Mat Latos is scheduled to make another rehab start tonight and reports indicate he’ll be asked to throw 100 pitches. If he feels healthy afterward, it may be his final start before rejoining the Reds. If that’s the case, whose spot will he take in the rotation when he does come back? The choices appear to be Alfredo Simon and Tony Cingrani.

The arguments for Latos replacing Cingrani:

1. Simon has been more effective than Cingrani so far this year, measured by ERA, FIP and xFIP. Cingrani’s strikeout rate is lower than last year and his walk rate is considerably higher. He’s had a hard time developing pitches beyond his fastball. He’s even had trouble this year with consistent command of the fastball.

2. Latos and Cingrani are pitching on the same night, so it would be easy to drop Latos right into that slot.

3. Cingrani could provide the Reds a high-leverage LH arm in the bullpen. Cingrani was a dominant closer in college so he’s used to the bullpen role. His pitch portfolio might be better suited to the bullpen. He could lengthen the number of quality arms in the bullpen. See Chapman, Aroldis.

4. The Reds LH situational relievers have struggled this year. Cingrani could replace Sean Marshall, who might need a trip to the DL. Even Manny Parra has had issues with his control. His walk rate is up from 8% in 2013 to 12% in 2014.

The arguments for Latos replacing Simon:

1. Simon has never pitched an entire season as a starter. It has been three seasons since he’s thrown more than 100 innings. If he continues to pitch as a starter, he could eventually wear down his arm, which might preclude a switch to the bullpen. If he moves to the bullpen now, his innings total for the season would be reasonable.

2. Simon’s underlying numbers (strikeout rate, BABIP, etc.) indicate he’s not really pitching as well as his ERA indicates. The metrics (FIP, xFIP, SIERA) that historically have done a better job of predicting ERA than a pitcher’s current ERA, all point to a major increase in Simon’s ERA. In two of Simon’s last five outings, he’s given up 5 runs in 3 innings.

3. Simon’s flexibility as long reliever is needed to stabilize the bullpen.

4. Cingrani had a promising, if overachieving, partial season as a starter in 2013. He is the Reds sole left-handed starter. The Reds are counting on him as a future low-cost starter. Once he moves to the bullpen, it may become impossible to move him out. See Chapman, Aroldis.

One compromise solution might be to keep Simon in the rotation until the All-Star break, then move him to the bullpen. In the meanwhile, Cingrani stabilizes the high-leverage lefty side of the bullpen while Parra and Marshall develop more consistency. At some point, Cingrani moves back to the rotation for the rest of the season.

What say you, Nation?

36 Responses

  1. Kurt Frost

    Simon has to go into him the bullpen. I’m afraid he’s pitching on borrowed time at this point.

    • Drew

      So why not ride him till he implodes? As has been said numerous time SP is more valuable the RP, so why not maximize what Simon can do for this team until he can’t.

      • greenmtred

        Steve makes the good point that wearing Simon out could make him useless in the bullpen, as well. The pen has been better lately, but the guys in the middle, in particular, are not inspiring confidence. A starter is evidently more important than a relief pitcher, but the pen in total is more important than any starter, and if the Reds are going be reborn as contenders this year, they need a solid pen.

  2. zaglamir

    The realist in me wants to throw Simon back to the pen. His numbers (and the ol’ eye test for the past three outings) all point to a guy who’s pitching beyond his mechanics. However, the last situation you describe, where Cingrani stabilizes the bullpen for leverage situations (the weakest part of the club so far this year) while Simon continues to pitch against his borrowed time would probably be best for the club.

    Simply put, the Simon the numbers are pointing toward and this year’s edition of Cingrani aren’t that different. However, they do have different skill sets. The best use of their respective skill sets while the bullpen is stabilizing is to let Cingrani be the guy who comes in with 2 on and 1 out in the 7th. Simon as a bullpen guy is always going to be better suited to starting an inning with a clean slate.

  3. Davis Stuns Goliath

    Although Cingrani might have closed in college, he’s struggled in the first inning this year. If banished to the bullpen, he’d need to be sharp immediately. It’s been tough to watch him struggle this year, as it does no good having someone in your rotation who can’t consistently pitch past the 5th — but I think you have to take the long view and look at him as a potential piece of your rotation for years to come. If that wasn’t the case, Arroyo should have been re-upped.

    Simon’s absence from the bullpen definitely hurt in April. In May, things started to stabilize, but Price still reaches for certain tools too often and/or at the wrong times. I also think Simon’s pitching on borrowed time, as some of his recent starts have implied.

    I’d stick with Tony for now and hope he gets it together soon.

  4. Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

    If the Reds had someone decent that could basically just eat innings and keep the game close I’d say move them both to the bullpen for now. I’m afraid Simon will implode at any point and until Cingrani can develop a second pitch and pitch more effectively I feel he will have issues as well. Unfortunately the Reds don’t really have other options beyond Cingrani or Simon that I’m aware of.

  5. WVRedlegs

    Keep running Simon out there every fifth day. Maximize the value on his $1.5M salary. He’ll be a third year arbitration player this winter for next year before becoming a FA. And he will certainly get a hefty increase for 2015. Keep him in the rotation, but limit him to 6 innings. Then after the all-star break, shop him for maximum return in a trade.
    Cingrani goes back to the rotation when this trade occurs.
    Then in the draft tomorrow night, the Reds could draft UL’s Nick Burdi with the #19 pick. He is said to be the most MLB ready player, or the one who will probably reach the ML first from this draft. Maybe as early as the end of this season. He can be another power arm (low-cost) in the bullpen. Who knows how much Simon will get in arbitration next year? It’d be safe to say in the $8M-$10M range if he remains a starter. The Reds have options in the way they could use Burdi. In the pen in different roles which could bring on a trade or demotion for Ondrusek, groom him to become Chapman’s successor, or groom him for the rotation. His fastball has hit 102-103 this year at Louisville. If the Reds were to select Burdi, it’d more than just spending a 1st round pick on a reliever.

    • hof13

      This assumes he is available when the Reds pick. What if he has already been chosen by someone else?

      • WVRedlegs

        He could be. but he is projected to be picked anywhere from #22 to #30. Most likely to Detroit at #23.

    • Drew

      Reds need to address other issues then pitching in the draft. Our lack of quality replacments in both SS and 2nd base need to be addressed first.

  6. CTRedsFan

    If the Reds long-term plan is to keep both Simon and Cingrani, then leave Cingrani in the rotation, to continue his development, and return Simon to the bullpen, where he will give Price a fourth option at the back of the pen. However, the best reason to leave Simon in the rotation, and one not mentioned above, is to try and leverage his success as a starter and trade him near the deadline. As a reliever Simon would probably not have a lot of trade value, however, if he continues to pitch well as a starter, for the next 6 weeks or so, he may have some trade value. After trading Simon, Cingrani could then be returned to the rotation.

  7. ToddAlmighty

    You can’t put Cingrani in the bullpen. When 2015 ends, there are only going to be two starters under contract for the Reds. Homer Bailey and Tony Cingrani. DON’T stunt this kid’s development by sending him to the bullpen. If you have to do something with him, then send him to Louisville.

    I still think Simon should be traded because he’ll probably never be worth more than he currently is, but if that’s not a choice, then he should be sent to the bullpen. The innings will prove to be too much. Last year he pitched 87.2 innings. The year before that he pitched 61 innings. He’s already at 68.1 innings and June JUST started.

    Cingrani threw 136 innings last year in an injury shortened year. The year before he threw 151 innings. We KNOW he’s stretched out enough to throw 170-180 if need be.

    • Drew

      What leads you to believe that only Tony and Homer will be undercontract to the Reds at the end of the 2015 season?

      • ToddAlmighty

        I am speaking from a present situation standpoint, since this is a present-ish situation decision. After 2015, Cueto, Latos, Leake, and Simon are all slated to be free agents. Currently speaking, only Bailey and Cingrani will be under team control.

        That means Cingrani needs to keep developing as a starting pitcher because he’ll almost certainly be relied upon to be one, which means not putting him in the bullpen and stunting potential growth.

    • battlingbill

      I think you might be onto something here. Trade him while numbers still look amazing . . . We are on borrowed time with him now.

  8. Drew

    this is a no brainer. You ride the hottest hand. You demote Tony to AAA to continue to work on his skill as a starter. YOU put Mat in his spot and continue on with Simon also. IF or when Simon begins to cool off you can then put him in the pen and call Tony back up to take his spot. Any other move is just foolish.

    • charlottencredsfan

      I wouldn’t go as far as any other move is foolish but I do like your idea the best. Tony is going to have to develop decent secondary pitches to reach his potential as a starter but I’m not so sure he couldn’t be a closer at some point. My dream would be that Chappy becomes a starter and TC becomes the closer. With AC developing more confidence in his off-speed pitches, things could get interesting.

      Steve’s idea is also very solid too.

      • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

        Many of us would love it if Chapman was moved into the rotation but I just never see that happening for as long as he’s a Red. It would maximize his talent for sure but I feel like that ship has sailed. Maybe if Cingrani doesn’t develop any other pitchers the Reds should consider shopping Chapman this off season and slot Cingrani into the closer role.

  9. Dale Pearl

    I say split the starts of simon and cingrani. First week simon next week cingrani on the off week one can work the bullpen. Gives the reds greatest flexibility and both simon and cingrani the opportunity increase arm strength and to work on additional pitches. Marshalll needs to go away or to the DL martinez or diaz could take his slot

  10. Shchi Cossack

    OK, the Old Cossack will be the one to go there…

    For all the reasons Steve listed above, Cingrani needs to go to the bullpen until he can get at least one plus pitch besides a fastball that he can throw for a strike consistently.

    For all the reasons Steve listed above, Simon needs to go to the bullpen to preserve his effectiveness as a pitcher for 2014 and beyond. I personally think Simon has a future as a starting pitcher, but not as a front of the rotation starter. Simon is completely stretched out now and will continue to log significant innings in a long/medium relief role for 2014. Next season, Simon will be in a position to compete for a starting role with Cingrani and any minor league arms the Reds deem major-league ready.

    Latos replaces Lutz on the 25 man roster, leaving the team loaded with pitching and getting Lutz to AAA for consistent AB.

    So here we go…once again. With Cingrani and Simon in the bullpen and Broxton pitching like the closer he was hired to be, move Chapman to the rotation, finally. Chapman can be stretched out fairly quickly and the extra arm in the bullpen will help cover while Chapman is stretched out. With the season nearing 40% completion, Chapman will have plenty of innings in his arm to finish the season in the rotation, even if the Reds make the playoffs (unlikely). I know Chapman has previously professed his desire to be a closer, but he has now demonstrated the ability to throw 3 pitches for strikes, nasty strikes and I think the spring training episode may have knocked some sense into him (bad joke intended, but just a bad joke so don’t overreact). Really Chapman may have a different perspective now than before his injury and I believe Bryan has significant influence to be persuasive, even with Chapman. Pena could help in this regard too as Chapman’s personal catcher to assist with the changover.

    Oh well, there it is, but I really think this may be the best option in this situation all the way around.

    • Drew

      Moving Chapman to the rotation is never going to happen, and thus we need to accept where he is and where he is most comfortable. I also don’t see how a pithcer developes a second pitch out in the bullpen. Put him in Louisville to work with Ted Powers on that secondary pitch.

      • Shchi Cossack

        This is the 2nd time the stars have crossed and the heavens have opened since that ship has sailed. The Old Cossack is simply not a person to ever say never. I believe the 2014 season is a lost cause, but again I will never say never. If the seaon is lost and the Reds become sellers, Chapman must be on the sell list unless he is in the rotation. If Chapman is in the rotation, then his value probably skyrockets and the Reds may simply receive an offer they can’t refuse.

        If Cingrani goes to the bullpen, he would be needed in the bullpen only until Chapman is extended. At that time, the bullpen would have a surplus, providing ample opportunity for Cingrani to work on his off pitches or be optioned to AAA to work on his off pitches as a starter.

    • Steve Mancuso

      This made me smile, just to read it. Why not put it out there since we’re discussing “should” not “will” do. It’s so sad that this option has receded so far from the possible that it didn’t even cross my mind when writing the post. And, of course, it’s absolutely the thing to do.

    • WVRedlegs

      I like it, if it were to happen. But letting Pena catch Chapman too would then reduce Mesoraco to catching 60% of the time. That would have to necessitate a second position for Mesoraco to keep his bat in the lineup. What then? Mesoraco will have to get himself an outfielders glove. I am still haunted by the vision of Alonso kicking the ball around the left field corner in Wrigley Field.

  11. Josh Mohr

    Latos to the rotation, Simon stays and Cingrani to the BP in order to stabilize the LH side. Marshall looks done and Parra is struggling.

    Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Simon
    Chapman, Broxton, LeCure, Hoover, Cingrani, Parra and Marshall.

  12. ohiojimw

    An alternative I haven’t seen mentioned is Simón to the pen, Jair Jurrgens to the roatation,and Cingrani to AAA to finish the job of learning to be a starter.

  13. AnnapolisHoosier

    Cingrani stays in the rotation, Simon to the pen.

  14. dradg

    Gotta be Simon. If he has only 60-100 or so innings left in his arm, we need him for long relief and to fill in for another injury that’s bound to happen.

    • redmountain

      Suggestions? The Reds have two things in the minors that they have depth in -pitcher and OF. If you trade for a LF you begin to block Winkler, Earvin, Lutz, etc. Plus, who has a surplus LF that is affordable and also effective. It would make more sense to find a surplus IF that could go to AAA and develop. Ultimately, the decision is not ours and the season is far from over. I still think this club is going to be fine when everyone is healthy.

  15. docmike

    I honestly don’t see how this is even a debate. The only real option is Simon to the pen. I have posted on this before, but here goes…

    Simon has pitched 68 innings so far, a little over 2 months into the season. If he stayed in the rotation all year, at his current rate he would end up with between 190-200 innings. He threw 87 innings last year, and hIs previous career high in innings is 115. Obviously, you can’t jump him up that many this year, so leaving him as a starter all year is not even on the table.

    So far can he go? If Simon makes one more start then goes to the pen, he would have about 75 innings as a starter. Then, since he averaged about 14-15 innings per month last year as a reliever, I would figure on about 50 innings from mid-June on. That would put him at about 125 for the year.

    Can he go more than that? I don’t know. The “leave him in the rotation until the All-Star break” option would give him 7 more starts from now. If you figure around 6 innings per start, that would put him at 110 innings by mid-July. Can he pitch another 35 innings in the second half out of the pen, which would put him at 145 for the year? If so, then this becomes a feasible option.

    My personal opinion is to put him back in the bullpen when Latos comes back. For Simon, I think that would allow him to pitch just enough innings to not overstress his arm. He immediately shores up the middle relief, and you would also have him as a 6th starter, which we will need for that doubleheader with the Cubs in July. Cingrani stays as the 5th starter, where continues to develop his secondary pitches while giving you an expected 5-6 innings each start.

  16. jon stidham

    Alfredo Simons TRADE VALUE will never be higher. TRADE HIM NOW! Get some prospects or a player for him now. Cingrani is the future and Simon has more value on the trade market than as a long reliever.

    • redmountain

      I would argue that Travieso, Stephenson, Lorenzen and others in High A, and AA are the future for the Reds pitching staff. If this is true, then does it matter who gets traded as much as who or what?

    • docmike

      I would be fine with trading him if we can get a young 2nd or SS prospect back. But I don’t want to deal him just for the sake of dealing, and I suspect that other teams are also waiting for the other shoe to drop on Simon. We know there’s no way he can keep this up all season, and I’m sure the other clubs know this, too.

      I just don’t think we would get back as much as some on here think we would. BUt if someone wants to overpay, then by all means let them.

  17. Kyle Farmer

    Enjoyed reading this thread, but I don’t think we’re going to have to worry about it any time soon. Latos was pulled from his start last night. He looked FAR from ready in Columbus last Friday and now he’s got a leg injury. My guess it’s from compensating for the arm injury. I still think this ends up with Tommy John surgery.

  18. Steve Schoenbaechler

    If Homer isn’t careful, it may just end up being him. I could see the scenario of Latos coming back, sending Cingrani down, all the main rotation guys keep their normal performances up they have been having this season, then come trade deadline, the Reds decide to trade Homer off, preferably for some hitting but possibly for some prospect(s) as well, bringing up Cingrani to finish the season.

    Sorry, I just don’t think we should have been paying Homer that much money.