Raisel Iglesias saw his 2015 season end prematurely and his 2016 season start late because of "shoulder fatigue" and a shoulder "strengthening" regimen, so the idea that his talented right shoulder wasn't exactly infallible isn't new to us. Unfortunately, it's also behind why we haven't had a chance to see him pitch since April 25th, and The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan hit us Sunday with the news that he may not start a game the rest of the year.
Raisel Iglesias will work as a reliever when he returns. Targeting around 3 weeks from now. Idea is to protect his shoulder— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) June 5, 2016
Yes, there's certainly a silver lining in this news, since it both presumes Iglesias will return in some capacity this season and suggests his absurdly talented right arm will lend help to the world's worst bullpen. However, it's another damning admission that the overall structure of the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff may be no more solid that the Brent-Spence bridge. Iglesias is owed just shy of $21 million over the next four seasons, with the potential for another arbitration-eligible season in 2021 on said contract, too, and when the Reds signed him out of Cuba several years ago, they were one of the few teams that openly thought he could end up as more than just a reliever.
Well, now that's being called into question.
There's a chance this is just a short term solution, one made with the long term in mind. With Anthony DeSclafani set to make his return to the rotation at the end of the week, Dan Straily a mensch, Brandon Finnegan continuing to perform admirably, and Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed both on the cusp of big league call-ups, the need to rush innings back onto Iglesias' arm at this time isn't exactly there. Jon Moscot is around, John Lamb too, Homer Bailey will be at some point, and the team's ultimate win/loss record in 2016 isn't paramount to this decision making.
There's also the chance this isn't just a temporary solution, and that's what's the most troubling. Michael Lorenzen's forearm/elbow issue has him on the bullpen path already, too, and the popular opinion there is that he'll be there for good. It's something we saw with Tony Cingrani, too, despite his initial great success in the starting rotation. It was the initial worry with Iglesias, it became larger when he didn't throw a competitive pitch in 2013 and just threw 7 innings in 2014, and it's still the one that gets backed up by him never having topped 125 IP across all levels in any season.
Ultimately, the perpetuity of this decision won't be known until this offseason or next spring training when the team will firmly have to decide on roles for 2017, but this isn't exactly a step in the direction of Iglesias making his second consecutive Opening Day start. It is at least a statement that his shoulder isn't in terrible shape, albeit one that admits the team has worries that it could get there with too many more innings.