Reds: Tony Santillan seems destined for the bullpen

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Tony Santillan #64 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Brave. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 24: Tony Santillan #64 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Brave. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tony Santillan put together another guest performance, but with Sonny Gray returning from the injured list on Friday, the right-hander seems destined for the bullpen. If not, the front office could send him back to Triple-A Louisville.

Santillan labored through three tough innings last night against the San Diego Padres. The right-hander allowed six hits and two earned runs 75 pitches. That type of inefficient outing is unsustainable and will ultimately put more pressure on an already strapped bullpen.

Tony Santillan should be moved to the Reds bullpen.

The Reds will have two options when Sonny Gray returns on Friday; move Tony Santillan to the bullpen or ship the right-hander back to Triple-A Louisville and remain a starter. Given the lack of consistency from the Cincinnati relief corps, the more prudent move seems to be shifting Santillan from a starter to a reliever.

By doing so, Cincinnati could effectively boost their bullpen without going the trade route. Furthermore, you really have to question if Santillan is likely to remain a starting pitcher within the Reds organization with the likely promotions of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo in the near future.

This isn’t about whether or not Santillan can be a starting pitcher, but rather should he be a starting pitcher. Even looking into the future, you can envision a 2022 starting rotation of Gray, Greene, Lodolo, Tyler Mahle, and Luis Castillo. Wade Miley also has a $10M team-option for next season, and Vladimir Gutierrez has proven that he belongs as well.

With those seven pitchers likely competing for five spots next season, you can see why it makes sense to move Santillan into the bullpen rather than develop the hulking Texan into a starting pitcher. Santillan is a gamer, but shorter stints might actually help him be more effective with that upper-90s fastball and power slider.

Tony Santillan would really boost the Reds’ bullpen.

Jeff Hoffman is likely to return very soon, and like Tony Santillan, he seems destined for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen as well. With Michael Lorenzen hoping to return next month as well, the Cincinnati relief corps looks to be getting a boost from internally.

Add to that the return of Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims, and this Reds bullpen is has the makings of something formidable. Amir Garrett seems to be slowly returning to form, and Brad Brach has proved to be more than a serviceable reliever for the Reds this season.

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Having Tony Santillan laying in wait in the backend of the bullpen would be an option, or he could serve the role of a multiple inning reliever, as he’s shown the ability to throw over 100 pitches both in the minor and major leagues this season.