It hasn’t been the healthiest of starts to 2017 for the pitching depth of the Cincinnati Reds. Their highest paid starter, Homer Bailey, didn’t even make it to the start of Spring Training before needing elbow surgery. Their best pitcher over the last two years, Anthony DeSclafani, made it a blink into camp at Goodyear before an elbow injury shelved him, too. Brandon Finnegan has a wonky shoulder, Jon Moscot’s still out from his Tommy John surgery last year, Tim Adleman just got bounced early from a start with neck pain, and Tony Cingrani’s bum oblique sent him to the DL weeks ago.
And that’s just at the big league level.
Down in the minors, promising prospect Sal Romano was shut down with a shoulder issue shortly after making his big league debut, and former 1st round pick Nick Travieso hasn’t yet thrown an in-game pitch yet this year. Both, however, appear firmly on the comeback trail as of today, as they both revealed to us all over at twitter dot com.
Feels good to be back on the mound⚾️ more than ready to get back— Sal Romano (@salromano14) May 16, 2017
(h/t to Doug Gray of Reds Minor Leagues for Twitter-sleuthing those onto my timeline.)
Romano surged into the Cincinnati rotation thanks to the previous laundry list of injuries to his peers, to be sure, but also due to the kind of dominance across the minors since the middle of 2016 that had scouts league-wide taking notice. He posted a 1.93 ERA over his final 70 IP with AA Pensacola (with an impressive 62/8 K/BB in that span), flashed a 98 mph fastball in Cactus League play, and got the call-up to the bigs after allowing just 2 ER in his first 13 innings with AAA Louisville. Given the decimated nature of the Reds’ staff at the moment, a healthy Romano will surely figure into the rotation’s plans at some point again this year if he can come back and show his shoulder is 100% again.
As for Travieso, he’s been recovering from a shoulder issue since last September, really. As MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon noted back in February, a scapula problem was causing shoulder impingement, which is a technical way to describe something akin to dropping quarters in a blender and hitting puree. Back then, it didn’t sound as if we’d still be waiting for him to get back on the mound in mid-May, but that’s exactly where we are. Still just 23 years old, Travieso has a lot to prove to live up to that 1st round pedigree, but he’ll likely get the chance to do so with Louisville in the near future, which is certainly a step in the right direction for all parties involved.
Over at The Enquirer, Zach Buchanan focused yesterday’s BAR on which member(s) of the Cincinnati Reds would represent the club in this year’s All Star Game. Zack Cozart topped Buchanan’s list of probables, which makes sense given his great start to the year and the relative performance of both his peers at his position league-wide and how the cards may be stacked against some of his teammates at more loaded positions. Still, I think Raisel Iglesias is the most likely Red to make the cut given how relievers are selected, his start to the season, and his reputation among the managers across the league, but Cozart just might give Cincinnati more than one representative at the summer classic.
Today, Buchanan gave us a rundown of how the bevy of former Reds on other big league clubs have performed so far in 2017.
Former 1st round draftee Alex Blandino has struggled overall offensively in 2017, hitting just .208 with a .302 slugging percentage in 124 PA. However, he’s still managed to get on base at a stellar .374 clip so far, fueled by an impressive 19.4% walk rate. How impressive? That 19.4% mark ties him for the 9th best walk rate out of some 1,000 minor leaguers across all leagues - Mexican League included. Maybe he and Zack Cozart worked on being patient middle-infielders together in Spring Training.
Finally, Eno Sarris checked in with another great Reds-related article, this time exploring the greater significance of Bronson Arroyo’s leg-kick. The 40 year old’s windup is among the most unique in the game, specifically because his ability to give an A+ Rockette impersonation. Turns out, that leg kick has a pretty unique origin, one that Arroyo himself talked about to Sarris for the piece.