Who Will Round Out the Cincinnati Reds Starting Rotation in 2015?


Tony Cingrani

Of all the internal candidates the Reds currently have, Cingrani is the most likely to get a spot in the 2015 rotation. This past Monday, manager Bryan Price said that Cingrani would be the next in line for a spot if a starting pitcher was traded. Now that two have been dealt, Cingrani is a near lock to be a part of the staff when the 2015 season begins.

Cingrani has spent parts of three seasons with the Reds. After appearing in three games in 2012, Cingrani had an outstanding rookie season with the Reds in 2013. In 23 games (18 starts), Cingrani was 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 120 strikeouts in 104.2 innings. The future looked bright for Cingrani, as he started the 2014 season in the Reds’ rotation and pitched seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the second game of the season. However, the rest of his season was filled with ineffectiveness and injuries.

Moving forward to 2015, it’s imperative that Cingrani works on his secondary pitches and stops relying solely on his fastball. He also needs to work on keeping his pitch count down and going deeper into games. Bouts of wildness have caused Cingrani to make it through the seventh inning just five times in his 29 career starts.

If he can return to his 2013 form, Cingrani will be a welcomed addition to the starting rotation.

Anthony DeSclafani

Acquired in the trade for Mat Latos, DeSclafani has a great chance of becoming the Reds’ fifth starter in 2015.

After being acquired from the Blue Jays in the giant Jose Reyes/Mark Buerhle trade, DeSclafani worked his way up the Marlins’ farm system and was ranked their number five prospect after the 2013 season, according to Baseball America. The right hander made his Major League debut last season, going 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA (with a 3.77 FIP, however), 1.36 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 33 innings with five starts in 13 appearances.

Despite his struggles in the Majors last season, DeSclafani has put up solid numbers in the minor leagues. Last season in Triple-A New Orleans, he went 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 59.1 innings. He won’t walk many batters either, averaging only two walks per nine innings in his minor league career and giving up only five walks during his time with Miami last season.

Barring a horrible Spring Training, I think DeSclafani is the favorite to grab the fifth spot in the rotation right now.

Dylan Axelrod

Don’t rule out Axelrod in the competition for the last rotation spot. Although he struggled during his time with the Chicago White Sox in parts of three seasons, Axelrod pitched well for the Reds last year after being traded for in July.

After Homer Bailey was placed on the DL, Axelrod was called up from Triple-A to start the second half of a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, unquestionably the hardest park to pitch at in the major leagues. Axelrod pitched six innings, giving up two runs and striking out seven in a game that the bullpen would later blow. For the season, Axelrod pitched in five games (four starts), going 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 20 strikeouts in 18.1 innings.

Axelrod impressed the Reds in his limited time with them last season. If he goes to Spring Training and pitches the same way, he could leave the Reds with no choice but to give him a spot with them in 2015.

David Holmberg

Holmberg made five starts with the Reds in 2014 after coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the three-team deal for Ryan Hanigan. He pitched very poorly in his first two starts, in which he combined to give up 11 runs and seven walks in only 5.1 innings.

After rejoining the Reds in Sept., Holmberg pitched quite well. When Dylan Axelrod was forced from the game with injury on Sept. 8, Holmberg pitched 5.2 shutout innings against the Cardinals in relief. A member of the starting rotation the rest of the way, Holmberg went 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He didn’t strike out many batters, but that’s never been a part of Holmberg’s game.

If Holmberg can carry over his success from the end of last season, he could make a compelling case to become the Reds’ fifth starter in 2015.

Daniel Corcino

Corcino probably isn’t one of the favorites to join the rotation, but he certainly has a shot after a solid performance with the Reds in September.

Corcino was once a heralded prospect for the Reds, but fell off the map a bit after a terrible season in 2013 with Triple-A Louisville. He spent most of last season in Double-A Pensacola and made one start in Triple-A, going 10-12 with a 4.24 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 119 strikeouts in 148.2 innings. Walks have always been a big problem with Corcino, and last season was no different; he walked 74 batters in the minors–4.5 walks per 9 innings.

With the Reds in September, Corcino made five appearances with three starts. His starts were fairly impressive, as he went 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 12 strikeouts in 16 innings, though his innings were limited due to his control problems.

I think a couple other candidates would have to falter or get injured for Corcino to have a serious chance at being a part of the Reds’ rotation in 2015, but he could be a good candidate to start the season in the bullpen.

Dark Horses

Some other, less likely candidates could include top prospects Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias. I don’t feel that any of these three will start the season with the Reds, but if they blow everyone away in Spring Training, it’s certainly possible.

Stephenson, the Reds’ top prospect, hasn’t pitched above Double-A, where he hit a bump in the road after breezing through the lower levels of the minor leagues. Lorenzen was solid in Double-A last season, but the Reds will probably want him to get some experience in Triple-A before promoting him. Finally, Iglesias will likely start the season in Triple-A or in the Reds’ bullpen. In the Arizona Fall League, Iglesias only pitched in relief and Walt Jocketty has said they intend to use him out of the bullpen for now.

2015 Starting Rotation Prediction: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Anthony DeSclafani