With Alex Wood on the shelf, the Cincinnati Reds have limited options for the Opening Day starter. It now appears to be between three players.
Alex Wood is likely to begin the 2019 season on the injured list with a back injury. That likely puts Tyler Mahle into the starting rotation to start the season. Wood was the odds on favorite before Spring Training to start Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds. With Wood now sidelined, who will the Reds turn to to start on March 28th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cincinnati Reds essentially have three options for their Opening Day starter. With Luis Castillo‘s phenomenal end to the 2018 season, he had to be looked at as a possible candidate, right? After a horrendous spring that has seen the right-hander’s ERA reach 12.46 in 8.2 innings pitched, his candidacy for that No. 1 starter has to be virtually gone.
Tyler Mahle, who’s likely to fill in for Alex Wood should he miss significant time to begin the season, has pitched very well this spring. Mahle hasn’t allowed a single run during Cactus League play. He’s only pitched in six innings thus far and will likely have a longer outing on Monday when gets the start versus the Colorado Rockies.
More from Blog Red Machine
- Reds vs. White Sox: Pitching preview, prediction, and more
- Reds: Reiver Sanmartin adds another twist to offseason roster construction
- Reds: Signing Tyler Mahle to a contract extension should be a top priority
- Reds: Reiver Sanmartin should get first major league start vs Pirates
- Reds should unquestionably bring Wade Miley back in 2022
Though Mahle’s numbers cannot be ignored, the idea of him starting on Opening Day is highly unlikely. In fact, with three days during the first three weeks of the season, Mahle may be kept of the 25-man roster entirely to begin the season. Should he be needed, the Reds can recall him from Triple-A where he’s likely to spend a good portion of the 2019 season.
It’s really a three horse race between Tanner Roark, Anthony DeSclafani, and Sonny Gray. All three have outperformed most fan’s expectations this spring and for the first time in a long time, the Cincinnati Reds rotation appears to be formidable.
Roark got his first extended look on the mound last week and struck out eight batters while allowing one hit in five innings of work. That’ll play. So far this spring, Roark’s ERA is sitting at 2.51 in 14.1 innings of work. He’s got a total of 19 strikeouts during Cactus League play.
Anthony DeSclafani put in some work on Saturday. The right-hander has 14 strikeouts through 14 innings pitched during spring ball and has a 1.93 ERA. This is an important year for Disco to prove that he can stay healthy and be an effective major league pitcher. He’s certainly done both this spring, but the regular season is a grind.
Gray appears to be the leader of the pack so far. Though he was scratched from his first start due to elbow stiffness, the right-hander whom the Reds acquired from the New York Yankees this winter has shown that he’s got the stuff to be the No. 1 pitcher on this staff.
Gray has started 2 games and thrown 5 innings. He’s yet to allow a run and has 4 strikeouts. His absence from the rotation early on in Spring Training may affect his ability to draw the start on the Opening Day or, at the very least, limit the number of innings he’d pitch on March 28th should he get the call.
We’ll find out for sure in matter of days as we’re less than two weeks from the start of the season. The Cincinnati Reds have yet another good problem on their hands; who’s going to start Opening Day? All the questions surrounding the team this offseason have dealt with depth and how the Reds will handle having an excess of talent. We haven’t seen that in several years.