Cincinnati Reds need pitching health in order to take any steps forward in 2017

Mandatory credit: Kareem Elgazzer/The Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory credit: Kareem Elgazzer/The Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK /

Pitching injuries nearly ruined the 2016 season for the Cincinnati Reds and it could happen again.

The Cincinnati Reds allowed more home runs than ever in 2016.  Some of it could have been from pitch selection and some of it could have been from bad pitchers, but the injuries to the pitching staff has to be discussed.  While the relief corps made it through the season mostly unscathed, the rotation only made it through the season with one starter healthy the entire way.

When the Reds were without Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani, they had the worst bullpen in all of baseball.  When the duo returned and Michael Lorenzen joined the bullpen, the team became a .500 team.  That’s the corner stone of the health issues for the Reds.

With Homer Bailey and DeSclafani out to start the season, Alfredo Simon and John Lamb entered the rotation.  Robert Stephenson was installed as the number five starter.  Fortunately, two turns into the rotation Dan Straily entered the rotation.

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Fast forward a year and things don’t look that different.  Homer Bailey is going to miss the first month of the season after undergoing surgery and DeSclafani is out to start the season.  Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo have been added to the staff, but neither is a sure thing.

Already down two starters, the Cincinnati Reds need the rest to stay healthy in order to hold the staff together.

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The good news is that Tim Adleman saved the staff in the second half last year.  He made 13 starts in Bailey’s spot in the rotation and is in line to do so again this year.  He only pitched a combined 125 innings, though, meaning he may not last the whole season.

DeSclafani also has to stay healthy once he returns for the Reds to have any semblance of a successful season.  He averaged over six innings per start over 20 starts after returning from his injury.  His health will cover the innings that Straily pitched in 2016, if he can return to the rotation sometime in April.

That means that someone has to back fill DeSclafani’s innings, as well as replacing the ineffective John Lamb and Alfredo Simon.  Two of the three from among Bronson Arroyo, Amir Garrett and Stephenson appear to be the first in line to try to fill the gap.  Neither Arroyo nor Garrett pitched any MLB innings last year.  That likely will force Feldman into the rotation to start the season.

Once again health is ultimately important, as there has been no discussion of the only pitcher to make every start in his turn of the rotation, Brandon Finnegan.  He is the number two starter right now.  He needs to stay healthy in order to be a version of a workhorse.  Last year was his first full season as a professional starter.

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There are other pitchers in the organization that could make starts.  The Reds don’t expect any of them to make any MLB starts this year.  Hopefully, the Reds can minimize starts by those pitchers and come close to .500 in 2017.