Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day Starting Rotation Appears Set

Feb 18, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (28) jogs during workouts at Cincinnati Reds Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2016; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (28) jogs during workouts at Cincinnati Reds Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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With twelve days before Opening Day, the starting rotation for the Cincinnati Reds looks much clearer than what it was at the start of spring training. In the beginning, there were as many as eight or nine players vying for a starting job. Now, because of injury and roster cuts, the rotation looks almost complete.

Anthony DeSclafani almost certainly will be the Opening Day starter. Nothing has officially been announced, but Bryan Price has all but said DeSclafani will be on the mound on April 4. Though his ERA is 6.59 in 13.2 innings pitched, he has looked good with has 14 strikeouts and only three walks. Until Homer Bailey returns, DeSclafani will be at the top of the rotation.

Brandon Finnegan had to come into spring training trying to prove that he could be a starter. Of all the candidates vying for a spot, Finnegan is probably the one who has proved himself the most. He’s given up a lot of runs (10 in 11 innings), but most of those came in his most recent outing on March 20 against Arizona when he gave up five hits, two walks and six runs in just one inning. Because of the injury to Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias working his way back slowly, Finnegan finds himself as a lock to make the rotation.

On March 17, the Reds signed Alfredo Simon to a one-year deal. This was a smart move for the Reds, as it allows the younger guys such as Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson to stay down in the minors through the beginning of the season and prolongs their service time. Simon is just a place-holder until Reed and Stephenson are ready, and if Simon pitches well, maybe the Reds can get something back for him in a July trade similar to the first time they traded him and got Eugenio Suarez in return. Simon made his first spring start Tuesday and pitched three innings of shutout baseball.

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Reed has probably been the most impressive young pitcher in spring training. He’s pitched 11.1 innings in four games and has an ERA of just 3.97. He’s struck out 10 and walked only four. He struggled in his latest outing Monday, giving up four hits and four runs in 3.1 innings, but that’s normal for young pitchers. The Reds reassigned him to minor league camp Tuesday, but rest assured, if he continues to pitch in Louisville as he has pitched in Arizona, he will play for the Reds in 2016.

If you assume DeSclafani, Finnegan, and Simon take three of the rotation spots, that leaves two more up for grabs. Iglesias and Jon Moscot are probably the fourth and fifth starters, at least for now. Depending on his elbow, Lorenzen could come back at the end of April, but it’s likely he’ll start in the bullpen since his arm will not be stretched out. The Reds will start with four starters due to the off day after Opening Day. This will give Iglesias some more time given that he had a slow start to spring training with his shoulder.

But no matter what the rotation looks like on April 4, one thing is a given: the five that start the season in the rotation will not be the only five pitchers throughout the entire season. Expect many bumps in the road for the young guys as they navigate pitching in the major leagues.