The Reds are set to welcome right-hander Tyler Mahle back from the injured list this weekend, as they announced to reporters Wednesday that he’s in line to start Sunday’s game against the visiting Cardinals (Twitter link via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The team also reinstated right-hander Dauri Moreta from the Covid-related injured list and returned righty Ryan Hendrix to Triple-A Louisville.
Mahle, one of the most notable trade candidates on the summer market, hit the injured list with what was deemed a minor shoulder strain earlier this month. The 27-year-old righty said shortly thereafter that he planned to return quickly after the All-Star break, and that will indeed be the case. A Sunday return will give Mahle enough time to make two starts before the Aug. 2 trade deadline, so scouts from opposing clubs will have multiple opportunities to evaluate him on the heels of his recent shoulder issue.
Prior to landing on the injured list, Mahle was trending upward in terms of his performance. The former seventh-rounder got out to a brutal start this season but turned a corner in late May and stringing together a 2.58 ERA over a stretch of seven outings. Dating back to May 1, Mahle has a 3.86 ERA with strikeout and walk rates that fall in line with the standards he set when establishing himself as at least a quality mid-rotation hurler from 2020-21.
While Mahle doesn’t draw as much fanfare as rotation-mate Luis Castillo, he’s quietly built a nice track record at the big league level. Even including a pair of his worst-ever starts earlier this season (combined 15 runs allowed in 7 2/3 frames), Mahle has a 3.94 ERA in 320 innings dating back to the 2020 season. He’s punched out 27.5% of his opponents against an 8.9% walk rate along the way, sitting at 94 mph with his heater and brandishing a splitter and slider that have both graded out as above-average pitches at times. Lately, he’s gravitated more toward the low-spinning splitter — particularly against lefties.
It’s hard not to wonder how Mahle might fare with another club, as his hitter-friendly home park has been a thorn in his side even as he’s found success over the past three seasons. Mahle has a bloated 4.90 ERA and has yielded 1.71 homers per nine innings pitched at Great American Ball Park dating back to 2020. During that same three-year stretch, he’s notched an excellent 2.93 ERA on the road, while yielding an average of just 0.52 homers per nine innings.
Like Castillo, Mahle is controlled not only for the 2022 campaign but also through the 2023 season via arbitration. He’s being paid $5.2MM for the current season and will earn a raise on top of that figure for the 2023 season before hitting the free-agent market in advance of his age-29 campaign.