John Fay of the The Enquirer dropped a tantalizing pitching nugget from Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price this morning just minutes after the club made another round of cuts, both of which were very clear signals of the overall direction of the team's pitching depth.
Fay revealed that the club plans to send Tony Cingrani to the bullpen and point Raisel Iglesias towards being a starter, both of which will have serious ripple effects.
Cingrani is going to the bullpen; #Reds will stretch out Iglesias to start. Probably biggest news of spring so far from camp.— John Fay (@johnfayman) March 16, 2015
Cingrani has long been touted as a potential bullpen piece both due to his limited pitch repertoire and left-handedness, and with Sean Marshall nowhere near ready to go, it seems Cingrani's short-term destiny will include taking over the lefty portion of the bullpen. His hyperdependence on his fastball (upwards of 80% of the pitches he throws are fastballs) and lack of dominant secondary stuff has always been a question mark for his ability to stick in the rotation, and it appears that the Reds have seen enough to make that determination already. It's sure to be a blow to Tony since he's stated repeatedly that he wants to be a starter, and coupled with his shoulder issues may well serve as the end of his starts as a Red.
It's also a major red flag for the team's recently employed draft strategy of selecting former college relievers in order to stretch them out into major league starters, which is exactly the path currently being followed by both Michael Lorenzen and Nick Howard.
As for Iglesias, it's a ringing endorsement of his absurd number of different pitches as well as confirmation that the team's 7 year investment in him wasn't solely as a long-term replacement for Aroldis Chapman in the back of the bullpen (should he depart without an extension). The lack of innings on Iglesias' arm will be the single largest hurdle for he and the team to overcome, but his Arizona Fall League performance and the talent he's flashed so far in Goodyear appears to have swayed the decision makers enough already to begin to chart his starting pitcher course.
As for the series of roster cuts, likely the most notable of these cuts is David Holmberg, who we'd presumed was a legitimate candidate for one of the final spots in the Reds big league rotation after the departures of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon and the likelihood of Homer Bailey starting the season on the 15-day DL, but despite Holmy's rather impressive spring, it appears that's not something that was realistically in the cards. To a lesser extent, the same can be said for both Dylan Axelrod and Daniel Corcino, who both appear to be heading to Louisville instead of sticking around to compete for potential bullpen roles in Cincinnati. Each of these moves suggest that Anthony DeSclafani is the leader for the 4th starter's spot and that veterans Paul Maholm and Jason Marquis are duking it out for Bailey's presumptive missed starts to begin the season.
The Reds headed to Goodyear with a number of pitching spots in a state of transition, and with half the moth of March officially in the books, today's moves give a pretty clear signal of where the team's brass has their preferences.