Baker relieves Marshall during as an outing against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching News Produces Questions About Reds Staff

Cingrani is looked at by a team trainer during the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at GABP. Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching has been a main reason the Cincinnati Reds have remained in the hunt for a playoff spot this season. Doubt anyone would dispute that. With a couple of recent news items surrounding the pitching staff, got me to thinking.  

None of my thoughts are negative.

So Tony Cingrani left his last start due to back spasms. Old news now, I know. Cingrani’s next scheduled start was likely to be the series opener in Houston. The Reds website now lists Mike Leake as the probable starter. If Cingrani cannot go for the series second or even third game, you have to believe that Greg Reynolds would get the call.

Do you consider going in the following direction?

Johnny Cueto recently threw 60 pitches to the likes of Derrick Robinson, Neftali Soto, Jack Hannahan and Henry Rodriguez. All indications point to a successful session. But as Dusty noted, the organization is being “optimistically cautious”. There was the factor of Cueto tiring, as noted by Baker, so expecting anything more than 5 or 6 innings at this point is unrealistic.

And there’s always the fear of the same injury cropping up at an inopportune time. Say Game 1 of a postseason series?

There was also the report from John Fay that Cueto could go to the bullpen in order to help the team. Seems Mo Egger believes that how Cueto should be used. If you read his bit on this, it’s hard to disagree with his logic either.

No one would doubt that when Cueto is healthy, he is among the NL’s top hurlers. That’s the rub: when healthy. Haven’t seen a lot of a healthy Cueto this season as he’s made only nine starts. In two of those starts, he left early due to injury.

Egger also voices his injury concern:

Right now, starting Johnny is a huge gamble. If it goes wrong, and they have to yank him early again, there are reverberations that could last for days. Look no further than last year’s NLDS.

Maybe the question to ask is this. Could a two-week window change the situation that much?

No question the rotation has picked it up in Cueto’s absence. Sure, you’d love to have him as a starter, but I honestly don’t see it as a practical move at this point.

Speaking of the Reds bullpen, Sean Marshall had a recent session in which Marshall himself classified “as close to game ready now than I have in a long time”. With Baker currently using Zach Duke and Manny Parra as his bullpen lefties and both pitching effectively in their respective roles, working Marshall into the mix might be difficult.  There is nowhere to go for a brief rehab assignment.

You would love to hand the ball to Marshall on consecutive days as your setup for Aroldis Chapman. I mean, that would be his role, right? But as with Cueto’s situation, you run the risk of the injury recurring. That could be said of any player with multiple DL stints. Marshall fits that bill. Using Marshall on consecutive days could heighten that risk.

The other day, Zach looked at a potential postseason roster including his take on how he would construct the pitching staff.  In re-reading that as well as taking all of this into consideration.  I ask…

If Marshall and Cueto are good to go, could you possibly set the ‘pen as follows: Marshall, Cueto, Chapman? What about Cueto, Marshall, Chapman? Or would you consider LeCure, Marshall/Cueto, Chapman? Or do you stay the course with LeCure, Simon, Chapman?

Aren’t those intriguing possibilities?  Any others you have about the pitching staff?  What say the fans out in Redsland?

Tags: Cincinnati Reds Reds Pitching

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