The Reds received a much needed strong pitching performance from Alfredo Simon in the series finale against the Mets. With Mat Latos close to returning, that outing figures to be Simon's last start with the Reds barring another injury to the starting five. Inserting Simon into the bullpen upon Latos' return as originally planned certainly makes some sense. Simon has shown the ability to be productive in the pen. However, the Reds might be wise to think outside the box: keep Simon in the rotation and send young Tony Cingrani to the pen, even if for just a short period of time.
Cingrani has been impressive and has undoubtedly "earned" a spot in this rotation. And sure, Simon pitched well in New York, but it was only one game. Why would the Reds go with Simon over Cingrani?
Limit Cingrani's Innings
Cingrani was drafted by the Reds in 2011 and went on to start 13 games while throwing 51 innings at rookie ball. In 2012 he played at 3 levels and pitched a total of 151 innings. Last year he pitched 136 innings between the majors and AAA. The Reds are counting on Cingrani to be a major component in this rotation this season and beyond. If the Reds are in the hunt this year, it would surely be disappointing to see Cingrani shelved for the final month of the season with "arm fatigue." Giving Simon a few starts and temporarily putting Cingrani in the pen would help to limit the youngster's innings now and lessen the likelihood that he'll hit a wall late in the season.
Give Parra a Break
Until Sean Marshall and/or Aroldis Chapman return, Manny Parra is the lone lefty in the Reds pen. He's already appeared in 4 of the Reds games this year and tossed 4.2 innings. At some point, Parra will need some help with the southpaw portions of opposing lineups. The Reds are crossing their fingers that Marshall and Chapman will return soon, but until they do Cingrani can fill that roll.
The Reds don't have a lot of pieces to deal should they want to improve the team via trade this season. They are depending on top prospects like Robert Stephenson to be integral members of the major league roster in the very near future. If Simon can string together several strong outings as a starting pitcher, the Reds might have a decent trade chip who is also expendable. Starting pitchers are valuable in any market and given the incredible number of SP's injured across baseball this season, their value may be higher than ever. Simon is making just $1.5 million this season and still under team control in 2015. Any team looking for a boost to their rotation at the deadline would find an inexpensive option in Simon. He has good stuff and has performed admirably out of the Reds pen for two years. Maybe a string of 4-5 impressive starts would be enough to net the Reds a solid return.
Sure, all of this depends on Simon pitching well enough in the rotation to not hurt the team's chances to compete this year. He could easily fall flat on his face his next outing, causing Reds fans to scream, "where's Cingrani!" Nonetheless, I think it would be worth finding out.
What do you think?