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The Red Report - Tony Cingrani

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The lone lefty in the bullpen?

This truly makes it look like he has a forearm growing out of the back of his head.
This truly makes it look like he has a forearm growing out of the back of his head.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

Position: Pitcher 
Bats: Left  Throws: Left  Swims: Left  Fishes: Left  High-Fives: Left  Uses Toothpicks: Left
Height: 6' 4", Weight: 210 lb.

Anthony Michael Cingrani was born on July 5th, 1989 in Evergreen, Illinois, which is a different place entirely from Evergreen, Colorado. Now that you know he was born 'Anthony Michael,' I employ you to call him 'Hall' from this point forward.

He and his family grew up as fans of the Chicago White Sox. Extensive research into their DNA thanks to Ancestry.com has traced the origin of their fandom directly back to Jack McDowell's sweet 1990's goatee.

Is spunky, and likes his oatmeal lumpy.

Was teammates at Rice University with Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, as well as a guy named Boogie Anagnostou, which is wonderful.

Is a prime proponent and benefactor of the High Baseball Socks of America foundation, which may or may not actually be true.

Organizational Information

Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 3rd round of the 2011 amateur draft
Debut: September 9, 2012 (Age 23.066, 17,920th in MLB history) vs. HOU (3.0 IP, 1 H, 5 K, 0 BB, 1 ER) 
Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 2013 season 
2017 Contract Status: Signed through 2017, 1 yr/$1.83M (17) 
Service Time (01/2017): 3.088, Arb Eligible: 2018, Free Agent: 2020

Transactions

June 7, 2011: Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 3rd round of the 2011 amateur draft. Player signed June 13, 2011.

Career Stats

Scouting Report

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Cingrani has thrown 4,843 pitches in his MLB career - 3,933 of them have been four-seam fastballs.

As you can see, his overall average velocities have trended up as he's moved to being a reliever exclusively. He's also completely quit throwing his cutter and curveball, and at some point during the 2016 season began throwing his slider much, much harder than he had at any other point in his career.  It's worth noting that the 94.2 mph average velocity on his four-seamer he saw in 2016 was a full 2.4 mph faster than it was in 2015, and a full 2.2 mph faster than in any other big league season in his career.

It's interesting to note that the uptick in his slider's velocity didn't exactly make it more of a swing and miss pitch; in fact, the whiff percentage on that pitch declined significantly as its average velocity spiked. I wonder how hard he'll be throwing it this upcoming season.


That's a heavier load of pitches thrown to the 3B side of the field, which would be both down and in to RH hitters. His second most heavy zone is that 5.40% right down the gut, however, which may explain why he's struggled at times over the most recent seasons.

2016 Projections

G GS IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP WAR
Steamer 55 0 55.0 9.84 4.40 3.84 4.20 0.2
ZiPS 56 0 51.7 8.88 5.40 4.53 4.66 -0.1

There's a decent bit of difference between these two projection systems. On a positive note, both seem his K/9 moving back towards the 10.0 per 9 inning mark it was prior to the 7.0 per 9 innings it was in 2016.

Outlook

It seems like eons ago when Tony Cingrani led the National League - and was 2nd in all of baseball to only Yu Darvish - in K/9 among all pitchers who threw at least 100 innings during the 2013 season. That year, of course, was the one that saw Cingrani claim a regular spot in the Reds' rotation, post a 130 ERA+, stay relatively healthy, and flash the promise that had many of us hoping he'd be a cog on the mound for years to come. Of course, shoulder injuries, an increasing inability to find the strike zone, and a move to the bullpen later, and now Cingrani has reached his arbitration years with us still wondering what he can bring to the table.

Over his last three years, he's gone 4-16 with a 4.85 FIP, 1.53 WHIP, 4.62 ERA, and 5.5 BB/9 in 159.2 IP, at times being asked to be the team's closer, at times being shipped back to Louisville. Yet somehow he's still found a way to have his name in pen on the projected Opening Day roster, despite none of those numbers and most of that tale suggesting there may be better options out there somewhere.

Of all the players who look like locks to be on the active roster for this year, I'm not sure there's anyone else whose expected production is more up in the air than Cingrani. As he's seemingly abandoned expanding his pitch repertoire in favor of again leaning heavily on just his four-seam fastball, how he'll be able to effectively navigate through big league lineups will depend on his deceptive delivery, one that admittedly induces plenty of swings and misses. However, the only way that'll be effective is if he throws balls over the plate more often than he has in the past, since hitters have become accustomed to the idea of him walking them if they're patient enough.

With Drew Storen on board and both Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias entrenched in high-leverage roles, Cingrani may not get the 8th and 9th inning work he did last year, but as the team's lone projected lefty in the bullpen he should still be leaned on rather heavily. Of course, he hasn't exactly owned lefties the way you'd hope from a typical lefty in the bullpen, which makes his role that much murkier.

2017 will be a season of great importance for Cingrani, since it'll be the platform for his 2nd arbitration year - the year when players finally begin to get expensive enough to be expendable. He'll make a shade under $2 million this year, which is still cheap enough to hope he can turn things around from his previous three years of replacement level production, but if his numbers don't improve, it'll be hard to imagine the Reds being willing to shell out $3.5 to $4 million for him again in 2018. No pressure, or anything.