Reds: Tony Santillan belongs in the starting rotation, not the bullpen

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tony Santillan (74) throws in the bullpen.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tony Santillan (74) throws in the bullpen. /

After allowing a home run on his very first pitch of last night’s game, Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Tony Santillan settled in and put together a career night. The Louisville Bats fell to the St. Paul Saints, but in no way was Santillan the cause of the loss.

Santillan racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts over seven innings of work, allowing just two earned runs on three hits. The right-hander did walk four batters but went the distance (last night’s performance came in Game 1 of a doubleheader), hurling 111 pitches, 66 of which went for strikes.

Tony Santillan is the next man up for the Reds.

We’ve heard his name for some time now. Ever since Tony Santillan broke out in 2018, fans have been waiting for the hulking Texan to make his major league debut. A regression of sorts in 2019 slowed his ascension, and last year’s cancellation of the minor league season all but wiped out Santillan’s chances of making the Opening Day roster this season.

But, Santillan has put together a masterful resumé while playing for Triple-A Louisville this season, and it’s only a matter of time before the hard-throwing right-hander gets his shot. Santillan is 1-3 with a 2.51 ERA through 32.1 innings pitched over his six starts this season.

Tony Santillan mowed down his opponents last night. After allowing a lead off home run to Kentucky native J.T Riddle, Santillan punched out four of the next four batters he faced, and struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Tony Santillan belongs in the Reds rotation, not the bullpen.

After watching the Cincinnati Reds relief corps allow the St. Louis Cardinals to nearly spoil Luis Castillo’s stellar outing, it’s fair to question whether or not the front office should promote Tony Santillan to the big leagues and insert him into a relief role.

The Reds have watched failed starters Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, and Raisel Iglesias turn into solid relievers, but Cincinnati’s front office and the fanbase need to allow Santillan to develop into the back-of-the-rotation starter he’s capable of being.

Yes, Santillan could be dominant in the backend of the bullpen with a fastball/ slider combination, but after showing that he can go seven innings and throw 111 pitches, the Reds front office need to keep the right-hander in Triple-A Louisville until a spot opens in the Cincinnati starting rotation.

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If the club falters during the month of July, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to see the likes of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Wade Miley emerge as potential trade targets for contenting teams in need of starting pitcher.