Since signing with the Reds out of Cuba in June of 2014, Raisel Iglesias has been one of our favorite topics of conversation here at the Nation.

From almost the very second I laid eyes on Iglesias, I felt like he was the most talented pitcher in the organization. With good reason: Iglesias has been nothing short of outstanding in his 55 appearances over two seasons with the Redlegs. I like calling him “Bronson Arroyo with stuff,” as Iglesias has at least three plus pitches, and he changes arm angles like Arroyo did in his heyday.

There is no doubt in my mind that Iglesias could be a #1 starter in the big leagues, given his talent. For a long time, we debated the merits of starter vs. reliever for Iglesias (see here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).

At this point, it’s become increasingly clear to everyone that Iglesias’ shoulder is just not going to be able to handle the workload of a starting pitching. Again, I can’t stress how much that bums me out. This guy is the real deal, an elite talent.

However, given that Iglesias seems destined for the bullpen, it seems like a great opportunity for Bryan Price and the Reds to get creative with Raisel’s usage. If he’s going to be a reliever anyway, why can’t he be the best reliever on earth?

Something that happened at our Redleg Nation/Red Reporter meetup last September got all of us dreaming about inventive ways to use Iglesias out of the bullpen. What if he could be a 120-inning reliever, as Steve Mancuso dreamed:

A little more than a month later, my ears perked up at the Q&A session with the Reds front office staff when Nick Krall floated the notion that a reliever like Raisel Iglesais, if he pitched 120 innings, might be nearly as valuable as a starting pitcher. It’s one thing for an uncredentialed writer (me) to spitball a new idea. It’s another level of seriousness when a major league assistant general manager does it.

At 120 innings (or even 90), relievers will still be worth less than full-time starters because of math. But confining their innings to high-leverage situations would bring the values closer together. A certain percentage of the starter’s innings are with leads or deficits of three runs or greater.

If Raisel Iglesias’ balky shoulder or Michael Lorenzen’s pitch portfolio mean one or both are destined for the bullpen, then any number of innings beyond the typical modern reliever role would be beneficial to the club. 90 innings from above-average pitchers have more value than 65. While you’re thinking about it, throw this on the mounting pile of arguments against the restrictive, Dusty Baker-style closer role for the best arm in the bullpen.

I dunno, just the thought of using Iglesias (and Lorenzen, I guess, though he should be a starter!) in a role that is somewhat closer to what we saw from managers in the 2016 playoffs — that is, creative usage — excites me.

Alas, Raisel Iglesias continues to have trouble staying healthy. Over the weekend, we saw this brief report in the Enquirer:

RHP Raisel Iglesias didn’t pitch in his scheduled minor-league game on Saturday because of what Price labeled “stiffness in his elbow.” Price said it was “not a major concern.”

Stiffness in his elbow. “Not a major concern.” We’ve heard that one before. (Most recently with Anthony DeSclafani, about whom there was more reason to be concerned than initially reported by Price. Before that, it was Homer Bailey, who was just fine until he ended up having surgery.)


Fast forward to Monday, when C. Trent reported this on Iglesias:

In addition to his sore right elbow, Raisel Iglesias’ back is also bothering him. He was scheduled to be examined on Monday, Price said.

“He should be OK,” Price said. “We’re going to do a bit more of a thorough once-over today with both the elbow and back. There’s no reason to slow him down completely.”

Sore right elbow. Back problems.

Double yikes.

It’s certainly conceivable that I’m making more of this than I should. This could just be a minor issue that many pitchers deal with during the course of spring training. There’s no hint that anything more serious is afoot than has been reported.

On the other hand, given Iglesias’ injury history — combined with the recent bad news about fellow hurlers DeSclafani and Bailey — forgive me if I’m a little jumpy about any reports of his ill health. Raisel can be a very important piece of the next good Reds team, and even moreso if he’s healthy enough to justify pitching him more (and in more high-leverage situations) than the average stud relief pitcher.

What’s up with Raisel Iglesias? That’s a question that we’ll be keeping a keen eye on over the next couple of weeks.

23 Responses

  1. Jordan Barhorst

    Sounds like we should pool all of our money together and buy everyone on the 40-man some memory foam. Or just request they use a mattress when sleeping, and not just the box springs.

  2. sandman

    What’s starting to eat at me is the level of concern (or rather, the lack thereof) that Reds Brass (I guess Price is included in that) are showing over the injuries. They’re constantly downplaying the injuries and their level of concern. You can’t tell me that they aren’t concerned, if about nothing else, than the sheer number of injuries (and their pesky reoccurrence over the last few yrs or so) to key pieces of this club’s future.

    • Chuck Schick

      Are they suppose to stand at the podium screaming and crying over the injuries? I would love to see Price rolling on the ground like Nancy Kerrigan yelling “why me, why me”?

      Perhaps they should just put a camera in Dick Williams’s office so everyone knows everything in real time.

      • sandman

        Chuck/Greenmtred, of course I don’t expect them to throw temper-tantrums. Don’t be ridiculous. But they shouldn’t sugar coat everything. Don’t assume we’re stupid. Disco, Herrera, Hamilton (just to name a few) all have injury histories. We’re not stupid so don’t treat us like children and gloss over everything.

  3. Bill Lack

    In addition to the history of the Reds medical staff….ugh.

    • Eric The Red

      2012 was the year they butchered Joey Votto’s knee. We don’t know if Homer or Disco or Cueto or Marshall or Madson or Mesoraco could have been handled differently, but we certainly know Votto’s injury was mismanaged.

  4. Brandon (@BSmitty25039)

    If the Reds lose Iglesias in addition to DeSclafani…ugh. The Bailey injury didn’t sting as much because I wasn’t expecting much from him this year, but I felt Disco was on the verge of becoming a rock solid #2 starter.

    Injuries suck the fun out of sports. Without the shoulder problems, Iglesias seemed like a good bet to become the ace we need. Hopefully whatever problems he’s having now are only minor and don’t keep him out.

  5. Jim Walker

    Another ~$30M in sunken cost with a continuing ??? after his name. Predictive sports science/ medicine can’t get here soon enough for the Reds.

    • Jim Walker

      I believe we are on the cusp of an advanced generation of what I’ll call a “prediagnostic” era. The combined efforts of sports science and sports medicine are going to be able to identify those players whose genetics and mechanics predispose them to particular repetitive motion related injuries. The process by which these injuries develop will become known allowing earlier (preventive and mitigating) interventions.

      To me this is both very exciting and very scary at the same time. The exciting side is obvious. The scary side is just as with DNA testing for genes related to specific conditions and illnesses in the general population, what are the ethics which need to be figured out?

  6. I-71_Exile

    If we’ve learning one thing over the years, the Reds are going to downplay any and every injury. It’s what they do. Just because they say something is “nothing serious” doesn’t mean that they believe it. I suspect they are taking Raisel’s elbow soreness VERY seriously.

    • I-71_Exile

      Why do I think that? Precisely because of the investment involved. The Reds have a lot more invested in their players than you or I do. I don’t know when they did the MRI on Disco nor the extenuating circumstances surrounding it. A throwing program starts with short distance soft toss anyway which puts about zero strain the arm but will reveal a more serious idea because the pain won’t subside. It’s not like he jumped to 95 mph heaters and made the problem worse.

    • Bill Lack

      And they seem to play with a short roster (with day to day injuries that last a week, 10 days, 2 weeks) more than any team I’ve ever seen.

      • Jordan Barhorst

        You’re absolutely right, but I’d think this will change with the 10-day DL replacing the 15-day.

  7. IndyRedMan

    I give up with these injuries? Of course the Cubs starters all roll out 200ip every year with no problems. Disco & Bailey sidetracked…..Lorenzen and Iglesias are in the prime of their career and already limited to relief. It feels like even if the Reds put together 4-5 outstanding starters at some point that 2 or 3 of them wouldn’t hold up for long. Medical care…scouting…what is it? I know Jake Arrieta is really into yoga type exercise and stretching…couldn’t hurt?

    • Simon Cowell

      stretching and working out was a major part of Nolan Ryan’s success. It does make you wonder if some pitchers need a better workout routine.

  8. Brandon (@BSmitty25039)

    Ken Rosenthal says the Rays are shopping Erasmo Ramirez. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year, but as a starter in 2015, he posted a 3.75 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 2.20 BB/9, and 6.94 K/9 in 163.1 IP. He seems like a nice fit for the Reds.

  9. docmike

    When it rains it pours.

    When it comes to the Reds and injuries, it seems like the skies are always cloudy…

  10. Hokie Red

    Does anyone really believe that Price can use his bullpen creative like the “2016 playoffs”? Don’t won’t to throw Price under the bus, but he has never shown that he could be creative.

    • VaRedsFan

      You are able to burn your guys in playoff scenarios because you don’t have to worry about the the repercussions of the long regular season

  11. Chad Jones

    With all these pitching injuries I think it’s about time for the Reds to reevaluate their pitching training program. I mean other teams have injuries, but none seem to have as many as we did. It gets old and frustrating every spring reading about pitching injuries.

  12. VaRedsFan

    Iggy has made it known that if he pitches 2 innings that he will need at least 2 days rest afterwards