Reds foolishly select wrong reliever after placing Emilio Pagán on IL

The Reds could have made a better choice when replacing Emilio Pagán on the active roster.
Cincinnati Reds v Toronto Blue Jays
Cincinnati Reds v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

On Thursday morning, the Cincinnati Reds announced that reliever Emilio Pagan is heading to the IL with a triceps injury. Pagan was removed from Sunday's matchup after feeling soreness in his throwing arm. Rather than trying to wait it out, the Reds have chosen to put him on the IL and keep the bullpen full.

Thanks to a bevy of injuries, the Reds were forced to go outside the 40-man to replace Pagán on that active roster. Cincinnati selected the contract of right-hander Brett Kennedy, who joined the team for Thursday's matchup against the San Diego Padres.

Kennedy made his debut back in 2018 with San Diego but has pitched in just two seasons at the major league level. He threw 18 innings with the Reds last year and pitched to a 6.50 ERA. His 10.4% strikeout rate was 12% below league average.

The Reds should have brought up Tony Santillan to replace Emilio Pagán

Kennedy returned to the Reds on a minor-league contract this past winter but isn't faring much better in Triple-A. In 40.2 innings across eight starts, the righty has posted a 6.86 ERA with an equally poor 6.30 FIP. The Reds are calling him up to eat some low-leverage innings but there's just such a limited ceiling that you wonder whether they could have made a better choice.

One guy in the Reds' system who would seem to make more sense is reliever Tony Santillan. The righty has had mixed success in Cincinnati but has looked sharp so far in Triple-A. We're a couple years removed from Santillan being a top prospect in the Reds system but the talent that got him to that point is still there.

Santillan looked really good in spring training, where he competed as a non-roster invitee and nearly forced his way onto the Reds Opening Day roster. He's kept up that level of success through the first six weeks of the minor league season, striking out 33% of batters and posting a 2.45 ERA.

Santillan is walking a few too many guys but he's inducing a ton of weak contact, isn't allowing homers. Santillan's slider looks as sharp as ever. At this rate, it's only a matter of time before he pitches his way back into the Reds bullpen.

When Santillan came off the 60-day IL last summer, the Reds sent Kennedy back to Triple-A in the corresponding move. If Kennedy struggles in Cincinnati, it's possible that we see that same transaction for the second summer in a row.

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