Cincinnati Reds: Why Anthony DeSclafani deserves another chance

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 08: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning . (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 08: Anthony DeSclafani #28 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning . (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Anthony DeSclafani should return to the Reds on a one-year contract.

Robbie Ray signed a one-year/$8M contract with the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. That seems a bit steep for a player coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. However, if that the market for starting pitchers this winter, perhaps the Cincinnati Reds should look to re-sign Anthony DeSclafani rather than throwing big money at Trevor Bauer.

The majority of fans throughout Reds Country would love to see Bauer return to the Queen City in 2021, but that appears to be a bit of a pipe dream. Bauer may be the hottest free agent on the market and could sign with any number teams, most of whom are likely to spend bigger than the Reds this offseason.

Re-signing Anthony DeSclafani would be a nice consolation prize. Cincinnati’s coaching staff is familiar with DeSclafani and the right-hander was slated to be a big part of the Reds starting rotation last season. In fact, once he returned from the injured list following mild right teres major strain, DeSclafani went 11 scoreless innings while striking out eight and allowing just one walk.

The wheels came off, however, in DeSclafani’s next start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Buccos feasted on Disco and he was chased from the game after just two innings. DeSclafani’s final line in that game was not good, as he walked two batters while striking out just one and surrendered three home runs. In the end, DeSclafani was charged with nine earned runs.

It was all downhill from there, as DeSclafani went 3-3 in the following six games. Two of his appearances came out of the bullpen. Disco allowed 27 hits, 18 runs and walked 13 batters while striking out only 16. Opponents had a .965 OPS during that stretch.

Anthony DeSclafani did not have a good year in 2020. The right-hander had a career-worst 10.1% walk-rate and his 15.8% strikeout-rate was among the bottom 9% in the league according to Baseball Savant. While most fans will see a decline in DeSclafani’s numbers and ask why would the Reds want to re-sign him, I’d ask why not?

After several steady seasons, 2020 seems to be more of an anomaly than a trend. After returning from the IL in 2018 following a year-plus absence, DeSclafani saw his strikeout percentage increase and his four-seam fastball gain some velocity.

After averaging 93.5-MPH in 2018, Disco’s heater averaged 94.7-MPH last season. That’s higher than fellow starters Sonny Gray (93-MPH), Tyler Mahle (93.9-MPH), and Trevor Bauer (93.5-MPH). There’s nothing with Anthony DeSclafani’s arm, that’s for sure.

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With MLB Trade Rumors projecting DeSclafani to sign a one-year deal worth $4M, the former sixth-round pick could certainly bring value if he plays up to his potential. If not, the Reds have plenty of other arms (Tejay Antone, Tony Santillan, and Nick Lodolo) that could fill in should DeSclafani fall short of expectations.