This week’s respondents are Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Jim Walker, Tom Mitsoff, and Chad Dotson.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for Anthony DeSclafani? Worst-case?

Matt: I think a realistic best case scenario for Disco is that he can get back on the field for an extended amount of time and at least show his stuff that he flashed in 2016 that got Reds fans so hopeful for his future. Worst case scenario, which unfortunately seems a bit more likely than the best-case, is that he cannot stay healthy and does not perform, falling victim to the recent curse of Reds pitching development. Maybe this is just me being pessimistic, but I am not holding my breath that we will ever see him live up to the expectations he built up prior to the injuries.

Steve: Other than a handful of minor league starts, DeSclafani was sidelined all of 2017. He was coming off a strong 2016 season, ready to lead the Reds starting rotation. But DeSclafani strained (partially tore) his ulnar collateral ligament in spring training. The Reds chose a non-surgical route. DeSclafani began to rehab in August and left a start at Dayton with the dreaded forearm discomfort. Two separate doctor opinions confirmed the injury was inflammation (tendonitis) not structural damage. He turns 28 in April.

Upside for 2018: DeSclafani makes 25 starts and pitches 150+ innings. He maintains his career strikeout and walk rates. He puts up #2 or more likely #3 numbers for the Reds.

Downside: The elbow issues return and require surgery.

Jim: About now, Anthony DeSclafani might feel he has been living his worst-case scenario; and, I would be inclined to agree. Following a breakout season in 2015, he missed half of 2016 (muscular issue) but looked to be back on track at season’s end only to subsequently miss all of 2017 with a different and likely more serious health issue (elbow woes). With his service time having crossed the arbitration eligible threshold, his lack of durability looms as career defining, possibly even career threatening. Disco’s best-case scenario seems simple to me. He gets to the mound at the MLB level and stays there. His full season performance in 2015 and half year in 2016 have established he is a solid mid to top of the rotation starter when he is healthy. The only real question is can he get and stay healthy. Until the health question is resolved, we can’t really begin to assess just how high his ceiling could be.

Tom: Anthony DeSclafani could be the most important player for the Reds in 2018. When he has been healthy, he has looked like a potential number two starter in a good rotation. It seems like forever ago, but he was 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA in a 2016 season abbreviated by an oblique injury that has almost seems like the new rotator cuff, in terms of its frequency among Reds pitchers. Last season he had the frayed, instead of torn, elbow ligament. So the best case would be for him to return to his 2016 form, and perhaps even continue to develop. But that is unlikely for a pitcher who has missed 75 percent of the past two seasons. His innings are likely to be limited in some way.

The worst case would be for that frayed UCL to give way and, for all intents and purposes, finish his career with the Reds, at least.

Chad: The worst-case scenario is easy: it’s what we saw last year from DeSclafani. Injuries that don’t heal quickly and make you worry about his long-term durability.

The best-case scenario is easy to envision, if you try. DeSclafani will be just 27 years old this year. He was brilliant in 2016, when he was healthy, before the oblique injury. If his elbow is healthy in 2018, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a top-shelf starter, even an ace. He did throw 184 innings in the big leagues as a 25 year-old; if the Reds can get 184+ out of DeSclafani next year, I think everyone will be very happy with the results. I’m not willing to bet the ranch on that one, but my fingers are crossed.

12 Responses

  1. Ethan L

    Worst case: Injured again. Or if he pitches, he has no gas left and his arm is a wet noodle.
    Best case: 200+ innings and ranks as the 1st or 2nd best starter on the squad.

  2. Sliotar

    Good discussion on DeSclafani.

    Assuming Disco pitches 180 or so innings in 2018 with any reasonable success….

    Do the Reds try and sign him to a Corey Kluber-lite extension, buying out his last 2 arbitration years and his prime free agent years?

    If not, with the kid pitchers developing, would he be a prime candidate to trade next winter, to fill holes and contend?

    With starting pitching at such a premium, Disco’s agent would probably say to play out 2020, no extension, then go to free agency. He might even say play out ’19 and ’20, if Disco knows his arm is not in jeopardy.

  3. IndyRedMan

    Disco? I don’t think he’s ever had “ace” stuff like a Castillo, but every contender needs solid #2-#3 types as well! A guy like Michael Wacca looked like he was on the verge of stardom and has kind of just turned into mediocre. The Reds really can’t afford that with Disco? He’s still only 27? Best case…like WV said…maybe 3.50ish with 30+ starts and worse case he’s done (like Andrew Luck?) Most likely….decent 4th starter type? He’s kind of slight of build and that doesn’t scream longevity? Roy Oswalt was his size and he lasted forever, but everyone throws harder now.

  4. KDJ

    At one point last season, seven of the top (in my ranking) nine Reds pitchers were on the DL. Ridiculous! Seven of the top nine. It makes 2012 (when five good to great pitchers started 161 games) seem like a fantasy. In five years, we have seen what is likely the two extremes in starting pitching. Here’s hoping that 2018 – 2020 are closer to 2012 than 2017. Get well soon, guys. We want to see you on the mound.

  5. Bill

    I have to agree with Matt, the worst case is more probable than best case. I look for both Disco & Bailey to be back on the IR list before the All-Star game.

  6. Ron Payne

    Best case: He becomes a solid #3 starter with an ERA under 4.00 and wins 12-14 games.
    Worst case: He doesn’t make it through spring training.

  7. Ron Payne

    I agree with you on Jared Hughes. I would also consider Drew Smyly, even though he may not be ready until June or July,

  8. bouwills

    Forgive my ignorance, but why not consider moving DeSclafani to the bullpen? The same move was made for Iglesias (& to a lesser extent with Lorenzen). Best case scenario, he’s on the active roster & healthy. Worst case scenario, the DL. Utilize Anthony in high-leverage situations in the first half of the season & reconsider a starter role in the 2nd half. TJ surgery for DeSclafani would just be another kick in the teeth to this rebuild.

  9. cfd3000

    This feels like the Groundhog Day question. Homer Bailey. Anthony DeSclafani. Brandon Finnegan. Healthy or not healthy? It’s a cruel game to care about. It’s not just “can he throw strikes”? Or “will he learn to hit the breaking ball”? It is also, heartbreakingly, “will he be healthy”? Who freakin’ knows? I think a lot of observers, including me at times, dismissed Joey Votto’s goal of starting all 162 games in 2017 as an oddity. But as with so many details about the game of baseball I am fairly confident Votto knows what matters better than just about anyone, ever. How good could the Reds be if Bailey, Disco and Finnegan are all healthy all year? Put that in my stocking please.

  10. Steven Ross

    Best case: doesn’t start the season on the DL.
    Worst Case: starts the season the DL and never comes off.

  11. gusnwally

    Leaving shortly for Redsfest. If you happen to see an old gray head with a Reds tee shirt KLUSZEWSKI 18. Tap me on the shoulder and say Hi.