The Cincinnati Reds roster is basically set except for the final two spots in the bullpen. Does Wandy Peralta have a chance? Don’t count on it.
And then there were two. The Cincinnati Reds have all but finalized their 2019 Opening Day roster. The last two remaining spots will be in the bullpen. The Reds have three options in Wandy Peralta, Matt Wisler, and Robert Stephenson. The final decision may literally come down to options and Peralta seems like the odd-man out.
Anthony Bass and Matt Bowman were reassigned to minor league camp after yesterday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Bowman has options remaining, but Bass will have to clear waivers before making his way to Triple-A Louisville to begin the season.
With Bass and Bowman now out of the picture, the final spots in the Reds’ pen offer some very compelling decisions. Does the team take Peralta, who’s pitched flawlessly this spring by allowing no runs and only 6 hits in 9 innings pitched? Or, do they play it safe knowing that Stephenson and Wisler are out of minor league options and sent Peralta to Triple-A Louisville to begin the season?
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There isn’t a pitcher on the Reds’ roster who’s had a more impressive spring than Wandy Peralta. The left-hander has been lights versus the competition with 7 strikeouts, only 1 walk, and a 0.780 WHIP. That is impressive.
However, Stephenson, in limited action, has been equally impressive. Though he was injured at the start of spring ball, Robert Stephenson has flashed that same potential that made the Cincinnati Reds take Stephenson in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. In 3 innings of work, Stephenson hasn’t allowed a run or a walk.
The free passes have haunted Stephenson his entire career. In his 4 games last season, Stephenson finished with more walks than strikeouts. He’s claimed in the past that walks are part of his game, but perhaps new Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson has a different opinion on that. While some believe that a change of scenery could do Stephenson some good, let’s not forget that he had Bryan Price around for the majority of his career. Maybe Johnson can work his magic.
Wisler is a different story. He was acquired in the trade with the Atlanta Braves last season that sent Adam Duvall to the ATL in exchange for Wisler, Lucas Sims, and Preston Tucker. Wisler has had a good spring himself, striking out 16 batters while only walking 1. His spring ERA has climbed a bit recently to 4.09, but he’s still thrown well.
A lot of who gets these final two spots is going to come down to minor league options. Both Wisler and Stephenson area out of options while Wandy Peralta has two remaining. If I had to guess it would appear that strictly from a business perspective the Reds should take Stephenson and Wisler to Cincinnati and send Peralta to Louisville.
The starting rotation is set. Luis Castillo is the Opening Day starter and will be followed by Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Anthony DeSclafani. Tyler Mahle, who will replace the injured Alex Wood in the rotation, will be the team’s fifth starter and take the hill on April 2nd against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The bullpen has the likes of Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Michael Lorenzen, and lefties Amir Garrett and Zach Duke. Adding another lefty like Peralta certainly wouldn’t hurt either, but just reading the tea leaves makes me think that he’s on his way back to Triple-A.
The Cincinnati Reds have shown a willingness to make better business decisions this offseason and I’d expect the same this go-around. Nick Senzel‘s change of position and then reassignment were business decisions.
Changing the roles of both Sal Romano and Cody Reed to relievers and sending them to Triple-A Louisville were business decisions. Phillip Ervin’s terrific spring ended in a reassignment to minor league camp; also a business decision.
Wandy Peralta will, no doubt, get a call up to the major leagues sometime this season. Arms get tired, injuries happen, and some of these pitchers are bound to struggle. Peralta will get his opportunities this season, but don’t expect him to be on the Opening Day roster.