Cincinnati Reds: Alex Wood should replace Anthony DeSclafani

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts as Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning during the game at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 07: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts as Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning during the game at PNC Park on April 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Alex Wood will be returning to the Cincinnati Reds in the next few weeks and should replace Anthony DeSclafani in the starting rotation.

Most Cincinnati Reds fans, including myself, initially would have believed Tyler Mahle was the obvious choice to be replaced once Alex Wood returns, but, he has pitched well following a trying 2018 season for the young man. Anthony DeSclafani, not Mahle. should be the odd-man out when Wood returns in the coming weeks.

In 2016, Anthony Desclafani was pitching like a high-end starter to the tune of a 3.28 ERA, 130 ERA+, 3.96 FIP, and 2.2 BB/9. He gave the Reds’ brass and fans alike plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the rotation.

However, a sprained UCL in his pitching elbow took away his 2017 season. Able to avoid surgery, Disco returned in 2018 to start 21 games. Unfortunately, he has not looked quite right ever since. It may be early in 2019, but, through 4 starts he sports a 5.59 ERA, 81 ERA+, 8 BB, 10.2 K/9, and 5.60 FIP through 19.1 IP.

Through his 4 starts, Tyler Mahle has a 3.52 ERA, 4 BB, 128 ERA+, 9.4 K/9, and 3.24 FIP through 23 IP. Mahle deserves to stay in the rotation, besides, Cincinnati needs to see what kind of a competitor they have in him moving beyond 2019, as he is only 24-years-old.

Undoubtedly, fans would love to see Zach Duke (9.00 ERA 7 IP 7.7 BB/9 52 ERA+ 6.40 FIP) replaced by Wood. The return of Scooter Gennett to the Cincinnati Reds lineup will likely mean the end of Duke’s tenure in Cincinnati however, upon which we can all rejoice.

The benefit of having Alex Wood on the roster is two-fold as he has experience as both a starter and a reliever. With the Los Angeles Dodgers, as a reliever, Wood had a 2.70 ERA in 50 innings pitched with 9.7 K/9, and 2 HRs allowed. As a starter, he had a 3.33 ERA in 753.1 innings pitched with a 8.2 K/9, and 66 HRs allowed.

If David Bell were to deem Wood not ready for the rotation upon his return, he could fill a role similar to what Robert Stephenson has done this season as a long reliever or a multi-inning setup pitcher to get to Raisel Iglesias or Amir Garrett late in games.

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What the Cincinnati Reds front office decides to do in order to get Alex Wood onto the active roster remains unknown, but their decisions should become clear very soon as Wood and Scooter should both be healthy in the next 2-4 weeks.