Injuries may force Luis Cessa into the Reds bullpen

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Luis Cessa
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Luis Cessa / Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Cessa has been on a roller coaster of late. The Cincinnati Reds right-hander returned from the World Baseball Classic early in order to bolster his chances of securing a spot in the starting rotation.

Cessa was back in Goodyear a few days ago and pitched in Sunday's Cactus League game versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The 30-year-old went just three innings while allowing two runs on two hits while also striking out two batters. That's not bad considering his made just one appearance during the WBC.

Reds manager David Bell said on Wednesday, via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, that Cessa would have enough time to build up to be ready to start by the beginning of the season. That may be true, but will injuries force Cessa into the bullpen?

Injuries may force Luis Cessa into the Reds bullpen.

In case you haven't heard, the Cincinnati Reds will be sending a plethora of players to the Injured List to begin the season. Vladimir Gutierrez is already on the 60-day IL and will soon be joined by Justin Dunn and Tejay Antone.

Look for Tony Santillan, Lucas Sims, and Luke Weaver to start the 2023 season in Triple-A Louisville. The trio will begin rehab assignments in the Derby City, along with centerfielder Nick Senzel, as they all try to build up their stamina following a rash of injuries that have kept them out of action in recent days.

Without Santillan, Sims, and Weaver, the Reds bullpen is starting to look very thin. Alexis Diaz, Buck Farmer, Ian Gibaut, Reiver Sanmartin, Fernando Cruz, and another left-handed reliever are likely to break camp with the big league club.

But that's only six the eight spots likely to be filled. With two spots still open, the Reds may be looking at Joel Kuhnel or non-roster invitees Derek Law and Hunter Strickland.

These injuries and a lack of depth may force David Bell to insert Cessa into the bullpen and roll with Connor Overton and Brandon Williamson at the backend of the Cincinnati Reds rotation. Bell could also move Overton to the bullpen as a long reliever and select Cessa to occupy the No. 5 starter, but that would limit the team's starting depth in the minor leagues.

With the Reds having two off days during the first nine days of the 2023 season, Cincinnati could devise a clever way to allocate starts during the first couple weeks without necessarily identifying a fifth starter right away.

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