Raisel Iglesias returned to the Cincinnati Reds prior to Tuesday's game against the Texas Rangers, and he did so in solid fashion. He also did so as a relief option out of the bullpen, something that appears to be a boon to a unit that was on a record-breaking pace for awfulness through the first six or so weeks of the season. In his B.A.R. for The Enquirer today, C. Trent Rosecrans looked at the short-term impact of Iglesias' move to the bullpen, and how that coupled with the likely return today of Michael Lorenzen will help shape the former haggard unit going forward.
The reality is that the flashes of brilliance Iglesias showed as a starter both last year and this year (prior to his shoulder injury) aren't completely a pipe dream from this point forward, as it's still likely he'll get another shot to show he can be durable enough to be a full-time starting pitcher at the big league level. For now, though, multiple inning outings in relief seems the most prudent way to work him back into form without risking the stress of starting, and it's an idea we'll run head-on into more often in the coming months. Brandon Finnegan isn't going to make 33 starts this year - and that's on purpose - so we'll surely see him in a relief role to end the season. It's likely both Cody Reed and eventually Robert Stephenson will have innings limits shut them down late in the year, meaning they too could see relief roles come September.
Given his limited development as a starter, ability to hit 100 mph with his fastball, and experience as a college closer, Michael Lorenzen's path back to the Reds' starting rotation appears to have a little less traction, however. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon mentioned on Twitter yesterday that Alfredo Simon is dealing with a "scapula injury," and he also mentioned on air last night that he expects Simon to hit the 15-day DL to make room for Lorenzen's return today.
Even if Lorenzen returns as a reliever and sticks there for good, the ultimate goal for a 2016 season where the standings mean nothing is to get to Spring Training in 2017 with as many arms as healthy as possible while having seen them pitch in as many potential roles as possible. Add-in Homer Bailey's eventual return, Amir Garrett's continued emergence, and finding five starters for the April 2017 rotation will be easy to do, albeit via a series of tough decisions that are the good kind of problem to have. For now, though, we'll see a bit of experimenting with the Cincinnati pitching staff, and that's probably not a bad problem to have, either.
Speaking of Garrett, he'll be making his AAA debut for the Louisville Bats tonight, as he was promoted when Cody Reed was similarly promoted to the Reds for Saturday's start. Doug Gray took a look at the talented lefty's 2016 season at RedsMinorLeagues.com, noting he's been sporting a career best walk rate so far this year. Garrett is a super interesting prospect case because of his history as a college basketball player, but he's also interesting in a very important other way. Garrett was added to the 40-man roster back in the fall of 2014, which means he's already on his second option this year while not on the big league 25-man roster. That means the team basically has a year less to allow him to marinate than they do with, say, Cody Reed or Robert Stephenson, and given that and that Garrett is a year older than both of those peers, he may well get a shot with the Reds will comparably less time in AAA.
In other news, Zack Cozart reads MLB Trade Rumors. He also said his reconstructed knee "feels great," which makes my aspirations for the Reds' trade deadline moves feel great. FanGraphs' Tony Blengino put together an extensive look into actual vs. predicted production from MLB shortstops based on a variety of factors - exit velocity, K rate, FB vs. GB %, etc. - and he has some interesting comments about Cozart's actual breakout 2016 as compared to what the peripheral numbers suggest. Lots of teams actively look at these types of analyses, especially in regards to players not already in their own organizations, and that makes me feel slightly less great about the Reds' trade deadline moves.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Pirates were locked in a 0-0 tie at one point last night. Then, this:
Just pointing out again that the Pirates, went from 0-0 to down 7-0 in six pitches last night. You can’t do it in less than 4.— David Todd (@DTonPirates) June 22, 2016
That escalated quickly.