After a year in which all three starters were supposed to be healthy, the Cincinnati Reds need to see that the Big Three lack reliability.
Last season, Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan combined to start 22 games. The trio also pitched 104 innings. Essentially, the three of them combined to be half of a normal MLB starter.
In 2016 the trio combined for 57 starts. They pitched just over 300 innings combined. In other words the trio combined for two mediocre pitchers.
2016 was Finnegan’s first year as a starter. He was the only starting pitcher on the team that made every start for his spot in the rotation. The rest of the starts were made by Anthony DeSclafani.
In 2015 Finnegan made four starts after coming over in the Johnny Cueto deal, so he doesn’t count. Bailey and DeSclafani made 33 combined starts or as many as number one or number two pitcher. Bailey only made two of the starts.
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So as a trio for the past three years they have never produced as a top three group. Calling them the Big Three doesn’t really capture their value to the Reds. The “unreliable trio” would be more appropriate or even “two out of three ain’t bad”.
With the ascendancy of Luis Castillo, the Cincinnati Reds may want to consider pivoting to other options.
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Supposedly, all three are healthy this spring. Supposedly, all three will be ready when the season starts. If you take supposedly and compare it to realistically, then the Reds need to prep some of the prospects.
Going down the stretch of 2017, both Robert Stephenson and Tyler Mahle looked ready to be capable MLB starters. Sal Romano and Amir Garrett had their moments too. Those four could combine with Castillo to make the rotation.
The better plan might be to let Bailey and DeSclafani have their spots in the rotation, if healthy. Neither of them appear ready to relieve. That just leaves Finnegan.
It might make sense to move Finnegan back to the bullpen. He was great for the Kansas City Royals when he first came up. The Royals transitioned him to starting before trading him to the Reds.
The Cincinnati Reds have plenty of starting pitching options, but they need to make the best possible use of all of their talent. That may include letting DeSclafani and Bailey start games because the alternative is costly. It also includes having multiple prospects ready to step in if the duo finds more injuries.