Anthony DeSclafani will turn the Cincinnati Reds trio of aces into a quartet

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 28: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 28: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Anthony DeSclafani returns to the Reds rotation today.

The Cincinnati Reds starting rotation was supposed to be, and has been, the strength of this year’s team. However, the Reds have been missing one of the key pieces to their rotation with the absence of Anthony DeSclafani. His return to the lineup will help turn Cincinnati’s trio of aces into a quartet.

DeSclafani will take the hill in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. The Reds have been baffled by Detroit’s solid pitching and timely hitting so far this season, going 1-3 against the lowly Tigers. Hopefully Disco is on his game and the Reds are able to salvage a season-split against a team that lost 114 games just last year.

DeSclafani missed his first start of the young season with a mild right teres major strain. The right-hander missed his first start and was replaced in thee rotation by Tyler Mahle. While Mahle has the talent to be a solid piece in the Reds rotation, DeSclafani is on another level.

Last season saw Disco put up the type of performance that fans always thought was possible. The Florida native went 9-9, falling just short of double-digits victories. DeSclafani was in the Top 20 of the National League in strikeouts (167) and ERA (3.89). Another year like that will land DeSclafani a handsome new contract this offseason, as he’ll become a free agent this winter.

While a lot of adulation is thrown at the Reds trio of starters (Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer), Anthony DeSclafani is not too far from being at that level. The 30-year-old finally put together a healthy season, pitching in 31 games, and saw career-highs in many categories.

The talent has always been there for DeSclafani, but he had a hard time staying healthy. After making 31 starts in 2015 and pitching in over 180 innings, Disco looked like one of the up-and-comers in the Cincinnati rotation. But DeSclafani made just 20 starts the following season and missed all of 2017 before coming back to pitch in just 21 games during the 2018 season.

If we compare Anthony DeSclafani’s 2015 and 2019 seasons, we se many improvements. According to FanGraphs, Disco’s walk-rate is the same, but his strikeout-rate has improved from 19.2% to 24.0%. DeSclafani has less dependance on his fastball, throwing it just 55% of the time, but he’s increased his velocity, with his four-seamer now touching almost 95-MPH on average.

DeSclafani’s 7.0% walk-rate from 2019 was better than Gray, Castillo and Bauer. Disco’s biggest faux was the long ball. His 1.57 HR/9 was down from 2018 (1.88), but it’s still troublesome, as Disco surrendered 29 home runs in 2019, fifth-worst in the NL.

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Along with his teammate Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani has the opportunity to assert himself as one of the top free agent pitchers available this offseason. It all starts with a solid outing today against the Tigers. With as poorly as the Cincinnati Reds offense performed on Friday night, the team needs Disco to play up to his potential.