As we continue to grade the performances of the 2019 Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani is up next. The right-hander rebounded from a disappointing 2018 season.
The Cincinnati Reds showed improvement in 2019, but no one on the roster may have improved more than Anthony DeSclafani. After being away from baseball for nearly two years, Disco returned in 2018, but struggled to a 7-8 season in just 21 starts. Not only did DeSclafani improve his record to 9-9 in 2019, but had one of the lowest ERAs in the National League.
DeSclafani came to Cincinnati in 2014 from the Miami Marlins. The right-hander was immediately placed in the Reds rotation the following season and went 9-13 in 31 starts. Though his 4.05 ERA was not overly impressive, DeSclafani showed flashes of being a key piece in the rotation.
A few stints on the injured list the following season saw Disco start just 20 games, going 9-5 and producing a 3.28 ERA. Ready to elevate himself to the top of the rotation in 2017, Disco never got onto the field. A sprained UCL and tendinitis in his right elbow forced DeSclafani to miss the entire 2017 season and he didn’t see the field again until June 5, 2018.
This season was a make or break year for the 29-year-old. Entering 2019, DeSclafani was sitting in a precarious position. He was in the running for a starting spot in the rotation, but the likes of Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano and Cody Reed were knocking on the door. The Reds also added Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, so the margin for error was razor-thin.
Through the first two months, DeSclafani didn’t crack the 100-pitch mark once. His ERA was sitting at 4.97 and he’d given up 14 home runs in 11 games. With Wood rehabbing and looking to return to the rotation, it seemed as though Disco’s time in Cincinnati was nearing an end. Oh, how wrong we all were.
In five starts in June, DeSclafani got back to the pitcher he was early in his career. DeSclafani was aggressively attacking the strike zone and was elevating his fastball – something that’s counterintuitive this day and age, especially in a hitter friendly park like GABP. However, his adjustments paid off and DeSclafani went 3-1 in June with a 3.08 ERA.
July produced more of the same results, with DeSclafani going 1-1 and owning a 2.78 ERA. In 22.2 innings pitched, Disco struck out 26 batters and allowed just 6 walks. DeSclafani struggled a bit in August, but rebounded nicely in the final month of the season. Disco pitched 31 innings in the month of September and lowered his overall ERA to 3.89, good enough for 19th best in the NL.
Now, there is one area of Anthony DeSclafani’s game that can be criticized, and that’s the ridiculous rate at which he gives up home runs. Disco surrendered 29 long balls in 2019, which is the 5th most among National League pitchers. The one saving grace for DeSclafani is that this season saw an abnormal number of balls leave the park, perhaps due to the baseball itself.
Outside of high rate of home runs, Anthony DeSclafani put together a solid season. He’ll be arbitration eligible for the final time as we enter the offseason. One has to wonder if the Cincinnati Reds might approach Disco about a contract extension. Unlikely to re-sign Trevor Bauer after the season, DeSclafani could be a solid No. 3 in the Reds rotation for years to come.