Your Cincinnati Reds lost to the Milwaukee Brewers today by a score of 6-3. Adam Duvall hit a two-run home run, Jose Peraza tripled, and Tyler Mahle pitched two more very impressive innings in his quest to win a spot in the Reds Opening Day rotation. A couple of young guys (Jackson Stephens and Jimmy Herget) surrendered three runs apiece, and Billy Hamilton is still leading off and still batting 0-for-the-spring.

Forget all that. None of it matters. Only one thing that happened today really matters, in terms of Cincinnati’s potential to improve significantly on last season’s performance:

Anthony DeSclafani pitched. And he pitched well: two innings pitched, no runs allowed on two bloop hits, two strikeouts. And he felt good afterward.

Disco is healthy, and this is great news. Because it’s been a long time:

Tuesday marked a huge day for Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani. He last faced Major League hitters on Sept. 28, 2016, throwing six innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Cardinals.

Since then, DeSclafani, 27, missed all of 2017 with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He threw three games of Minor League ball for a total of 6 2/3 innings in July and August.

So two innings of scoreless Cactus League ball in a 6-3 loss to the Brewers was a long time coming.

“It felt good to be in a big league Spring Training environment and just to throw my pitches and compete,” DeSclafani said. “It’s definitely been a while. There’s a few balls I threw today that I was like, ‘Dang, those look like good pitches,’ but I guess I’m back with the big league strike zone instead of the instructional league strike zone.”

Read the rest of Mark Sheldon’s report. John Fay also did a deep dive into DeSclafani’s return that you should read. I certainly share Bryan Price’s sentiments:

“It warms all of our hearts that he was back on the mound in competition,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He picked up right where he left off before his elbow got sore. That was a great day for all of us — certainly no more than Anthony himself. I know he was fired up to be out there.”

Sure, there’s a long way to go before we can be certain that DeSclafani is fully back and ready to claim his spot in the top half of the Reds rotation. But today was certainly encouraging. What if Disco can be the pitcher he was in 2016, when he was 26 years old and went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA (130 ERA+) in 123.1 innings? Or the year before, when DeSclafani tossed 184.2 league-average innings as a rookie for the Redlegs?

What if he’s even better? Having a full season of Luis Castillo and a fully healthy Anthony DeSclafani at the top of the starting rotation suddenly makes the starting corps look a lot better, eh?

I know, I know, it’s spring and I’m dreaming. But DeSclafani gave me some hope today. After the last couple of seasons, I’ll take all the hope I can get.

16 Responses

  1. TomN

    A close second to Disco’s start in my mind is Mahle’s good start (this game and the last). We could have the makings of a very good staff which would be a BIG improvement over last year. Exciting!

    • Chad Dotson

      Agree completely. I always feel like I’m much higher on Tyler Mahle than most. I’m sure that’s because he doesn’t have the stuff of a lot of other guys. But sheesh, that guy just gets hitters out everywhere he goes.

      I see him as a more talented Mike Leake. And that’s a great guy to have on a staff.

  2. kmartin

    You forgot to mention Homer. A healthy Disco and Homer and a developing Luis makes for a solid three/fifths of the rotation.

    • JB

      At this point, I would take #4 starter production out of Homer. If he could just be league average or even a tinge worse but pitch 140ish innings, that would be awesome.

      I’m still intrigued by the suggestion of Homer in the bullpen. I think his stuff would play up AND it would allow for another one of our promising young guys to step into a starting role this year. I wonder how Homer would take that “demotion” though.

      • redsfan2018

        Why would you put a pitcher getting paid 20 million a year into the bullpen? I would start him so that you see more of him and get more bang for your buck.

      • citizen54

        Ya no reason to give on Reed because of two innings in his first appearance in spring training. He is working on a new delivery so things aren’t going to happen overnight.

      • JB

        I would hope the Reds don’t make a decision based solely on salary. The reality is that Homer probably won’t be a part of the future. If Homer is pitching like he did last year and someone like, say Mahle or Garrett, is pitching well in AAA, I’d rather see Mahle or Garrett Brought up to start because they’ll be around for the next 5-6 years.

        This is the same argument that people have been getting on Price for: playing veterans over young guys. If Homer’s not performing all that well and you have a young guy ready (of which we have 3 or 4), Give the young guy the playing time so we can move the rebuild along.

  3. GreatRedLegsFan

    Any news on cuts? Looking for next Sunday news…

  4. Keith

    The more I look at it, the more excited I get for the year. Castillo and Disco performing at their historical levels, with Homer pitching like a #3, is a solid top 3. I think the Reds can cobble together a competitive 4th and 5th starter out of the rookies, leaving me optimistic about this team being competitive.

  5. davemoorewvu

    Just curious… Who does everyone think will be batting leadoff on Opening Day? BHam can’t do it but I’m afraid that Price will leave him there.

    • Phil

      Scooter has a career 809 ops and 115 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Those numbers in just 2017 were a 930 ops and 138 wRC+. I don’t see any real problem with having him near the top of the line up.

      I also don’t have a problem with Hamilton in the line up against right-handed starters. His 330 obp and 82 wRC+ against right-handers over the last 2 seasons is tolerable given his defensive and base-running ability. I do hope he will be moved off of the lead off spot though in favor of Winker.

      Winker, Votto, Scooter, Schebler, Suarez, Barnhart, Peraza, Pitcher, Hamilton sounds like a good opening day line up to me (assuming Senzel doesn’t make the opening day roster at SS)

  6. Reaganspad

    Well, you don’t lose your position due to injury, right?

    Does that make DeSclafani the opening day starter 2018?

    • Chad Dotson

      I’d be fine with that. But all things being equal, I imagine that Luis Castillo will be the Opening Day starter.

  7. Ernie Howerton

    Billy is one of the best centerfielder that I’ve seen in a long,long,time.We cannot win with him batting leadoff and the bosses have to see that.

    • Phil

      Billy Hamilton over the last 2 years has hit 220/252/301 against left-handed pitching. 266/330/353 against right-handers. You can live with him starting against right-handed starters but should never start against lefties.