Reiver Sanmartin's struggles suggest a move to the Reds bullpen is imminent

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Reiver Sanmartin walks to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Reiver Sanmartin walks to the dugout. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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I know, it's just one game. But this feels like an inevitable transition, right? Reiver Sanmartin couldn't get out of the third inning during last night's 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Once the starting rotation is fully healthy, it would seem that the Cincinnati Reds will move Sanmartin to the bullpen.

Sanmartin could not control the strike zone last night. The 25-year-old issued five free passes, and every fan throughout Reds Country knows that walks will haunt. Sanmartin pitched 2.1 innings, allowed five runs on four hits and struck out just two batters.

Sanmartin looked the part of a starting pitcher near the end of last season when he started two games, eclipsed 11 innings, and boasted a 1.54 ERA. The problem was, both of those starts came versus the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. Last night provided a dose of reality against the defending champions.

Reiver Sanmartin should be moved to the Reds' bullpen.

A lot of questions are going to be answered in the coming weeks, but this feels fairly certain. Mike Minor worked a simulated game yesterday and is on track to return the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation very soon. It's looking like Luis Castillo's return might be delayed until closer to the end of April.

The Reds rotation currently has just four pitchers, but all signs point to Nick Lodolo making his major league debut next Wednesday. Fellow first-rounder Hunter Greene will be introduced to the big leagues on Sunday, and Vladimir Gutierrez is toeing the rubber today in Game 3 versus the Braves.

When Minor is deemed healthy and returns from the Injured List, he will be part of the rotation. Being that he pitched in a simulated game on the same day as Sanmartin's big league start might be very revealing. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Charlie Goldsmith, Minor threw 30 pitches. Fans might see Minor return as early as April 19th at San Diego.

While at Triple-A Louisville last season, Reiver Sanmartin made eight appearances out of the Bats' bullpen. As a reliever, Sanmartin allowed just one earned run over 13.2 innings of work. Sanmartin recorded 14 strikeouts out of the bullpen and allowed just three walks.

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Seeing as how the Cincinnati Reds have just one left-handed reliever, it only makes sense for Sanmartin to join Justin Wilson and the bullpen. Hopefully Sanmartin is given another opportunity before Mike Minor returns to the active roster, but this feels like a foregone conclusion.