There was some big news out of spring training earlier today when the Cincinnati Reds said that Tony Cingrani would be heading to the bullpen. That alone is an interesting move. In his career as a starter, Cingrani has a 3.50 ERA in 157.0 innings pitcher with 167 strikeouts and 67 walks. Those are strong numbers. He did however struggle in 2014, though it turns out he was injured and wound up missing plenty of time. He seems healthy now, but the team is looking to use him out of the bullpen rather than the rotation. I have no doubt that Cingrani can be very successful in that role. The concerns come with the comments that followed from Bryan Price on who could be taking the spot in the rotation left by Cingrani:

The thing is, when we have veteran guys like Marquis and Maholm, you’re not going to use them for one start,” Price said. “If they’re going to be on our team, the hope is that they’re on our team for an entire season, if not longer. And that’s how we have to look at that. … You can back-and-forth a young guy. You can start a game or two and then go down to the Minor Leagues or go to the bullpen and help us as a long guy. So Marquis and Maholm are looking more like long-term, start-to-finish options for us.

Jason Marquis is having a good spring, but it’s still just spring training. He hasn’t had an above-league-average ERA since 2009 and last summer he was topping out with his fastball in the mid-80’s. He was coming off an arm injury, and maybe he’s throwing harder now, but it’s been a long time since he’s been even league average (over the last five years he hasn’t even been remotely close to league average) and he’s now 36-years-old.

Paul Maholm is only going to be 33-years-old this year, but it’s been two years since he was an average or better starter and last year he spent his time in the Dodgers bullpen where he struggled mightily, walking 28 batters with just 34 strikeouts in 70.2 innings. Maholm has two strikeouts this spring and he’s faced 26 batters. That doesn’t bode well for success.

If either of these guys are making more than a spot start or three for the Cincinnati Reds it’s very likely going to be a rough season. There’s a reason that both of them were easily available on minor league contracts this past offseason.

The other options would seem to be Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani. It would appear that DeSclafani has a spot locked up and that at least for now, Iglesias will be starting in place of Homer Bailey. Where things get tough is where Price says that the younger guys can be moved back-and-forth and they won’t do that with veterans. Neither Iglesias or DeSclafani are proven, and there’s some uncertainty with each of those guys. There’s also a whole lot of upside with those guys too though.

It would seem strange to go with a very likely, well below-average starter than an unproven, but possibly high upside starter, especially if you are going to instead use one of those high upside starters in the bullpen. Go with the big arms and hope for the best. Don’t go with lesser arms with far lesser stuff simply because they are veterans and had a solid March. There’s a long history showing you exactly who those guys are and it’s not looking good. Expecting guys in their 30’s to find something they haven’t shown in years is never a good bet in sports. Father Time is undefeated.

Michael Lorenzen is still in camp, but it does not seem that he is in contention for a spot in the rotation at this point for some reason. Lorenzen seems like he may have a spot in the bullpen and John Fay believes he’s pretty much got one locked up.

44 Responses

  1. Jimmer

    This is almost unbelievable. Just plain crazy thinking.

    Loud Noises!!!!

  2. B-town Fan

    I have to agree, if Maholm and Marquis are going to be counted on as regular starters, than it’s going to be a long season. I just thought they were depth trow ins when they were signed. Not good.

    • earmbrister

      If read closely, it’s not all that alarming.

      He said “IF they’re going to be on our team, the HOPE is that they’re on the team for the entire season …” He goes on to say “so Marquis and Maholm are looking long-term, start to finish OPTIONS for us.”

      I don’t read that to mean that both will in the rotation this year. Nor do I read that to mean that if one of them sticks in the rotation they’ll be there the whole season. Rather, I take that to mean that neither will be used as the short term fill in for Bailey.

      Long term, if say Marquis starts the year as the 5th starter and Lorenzen or Iglesias are pitching better than him and can be added mid season, while limiting their innings early, it will be a done deal. That’s why Lotenzen and Iglesias will be strongly considered for the bullpen early: it limits their innings.

  3. Foxbud

    I have really become less and less of a Price fan with every utterance. I have no problem with Cingrani going to the pen. But this team will not succeed if Maholm and Marquis are starting all year. You can keep one around and go with Cueto, Leake, Bailey, Desclafani. Gradually giving away to Iglesius to help control his innings. I’d buy that.

    Also, Lorenzen is not making this team as he is not on the 40 man roster. If they put Marquis, Maholm and Boesch on the roster, that is three slots they would have to open up. If JB goes to the 60 day, that is two slots. I do not see how they make room for another.

    Also, I think Moscot was reassigned today to minor league camp. Thought I read that somewhere today.

    • Doug Gray

      Moscot was among those re-assigned today. I missed that with the Cingrani news burying everything.

  4. Jack

    The Reds signed a ton of pitchers this off season with prior pro/AAA experience. I count 20 pitchers that look like they’re AAA level. Do guys that ended last season in AA get moved down or are we going to cut 6-8 of these newly signed pitchers?

    • Doug Gray

      Some guys will get released, some will wind up in AA, some in AAA. Some of the AA guys will move up. Some will repeat.

      • Jack

        So even with all of the new signings you still think it will even out rather than AA guys starting in A+ Daytona?

      • Doug Gray

        Generally speaking, if the team thinks a prospect is ready to move up, they will move them up. If it’s a true prospect they believe in, there’s no way they are held back for a veteran filler type.

  5. Shaun

    I think the Reds will choose between Marquis and Mahlom for the rotation. The runner up gets released. It seems like it’s a little early in spring training to make this call. Maybe the Reds feel like they have enough depth in case their plan A falls apart.

  6. Gaffer

    That quote on Marques and Maholom is shear lunacy. Not only is it factually innacurate, but has Dustism written all over it. Blahhhhh! Congrani in the pen is the right call, but what is this veterans need to play BS!

    I also think Lorenzen in the pen is stupid. Are they cutting Lecure? Is a few innings in April worth the loss of a player on the 40 and putting him back as a starter?

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, there is a whole lot of “I don’t understand this, at all” going on this spring.

  7. The Duke

    I almost wonder if they are just blowing smoke for some reason. Price knows too much about pitching to spout this much nonsense.

    • Doug Gray

      You aren’t the first person I’ve seen to speculate this. One guy said that the quote is actually being used to set up a reason as to why neither guy will make the roster, because they aren’t going to be the guys to pitch all year. I don’t know. I just know that from what he said, he sure sounds like he is saying that at least one of them will be around all season long. And that just doesn’t sound like something a person with so much pitching knowledge would say.

    • Tom Gray

      Price knows pitching better than most managers and even better than some who post here.

      Cueto, Leake, Desclafani, Marquis or Maholm, and Iglesias until Bailey is ready. Later in the year, maybe Iglesias is ready to replace M or M in the rotation.

      The Reds waited two years on Gary Nolan in 1973 and 1974. Why not let Cingrani get all the way better, too?

  8. Dale Pearl

    if Maholm and Marquis are going to be starters it is a sure sign that the Reds are conceding not being a playoff team this year. I have already conceded that so at least I know now that the Reds aren’t going to do something stupid before the trading deadline. Impossible to win more than say 85 games with Cueto, Leake, Maholm, Marquis, and Defscani being our starting 5.

    Hopefully the Reds move Cueto and Leake from this time until the end of the trading deadline and we get to see our young guys starting and Maholm and Marquis are just cannon fodder for a possible minor league pick or two if it turns out that they have a decent season like Alfredo Simon.

  9. DaveCT

    Certainly a challenge to de-cipher. My take:
    Bailey, with Iglesias covering short term
    DeScalfani, with a pretty long leash
    Marquis, until he proves he can’t; with Maholm, Iglesias or Cingrani subbing in.

    Maholm, in the Simon role
    Diaz, Gregg or whoever makes it, or Iglesias building innings
    Cingrani, still building back strength and/or a third pitch
    Parra, if healthy; Diaz if not

  10. JT

    Badenhop did not get off to a good start. Do you think he still makes the Reds opening day roster?

    • The Duke

      Spring training stats have long been worthless as predictive for the regular season. Badenhop not only makes the team, he’s likely the setup man or the 7th inning guy.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think that Badenhop is playing for a job this spring. He’s on the team unless he gets hurt.

  11. IndyRedsFan

    I think you’re reading too much in to Price’s comments. When I read it, my interpretation was that he was just saying you can’t send M or M back and forth to the minors like you can a younger guy with options remaining. So, that if one or both make the team, then you have to plan to have them on the team from start (of the year) to the finish.

    I expect that they’re hoping one of the two can show enough to be the 5th starter ….at least until they reach the point in the season when they can put Iglesias in the rotation full time.

    Recall that early in the Spring, Price said he was hoping Iglesias could fill the “Simon role”. I expect Iglesias will cover Bailey’s starts in April, move to the Simon role until about mid-July, and then replace whichever of Maholm/Marquis that has been in the 5th rotation spot. I believe only one of those 2 will make the club, with the other being released or parked at L’ville as insurance.

    • earmbrister

      Indy, you’ve got it right (as well as a few others). Who cares what Price says, particularly if those comments are taken out of context. Besides, those comments could be made to motivate certain players, or as a smokescreen to other orgs.

      At the end of the day, there’s only 5 spots in the rotation. There’s no room for both Marquis and Malhom. Cueto, Bailey, Leake, and Disco will be there from late April on, so this is much ado about nothing. A guy like Marquis can hold down the fort as the 5th starter, until Iglesias, Lorenzen, Stephenson, etal are ready. The Reds have certainly had worse 5th starters than Jason Marquis.

      • Doug Gray

        The Reds have had worse 5th starters than Marquis, but they also lost 90+ games those seasons. That shouldn’t be what the team is shooting for. Using either of those guys, even for two months, is probably not going to work out well at all. Both guys have proven that they are well below-average big league starters. They can’t hold down the fort, so to speak, unless they just get a whole bunch of run support and the offense basically carries them, which is something they’d also do with whoever happened to be starting that day.

    • Doug Gray

      If Maholm or Marquis are in the rotation until mid-July, it’s going to be a long season.

  12. lollipopcurve

    I’ll take Bryan Price’s viewpoint when it comes to pitching in the big leagues. You can question all you want — but you should include questioning whether there might be some gaps in your knowledge or some built-in biases that mold and limit your understanding. Just sayin’

    • Kevin

      This is what I like to refer to as the “3 dimensional chess” defense. It’s invoked a lot in situations like these. X is playing 17 moves ahead of everyone else, so what he said or did that may sound or look dumb, is in actuality brilliant, but our primitive minds just can’t even comprehend it’s sheer genius yet.

      But it’s very rarely true. Usually the dumbness is just straight dumbness.

      God I hope Price is playing 3 dimensional chess.

    • Doug Gray

      I usually trust Bryan Price when it comes to pitching. He’s been right pretty much every time so far. Still, there is absolutely nothing inspiring at all with Maholm or Marquis. They are replacement level pitchers at best and history shows us that. Even the best get it wrong some times. I don’t have any biases here. I want the Reds to be good. If that means it’s a minor leaguer doing the job or someone else, that doesn’t matter. I just can’t see the 30-somethings being enough to get the job done based on their history of not getting the job done. I’ll side with the potential to be good while also being unknown over taking the known not-so-good.

  13. jim t

    The reds have a bunch of Young high end pitching talent. The issue with the group is they all need either more innings or stretching out. Walt and Price have a very difficult task in trying to balance contending this year and building for the future.
    I would really perfer Lorenzen Go to AAA and get in 150 innings as a starter this year. That would allow him to reasonably throw 180 in 2016. Same thing for Iglesious.

    The problem they’re having in my mind is roster and trying to contend this year. Quite a juggling act. . With Bailey’s return date up in the air the need to carry Maholm or Marquis for the 5th spot may be a must. Sending the youngsters to AAA would allow them to control innings. The issue with that is they are the best arms. Barring injury Iglesious,Bailey,Stephenson and Lorenzen will make up 4/5 of 2016 rotation. DeScalfani will be in the mix as well. To start this year I think we will see Leake, DeScalfani,Marquis,Maholm and JC. When Bailey returns the least effective one out of M and M and DeScalfani will be either placed in bull pen or optioned or released.

  14. theRickDelux

    If the Reds flounder this year it won’t be because of the pitching. The hitting, or lack of hitting, is more concerning. I know Spring Training is too early to analyze things but I also don’t like what I see from a fundamental perspective – defense and running the bases.

  15. jbonireland

    One factor I have not seen anyone elude to is it really is Price’s decision. He has a lot of input but Walt makes the final call and Walt likes his veterans. This pitching staff may not sort itself out until June and by then it may be to late ergo the trading of Cueto or Leake in July.

    Let’s hope things go better than we all anticipate.

  16. B-town Fan

    Another interesting angle to this story is Cingrani him self. He was very upset with the news. John Fay reported he only said three words when Fay asked him about it. It’s a very peculiar situation when Cingrani who really needs to develop his breaking ball and change up to be an effective lefty starter and is more suited for the bullpen right now but who wants to really be a starter. Then there’s Chapman who has the breaking ball and change up to be a starter, even a front line lefty one at that, Kershaw type talent, with the money potential that entails, does not even want to be one. Very strange.

  17. Gary Yarco

    He has also talked about a surprise to come in and win 14 games.

    Welcome Reds starter Michael Lorenzen. Not unprecidented as Leake did the same thing, starting right out of college.

    Lorenzen looks like the 3rd best starter on the big club right now. Pitch him 140 innings as a starter, then send him to the pen for the post season. By that time Stephenson should be ready to ascend to his spot in the starting rotation.

    Iglasias needs innings. start him for Homer, move him down to AAA for a few months and a bunch of starts and make sure he is back for August/Sept in the pen.

    Those are 3 Quality arms to be added to the big team throughout this year.

    all are starters in 2016 now with Cingrani in the pen.

    next year it will be Homer and the 4 kids, and these kids will be alright

    • Doug Gray

      How do you get to the point of Lorenzen only throwing 140 innings through a full season though if you put him in the big leagues? He would need to make roughly 30 starts. That’s less than 5 innings a start.

      • Gary Yarco

        I start him for 20 games then move him to the pen.

        I bring Stephenson in for the last 10 starts

      • Earmbrister

        You start him in the pen, then stretch him out for the rotation.

        And you have him in Cincy all year long.

      • Doug Gray

        Earmbrister, how do you stretch him out without sending him to the minor leagues for a month to do so?

      • Earmbrister

        Seems like it’s not an impossible feat. Take the Yankees:

        In all likelihood though, the Yankees will need more than five starting pitchers this season. Assistant general manager Billy Eppler confirmed in a call with Chad Jennings that Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers have been asked to prepare as starting pitchers heading into spring training. Both players are likely to open the season in the bullpen, barring injuries to the current starting five, but Eppler did say the Yankees would keep an open mind about either pitcher possibly earning a rotation spot even if everyone remains health

      • Doug Gray

        It’s impossible without sending them to the minors. You can’t just be like “hey, we know you’ve only thrown one inning at a time all season long, but we need you to start going five-to-seven from here on”, it doesn’t work that way. No team would do that. They’d work a guy up and build his innings. A spot start is one thing. Asking a guy to do it every five days after spending the a month or two in the bullpen is another thing.

  18. DaveCT

    I think Jockety is more traditional than that. For instance, even when Baker advocated for starting a young arm
    in the pen for a year then moving him to the rotation, you’d see the club mostly keep young guys in the minors to work on their game. The exception of Leake was a guy who had pitched several years of college ball and had a foundation of innings.

    Lorenzen and Iglesias clearly don’t have that foundation yet. So the question is where do they achieve it best. I’d say Lorenzen needs to reach another innings plateau in AAA and may be able to help in the ML pen later in the season. Iglesias on the other hand has farther to go, so any starting he does will be very limited. I believe his use will be much more flexible, hopefully getting at least 80-100 innings this year, preferably 120.

  19. Adam

    Here is my take. I feel the Reds are taking the adaption from the Royals’ success. Herrera/Davis/Holland ~ Cingrani/Lorenzen/Chapman

    • Doug Gray

      You have to be able to hand leads to the bullpen. Maholm and Marquis aren’t going to be able to do that.

      • JMO

        No, but Cueto, Bailey, Leake, DeSclafani and Iglesias can.

        Chapman, Lorenzen, Cingrani, Badenhop, Jumbo, Parra, LeCure

      • Doug Gray

        I sure hope that’s what the rotation will look like and agree, that they give the Reds a whole lot more than having one or both of the veteran M’s in the rotation, JMO.