Early Leaders in Cincinnati Reds Starting Rotation Race


When Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were traded away during the Winter Meetings in December, two spots immediately opened up in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation. A number of candidates emerged, some already in the organization, some brought in on low-key deals. A week into spring training, we still don’t have any definitive answers on who will take the fourth and fifth rotation spots, so let’s take a look at how each pitcher is performing thus far in Goodyear.

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As you can see in the chart above, nearly all of the candidates have pitched well so far. Between the seven potential starters, they’ve only given up six earned runs.

From the beginning of spring training, manager Bryan Price has said that Tony Cingrani and Anthony DeSclafani are the favorites to grab the last two spots. The Reds have to be pleased with the way Cingrani has come back after a poor, injury-ridden season in 2014. He’s hit 94 mph on the radar gun and has given up only one run in two spring appearances. DeSclafani has had the most trouble of all the candidates, giving up three runs in his last start, but he certainly hasn’t even come close to removing himself from contention.

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For now, Cingrani and DeSclafani remain the favorites to take the four and five spots, but there have been some standouts who could really challenge them, namely Jason Marquis and Michael Lorenzen.

Marquis has been the most surprising story to me. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 and spent last season in the minor league system of the Philadelphia Phillies, going 4-1 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. It seemed Marquis’ chances of making it back to the big leagues were slim at best. While it’s early and spring stats don’t always mean anything, his first two starts have been quite impressive and he could earn his way onto the 25-man roster.

Lorenzen has come into camp and pitched like the top five prospect he’s been labeled as. Before spring training began, most — including myself — didn’t think Lorenzen had much of a shot at making the rotation, but he’s forcing people to pay more attention to him now. He’s also grabbed the attention of Price and could grab a spot as a long reliever at the very least.

Raisel Iglesias, Paul Maholm, and David Holmberg have all performed well, too.

Iglesias struggled in his first appearance, but has bounced back nicely in his last two. Right now, my guess is he’ll start the season in Triple-A Louisville if they truly intend to stretch him out as a starter. If not, he could wind up in the Cincinnati bullpen.

Maholm has allowed only three baserunners in five spring innings, so he can’t be ruled out for a rotation position either. However, I feel his best chance to make the roster is as a long reliever who can make a spot start if needed.

Finally, Holmberg has come into camp in much better shape this spring and it’s showing. He’s probably on the outside looking in as far as grabbing a rotation spot, but the Reds have to feel good about the depth they have in the left-hander.

It’s still early in spring training, but this rotation race is shaping up to be one close finish. For now, Cingrani and DeSclafani likely still have the upper hand, but nobody can be ruled out yet.

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