Reds news: Sonny Gray’s setback will give Tony Santillan another start

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) reaches for a new ball.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) reaches for a new ball. /

While Sonny Gray’s rehab start will be pushed back a couple days, the brief interruption in the Cincinnati Reds‘ starter’s attempt to return to the field will give fellow pitcher Tony Santillan a chance to prove that he belongs in the big leagues. Look for Santillan to get the start on Tuesday versus the San Diego Padres.

Gray woke up on Wednesday with a stiff back, and rather than push the 31-year-old, the Reds decided to bump his rehab start from Thursday night to Saturday evening in Louisville. Gray is 1-4 on the season with a 3.42 ERA in 10 starts.

Reds rookie pitcher will likely start Tuesday’s game with Sonny Gray on the IL.

Assuming Saturday’s rehab game in Louisville goes well, fans can expect Sonny Gray back in the starting rotation on Thursday’s series finale versus the Padres. That delay in Gray’s return will necessitate a different starting pitcher for Tuesday’s contest against San Diego. Since Tony Santillan will be rested, he’ll likely get the ball that evening.

Santillan slugged his way through six innings of work last night, striking out a career-high eight batters and allowing just one earned run on three hits. Through three starts this season, Santillan is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA and 16 punch outs though 13.2 innings of work.

The question then becomes, what happens to Tony Santillan when Sonny Gray returns from the IL? While the possibility exists that Santillan could return to the starting rotation in Triple-A Louisville, the smart money is on Santillan finding a spot in the Reds bullpen.

With Cincinnati’s relief corps owning the worst ERA in all of baseball, adding an arm like Santillan to the group could really boost David Bell’s bullpen. There are some scouts who believe that Santillan is better suited as a reliever rather than a starter, but the right-hander has held his own so far this season.

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For now, look for Santillan to draw the start on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. In addition to Gray, look for Jeff Hoffman to return to the team relatively soon as well. With Tejay Antone just back off the IL and the likely addition of Hoffman and Santillan to the pen, perhaps Bell will have some more reliable arms to turn to late in games in the coming days.