The Tony Cingrani Saga: Mike Leake Should Stay


Sept 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Tony Cingrani (52) throws during the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsIt is fascinating to watch and even participate in fan forums, especially when it involves someone replacing an injured comrade.

The latest for us here in Redland, is actually two-fold. What to do with Tony Cincingrani (sic) and who leaves town when Chris Heisey returns to the team.

For the purpose of this piece I want to focus on the pitching.

Cincingrani has proven beyond a doubt that he is a major league pitcher. There should be no debate about that. The debate is officially opened when you say what should happen to him when Reds’ ace, Johnny Cueto comes back from rehab assignments.

I have read everything, including but not limited to using a six-man rotation; sending Mike Leake to Louisville (he does have options); and even converting Leake to a shortstop where he played when he wasn’t pitching at Arizona State.

Cincingrani started with a bang on April 18 against the Miami Marlins. He pitched five innings, picked up the win, allowed only five hits, an earned run, three walks and eight strikeouts. Not a quality start, but a very good start, no question about that. Really there were only a couple of downsides to that performance. The first was that it took the rookie 102 pitches to survive five innings. The second is that he was taken yard by Justin Ruggiano. That was a precursor of things to come.

Of his first five MLB starts, he can boast only two quality starts. He is throwing an average of 17.6 pitches per inning. Even with the rough patch Leake has gone through this year, he is just averaging 15.9. Bronson Arroyo gets by on 13.7 P/I. I know that Cincingrani is a strikeout artist and Arroyo isn’t.

Cincingrani is throwing 84 percent heat at an average temperature of 92.8. Leake uses six different pitches and mixes them up pretty well. He throws a fourseam fast ball 4 percent of the time at 91 mph, a sinker 46 percent at 90 mph and a cutter 19 percent at 88 percent. The point I am trying to make here is that when batters catch up to Cincingrani’s fast ball, it probably goes about 410 feet. And in the biggies, they will catch up eventually.

Some have said Cincingrani should stay and go to the bullpen. That is no good. If that happens, somebody else (Ondrusek ?) would have to be demoted. You already have at least two long reliever/spot starters in Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon, I don’t see a need for another one.

Leake was a number one pick in the 2009 draft and made the parent squad immediately. Cincingrani was the third pick in 2011. Leake is already in his fourth season in MLB and has proven himself to be a fifth starter that most teams would be happy to have. Cingrani will clearly be that himself, but just not yet. He needs more time in the lower level to hone his craft and perhaps learn another pitch or two.

He wasn’t called up to take someone’s job, only to fill a vacancy which he did in a most admirable fashion. Good on ya Tony, seriously.

I mean it isn’t like Lou Gehrig filling in for Wally Pipp and never looking back.
Things need to be placed in proper perspective. If someone else goes down, he comes right back up and fills in again.

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