Cincinnati Reds will move Raisel Iglesias to relief role when he returns

Apr 14, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias (26) warms up before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias (26) warms up before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day starter is heading to the bullpen.

Pitcher Raisel Iglesias has shown plenty of promise in his short big-league career. His health, however, has not cooperated with him.

Last year, his rookie season, was cut short by right shoulder fatigue. The 26-year-old made just five starts this year before heading to the disabled list with a shoulder impingement.

Iglesias has been slowly working his way back, but when he’s ready to return to game action — which should be near the end of June — it won’t be in a starting role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan, Iglesias will transition to a relief role in order to ease the stress on his throwing shoulder and protect his health.

Although Iglesias will be in the ‘pen for the time being, the book isn’t closed on him as a starter. He could be used in the rotation again later this season or in 2017, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon pointed out:

Before going on the DL, Iglesias went 1-1 with a 3.49 ERA, 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 28 1/3 innings.

This news comes on the heels of the announcement that Michael Lorenzen will also be heading to the bullpen when he returns from the disabled list, where he has spent the entire season due to a right elbow strain.

The common link here is both pitchers used to be relievers. Lorenzen served as the closer for Cal State Fullerton before the Reds took him in the first round of the 2013 draft, while Iglesias was a reliever in Cuba before signing with Cincinnati.

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In recent years, the club has tried to turn several former relievers into starters: Tony Cingrani, Lorenzen, Nick Howard and Iglesias. None have panned out so far. All four pitchers dealt with arm injuries after transitioning to a starting role, and all four have since been moved to the bullpen.

It’s hard to fault the Reds for being careful with Iglesias and his health. He’s not only a highly gifted player, he’s also in the midst of a seven-year, $27 million contract. But it’s fair to question whether he’ll ever be able to be a starting pitcher. When and if he does go back to the rotation, he’ll have to again work on endurance in order to do so, and there will also be concern about the number of innings he can pitch. Adding on to that is the fact that the Reds have a ton of talented starting pitchers, with some already contributing in the majors and several others on the verge of breaking through.

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In some good news for Reds pitchers, Anthony DeSclafani has completed his rehab assignment and is set to make his first major-league start of the season on Friday against the Oakland Athletics. After another poor outing on Sunday, Jon Moscot will likely be removed from the starting rotation in favor of DeSclafani.