- Born April 18, 1990.
- From Freehold, New Jersey; attended Colts Neck High School in Colts Head, New Jersey
- Pitches: Right; Bats: Right
- Oh, and he can bat.
- Drafted in the 22nd round by the Boston Red Sox in 2008, but passed and went to Florida.
- Drafted in the 6th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.
- Traded to the Marlins in 2012 with a whole bunch of other players.
- Traded to the Reds in 2014, along with Chad Wallach, in exchange for Mat Latos.
- Free Agent after 2020.
Anthony DeSclafani had his first fully healthy year last season since his rookie season in 2015. After missing all of April and May back in 2016 with an oblique strain, Disco had a really nice year. Unfortunately, he would miss all of 2017 with a partial tear of his UCL, an injury which he never went under the knife for.
After an aborted comeback in August of that season, the Reds shut him down, focusing on the 2018 season. Unfortunately, again, his 2018 season debut was delayed due to another oblique injury. He would finally pitch again in 2018, in June, after not having pitched in a Major League game for 20 months. It didn’t really go well, as you may expect after not pitching against Major League batters for 20 months.
So, that’s all to say that heading into 2019, not only did we not know what to expect from DeSclafani, but it was also hard to remember what we used to expect from him. All the way back in 2015, as a rookie on a really bad team, he was somewhat of a bright spot. You could see the talent that the Reds saw when they traded away Mat Latos for Disco the previous offseason. When he was finally healthy in 2016, he certainly looked like the next great Reds pitcher. In 20 starts, he allowed more than three runs only four times.
But that was so long ago. Not to mention injuries certainly looked like they were going to be A Thing. But in 2019, DeSclafani made 31 starts (tied for most in his career) with 166.2 IP (second most in his career easily). It seems, for now at least, the injuries are in the rearview.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Reds.
2019 was good for Disco. He got stronger as the year went on, allowing only a 2.39 ERA in his last 50 innings pitched on the year. It was a rough spring, to be sure, but he also pitched a really nice stretch through June and July that featured a 2.94 ERA in 49 innings pitched against the Cardinals, Indians, Astros, Brewers, Cubs, and Rockies. An unfortunate six earned outburst by the Brewers kept that line from looking even stronger.
He came back from all those injuries to rank in the 77th percentile of fastball velocity, so he certainly seems to be back to his old self. His WHIP (1.200), H/9 (8.2), and K/9 (9.0) were all career highs in 2019. A lot of the credit goes to just being healthy again, to be sure, but it’s also a hat tip to Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson. A series of small mechanics adjustments helped Disco throw harder , along with Johnson’s emphasis on guys doing what they do good, better.
If there’s one spot where Disco needs to be better in 2020, it’s allowing the long ball. It was a problem for pitchers around the Major Leagues in 2019. While DeSclafani was better in this area than he was in 2018, his HR/9 (1.6) ranked seventh highest in all of baseball, while the raw number of home runs (29) was 16th most. He gave up a hard hit 38.7% of the time, which ranked all the way in the 29th percentile in baseball. So, while he was less hittable in general, some of the hits went a long way.
DeSclafani will turn 30 years old just a few weeks into the 2020 season, and he’ll do it going into his final year under team control. Another solid season will obviously be good for his bank account, but there’s also some opportunity here for the Reds. Both he and Trevor Bauer will be eligible to hit the free agent market at the season’s conclusion. The Reds signed Wade Miley to a two year contract this offseason to, probably, provide some insurance for that. With Bauer’s inclination to not do anything longer than one year deals, DeSclafani may be someone they could lock into a longer term deal at a decent price.
Disco is somewhat of an X-Factor for the 2020 season. It’s fairly likely that Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray are going to be anywhere from good to really good, while Trevor Bauer has already shown he has Cy Young quality stuff. If Disco takes another step forward being both healthy and good, it takes the rotation from merely good to great.