Back on March 2nd of this year, the soreness in Anthony DeSclafani’s right elbow was just that. Soreness. The Cincinnati Reds’ best pitcher had been temporarily shut down from throwing during the early portion of spring training in Goodyear, but it was on that glorious day that he was finally cleared to resume throwing, as The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan relayed from team doctor Tim Kremchek.
Dr. Kremcheck on Disco: "We expect to get him throwing today or tomorrow. I hope to get him back to the mound in six days, seven days. "— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) March 2, 2017
It’s now June 9th, otherwise the nicest day of the year, and start of a weekend that will see both Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan making rehab starts with AA Pensacola as they near comebacks from injuries that have them currently on the 60-day DL. DeSclafani, however, saw that soreness re-diagnosed as a sprained Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his elbow, and is still a way off, as Bryan Price told The Enquirer’s Tom Groeschen just yesterday. And now the more realistic timeline is that he may be back sometime in August.
It’s a pretty gutting blow to those of us who kept holding out that he’d return in June, or before the All Star Game, or at some point in July. For particular shin-kicking symmetry, it’s news that we get almost exactly one year to the date from when we found out his long awaited 2016 return from an oblique injury - one that lasted much longer than initially expected - would come on June 10th, 2016 against the Oakland Athletics.
For the 2017 Reds, it means an extra handful of would-be starts from the best starter they’ve got will go by the wayside in a season where they’ve seen everything go right offensively, defensively, and in the bullpen while the collective starting rotation has been abysmal. It also pretty well dictates that Disco, who’ll be arbitration eligible in from next year on, won’t be a guy you can count on for a full season of innings in 2018, as he threw just 123.1 in 2016 and will be luck to reach 60 IP if and when he’s back on the mound later this year.
For a team that has long targeted 2018 as the year in which they fully emerge from the rebuild to contend again, that’s extremely unfortunate.
DeSclafani, who was valued at 3.0 bWAR alone in just those 123.1 IP in 2017, is clearly a guy the team has penciled in at the front end of their rotation for the near future, yet is one whose status has been hard to count on due to repeated, lingering injury issues. While he’s surely going to have a prominent spot in the rotation whenever he’s healthy, it is worth wondering if the Reds are increasingly feeling the need to go outside the organization to bolster their pitching staff for next year given the lack of a clear, dependable front man.
For Disco, hopefully this is the last and final status update, and the next time we hear about him will be for him being 100% and on rehab stint the way Bailey and Finnegan are now.