Leaked Story: Cingrani Optioned

USA TODAY Sports

The writing was on the wall for Tony Cingrani when Mike Leake was listed as Tuesday's scheduled starter. Today he was officially optioned to AAA Louisville.

It's really amazing how far this franchise has come in the last 8-10 years.

Write this same script, with the same statistics, the same results, and the starting rotation from 2005, and the folk tale we'd tell our kids becomes much, much larger than the short story we just witnessed. Imagine, if you will, a Top 100 prospect who has age-appropriately dominated the minors to the tune of a 1.62 ERA and 11.8 K/9 over 211 innings being called up to be a part of a rotation that featured no fewer than 5 different starters who got at least 4 starts and still managed ERAs over 6.00.

Six point zero zero.

Luke Hudson, Elizardo Ramirez, Ramon Ortiz, Paul Wilson...

...Randy Keisler? Randy Keisler. Randy freakin' Keisler.

Had Tony Cingrani set fire to the 2005 Reds baseball world with a 3.27 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 11.2 K/9 the way he did in 2013, he'd have had the ball in his hands on the Great American Ball Park mound every 5 days with the biggest crowds of the week behind him going nuts. It would've been electric to watch there be a pitching talent emerge from a miserable development system both unscathed and worthy of the hype.

Tony Cingrani doesn't have a hoverboard or a DeLorean, though. Instead, he's got a bus ticket to head down to Louisville and work with Ted Power and Corky Miller on using less fastballs and more offspeed pitches. He'll work on keeping his pitch counts down, getting deeper into games, and he'll be doing it in front of crowds of a couple thousand and with a very, very different number 19 playing 1B behind him.

The Reds rotation is deep and immensely talented. They have young and old, power and finesse, leg kicks and dreadlocks, tattoos and would-be Silver Slugger awards. What they also have is a track record, and the Reds trusted that over the promise of Cingrani in keeping Mike Leake instead of him.

Is it the right call? It's certainly not a wrong call, if that makes any sense. It's the conservative call, though, and it's the one we should've expected all along. Those kind of calls are why Aroldis Chapman is the closer and why Sean Marshall has been MIA since having a sore shoulder. Those kind of calls are also why the Reds are reigning NL Central division champs and sit 8 games over .500, though.

Neftali Soto was called up in place of Cingrani, and he'll likely get his first cup of coffee with a pinch-hit appearance today or tomorrow before catching a flight back to Louisville in exchange for Johnny Cueto's return on Monday. I'd tell you to get excited about Soto, but you probably shouldn't. Just hold your excitement for Cueto's return. That'll be worth it.

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