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The Red Report - Raisel Iglesias

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A closer look at the next Cincinnati "closer."

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

Position: Pitcher

Bats: Sometimes Throws: Often

A product of January 4th, 1990, Raisel Iglesias is entering the 2017 season as a now-veteran 27 year old.

The talented righty was the Opening Day starter for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016, which seems like a world away just eleven months removed from said occasion, now that he’s pretty well entrenched as the biggest, most bad-ass arm in the bullpen.

At a shade over six feet tall and a hair over one-hundred and eighty pounds, Iglesias is basically my size, which both frightens and enlightens me. It also makes me that much more disappointed that I never managed to develop seventeen pitches with nine different arm angles.

Originally from Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, one can only hope that the Iglesias can manage to channel his inner youth and keep mesmerizing hitters going forward the way he has during his first three years as a Red.

Organizational Information

Iglesias was signed to a 7 year, $27 million contract back in 2014, though that complicatedly included the 2014 season in which he did not throw a professional pitch.

He's set to earn a bit over $4.2 million in 2017, and is under team control through the 2020 season. However, his contract stipulates that he'll be able to opt-out of his guaranteed money and go through the arbitration process once eligible, should he choose, which will make things interesting after the 2017 season. The Reds will still have team control over him - he's not set for free agency, or anything - but it'll be worth watching how his cause is either helped or hurt by the potential 100 inning relief season envisioned by Bryan Price in 2017.

Career Stats

2016 Pitch F/X

Want to know what Iglesias threw at hitters based on which side of the plate they hit? Based on what the count was? Based on which time through the order it was that he faced them?

Well, start your inquiry here, and tab through it all to see just how absurdly diverse his pitch repertoire really is.

Interested in how his pitch usage has varied by month in the big leagues? Well...

A whiff count chart that shows just how devastating his slider can be? Here ya go...

Guy's a pitch-hurling savant.  Don't you dare try to get a hit off of him.

2017 Projections

Source IP ERA FIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 fWAR
Depth Charts 65.0 3.23 3.45 1.17 10 and change a bit over 2 1 why
Steamer 65.0 3.45 3.45 1.17 9 or so more than 2 1 why
Fans 107.0 2.69 3.05 1.10 10-ish less than 3 1 why
ZiPS 65.0 3.05 3.45 1.17 10-y 2 plus some 1 why

Maybe it's just me getting old, but these all started looking so manufactured and fart-induced that I couldn't continue to fill them out accordingly. Look, projecting Iglesias based on his career path - one that saw him sit out almost two entire years during defection and has since seen him yo-yo'd from the rotation to the bullpen - is meaningless, especially given the third role in three years he's expected to assume.

He's damn valuable, and will be when healthy. Just know that.

Outlook

It appears that Iglesias, last year's Opening Day starter, may well never start another game for the Cincinnati Reds. And yes, that can be chalked up as a bummer in many different ways, depending upon your angle.

That said, the Reds aren't dropping the hammer on his starting potential because of preconceived notions, subjective role-projections, or based on a hunch; rather, it's the shoulder issue and fatigue that has plagued him since signing that has largely dictated that decision, and it's one that seems relatively prudent given both his successes in short stints in the big leagues and the guaranteed money left on his contract.

Iglesias won't be the ace of the Cincinnati staff, but that hardly means he's not without the chance to be absurdly valueable.

Andrew Miller was insanely valuable to the Cleveland Indians in his deployment during the second half of 2016 and the MLB Playoffs last year. Dellin Betances racked up nearly 3 fWAR in 2016 despite never starting a game and rarely being tasked with being New York's closer. If Iglesias is truly given that kind of role - one where he faces the opposition's heart of the order the last time it's supposed to be faced every game - he'll be a steal given his current peak age and current contract, and it's that kind of progressive thinking that has him as a prime petri dish in the grand baseball experiment.

Should that not work out - or should the team's management get cold feet with being creative - he'll do no worse than falling back into the "traditional" closer's role for these Reds, and he'll be damn successful there, too. Fact is, Raisel Iglesias is one of the more talented pitchers the Cincinnati Reds have laid claim to in the last few decades, and odds are that he'll be successful wherever they deploy him provided that he's healthy. And, well, keeping him healthy is M.O. priority, which is why he's about to be in the role just described rather than 200 IP ace.

Still, that's an arm worth being excited about, and one that will probably dazzle more than any other on the roster come 2017.