocky starts in April, Stephenson dominated both Low-A and High-A last season before landing in Double-A Pensacola to finish the year. The Reds took a slow approach to developing him after making him their first-round pick out of high school in the 2011 draft, and it is starting to pay dividends, as most prospect lists out there have him leapfrogging Billy Hamilton as the Reds' top prospect. His fastball has been clocked as fast as 101 mph (albeit on scoreboard radars, which are notoriously fast) and he typically works in the 96-98 mph range. A hamstring injury limited his innings last year, which isn't all bad given that he was just 20 years old. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him spend most of the year in Double-A, but a 2015 major league debut seems likely.
The Reds' first-round pick in 2011, Stephenson made his professional debut last season and impressed at two levels, striking out a combined 72 batters in 65 innings. The Reds will probably take a deliberate approach with Stephenson, though they're faced with the conundrum of going from an extreme pitcher's park at Low-A Dayton to a hitter's park at High-A Bakersfield. The Reds avoided that with Daniel Corcino, skipping him right from Dayton to Double-A Pensacola, so we'll see if they take that approach here as well.
Stephenson was the Reds' first-round pick in the 2011 June draft. A high school pitcher from California, Stephenson signed late and will make his professional debut in 2012. He's a big right-hander who throws in the mid-90s. The Reds tend to move their high school draftees along slowly, so Stephenson may not even make it to Low-A Dayton this season, barring a stretch of dominance in rookie ball.
More Fantasy News
Gets win Thursday
PCincinnati Reds
April 12, 2019
Stephenson pitched a scoreless inning in relief of the injured Sonny Gray on Thursday and got the win.
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Earns place on roster
PCincinnati Reds
March 26, 2019
The Reds informed Stephenson on Tuesday that he would be included on the Opening Day roster, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
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Struggles in loss
PCincinnati Reds
March 25, 2019
Stephenson allowed two runs on two hits and a walk over two innings Monday against the Braves, Ben Weinrib of reports.
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Makes spring debut
PCincinnati Reds
March 19, 2019
Stephenson (shoulder) made his spring training debut Tuesday night, throwing a scoreless inning against the White Sox.
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Throws 15 pitches Friday
PCincinnati Reds
March 16, 2019
Stephenson (shoulder) threw 11 of 15 pitches for strikes in a "B" game Friday against the Indians. Afterward manager David Bell called the outing a great sign, Anthony Castrovince of reports.
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