Reds: Vladimir Gutierrez’s stellar start paves the way for Tony Santillan

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tony Santillan (64) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tony Santillan (64) throws a pitch. /

Vladimir Gutierrez was impressive in his first major league start. The right-hander went five innings, struck out three batters, and allowed just one run; a solo shot off the bat of David Bote. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, that one run was the difference in yesterday’s game as the Cincinnati Reds fell to the Chicago Cubs by the score of 1-0.

However, Gutierrez has been inserted into Jeff Hoffman’s vacated starting spot after the former Colorado Rockies hurler went on the 10-day injured list with a shoulder injury. While there doesn’t appear to be an opening in the starting rotation at the moment, Gutierrez’s strong showing is a good sign for another top pitching prospect; right-hander Tony Santillan.

Tony Santillan will be the next hurler to join the Reds starting staff.

Coming into the 2021 season, it was assumed that the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation would be comprised of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, and Michael Lorenzen. Injuries changed up David Bell’s original rotation, as both Gray and Lorenzen missed their first starts of the 2021 campaign.

While Gray is back in the mix, Lorenzen may not return to the active roster until after the All-Star break. Furthermore, Jeff Hoffman, Lorenzen’s initial replacement has been a less than desirable option for Bell of late. Gutierrez’s potential trumps anything Hoffman brings to the table, and I have a hard time seeing Hoffman returning to the rotation.

Another opening in the starting rotation does not seem to be in the cards unless the Reds take extreme measures and option the struggling Luis Castillo to Triple-A Louisville. Castillo leads all Cincinnati starters with seven losses on the season and owns a 7.61 ERA and 1.796 WHIP.

Tony Santillan is the Reds best remaining pitcher in Triple-A.

With the promotion of Vladimir Gutierrez to the 26-man roster, Tony Santillan is now the next man in line to receive a promotion to the big leagues. Santillan is 1-1 on the season for the Louisville Bats and has posted a 1.86 ERA in three starts. Santillan has pitched in 19.1 innings and has 23 strikeouts to go along with six walks.

Santillan’s progress was slowed by an unappealing 2019 season and the lack of a minor league campaign in 2020. Santillan put up fabulous numbers, however, in 2018 for Double-A Pensacola, going 4-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 11 starts. He followed that breakout season, however, with 2-8 record in 2019 with Double-A Chattanooga, a season in which he owned a 4.84 ERA.

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This season Tony Santillan seems to be back on course, and the former second-round pick is the odds-on favorite to get the next available spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. It’s more likely, at this moment, that Santillan would be used in a pinch for a spot start as part of a doubleheader or an injury replacement. Still, his time is coming.