Pitchers and catchers report in three-and-a-half weeks. Let’s say that again: Three-and-a-half-weeks!
There are two pitchers who would seem to be locks to make the Cincinnati Reds rotation heading into 2016. Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias, short of injuries, will take up two of the rotation spots. After those two spots, things are absolutely wide open. When Homer Bailey returns he will join the rotation, but until then there are three spots open in the rotation.
How those three spots shake out, and to a lesser extent, if any of those guys that lose out wind up in the bullpen, is a big story heading into spring training. Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Jon Moscot, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are the likely candidates, at least from the minor league side of things.
Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson are long shots from that group. Neither has any big league experience and Reed has never thrown a pitch in Triple-A. At the same time, they have the two best arms from that group despite the inexperience. Not wanting to start the service time clock could play against them making the team out of spring training, but if either of them is pitching lights out stranger things have happened than bringing one of them north with the team.
In the bullpen it would seem that Tony Cingrani, Jumbo Diaz and JJ Hoover are pretty much in as the only returning players. There are tons of options here, Carlos Contreras, Caleb Cotham, Dayan Diaz, Drew Hayes, Chris O’Grady, JC Ramirez, Kevvius Sampson, Layne Somsen, Pedro Villarreal and Blake Wood are all competing for a spot. That of course doesn’t include the guys who miss out on the rotation who could slide into the bullpen.
Perhaps the most intriguing name for the bullpen isn’t even listed above. While the Reds are looking at Brandon Finnegan as a starter, he’s excelled at times in the bullpen in his short career. If he doesn’t make the rotation, would the Reds use him to fill out the bullpen, or will they send him to Louisville to continue working as a starter?
Another very interesting name is Blake Wood. Who is Blake Wood? He’s a 30-year-old who has pitched in a grand total of 7.2 innings in the big leagues since the 2012 season began, but the right hander has a big time arm that’s capable of reaching triple digits. He’s certainly not young, but he has that Jumbo Diaz feeling to him with big time arm strength and good minor league numbers that could take that step forward and become quite useful.
The 2016 season doesn’t look like it’s going to be an overly good one for the Cincinnati Reds, but if there’s one thing that they can say is that there will be a whole lot of interesting arms to look at in spring training and throughout the season. A lot of them may be new faces to those who don’t follow the minor leagues all that closely, but there are some real arms out there for the team to look at and fill out the pitching staff.