LHP Alex Wood was arguably the piece of the Homer Bailey deal with the Dodgers that had the most value to the Reds. Wood (28) has a career 3.29 ERA and 3.49 xFIP with the Dodgers and Braves. He becomes a free agent at the end of this season. But he’s been sidelined with a back injury since spring training. Recent reports indicate Wood is taking early steps to get back on the mound. So the question for our panel of writers is this:

Question: Where does a healthy Alex Wood fit in the Reds pitching plans?

Chris Garber: I think Alex Wood is still a key part of the Reds’ plan, and will slot right into the rotation when he returns. The real question is whether he takes the place of Tyler Mahle, who has options, or Anthony Desclafani, who has clearly been the least effective member of the rotation.

Doug Gray: This is a tough question with a few different layers. Right now, everyone is healthy. But Alex Wood is still a month away from being ready to pitch this season and all of that could change. With that said, even if everyone is healthy the first place to look would be Anthony DeSclafani, who is struggling this season. His ERA sits at 4.70 and he continues to give up home runs at an incredibly high rate. There’s time for him to turn it around, but it needs to start the next time out and keep going. In the bullpen there’s possibly some more room. Of course, who knows what the bullpen will look like a month from now? This team swaps guys in and out every 2 weeks. One of the lefties that have had some struggles – Peralta or Duke, could be on the outside looking in.

Nick Kirby: This “problem” will probably take care of itself. The Reds have been fortunate that the five starters they began the season with are still healthy, but the chances that keeps up for much longer is slim. However, if Wood comes back and everyone is still healthy, I would put Wood in the bullpen until a spot opens up. Wood has the experience and success as a reliever which none of the Reds current starters have. Wood would certainly bolster the bullpen and it might help him stay healthy. If DeSclafani doesn’t turn it around there could certainly be a case made for moving him to the pen or AAA, but everyone has really solidified themselves, including Tyler Mahle.

Jason Linden: I think DeSclafani should go to the bullpen. He’s been the least good of the starters, probably isn’t part of the longterm pictures, and hasn’t exactly pitched a full season recently. I don’t know if that’s what WILL happen. I think there’s a good chance Mahle goes down, which is silly. Anyway, one of those two things is what will happen. I don’t see any other possible options.

Steve Mancuso: Assuming everyone is healthy, I’d send Tanner Roark to the bullpen and put Alex Wood in the starting rotation. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray should be locks for the starting five. That leaves Tanner Roark and Anthony DeSclafani. This is one of those situations where looking at ERA is misleading. Instead, the two composite metrics I look at for evaluating pitchers are xFIP and SIERA. DeSclafani has been better in both of those. Roark’s xFIP is 4.50 while Anthony DeSclafani’s is 4.48. Disco has an edge of 4.22 to 4.49 in SIERA and has better K% and BB% than Roark. Beyond that, Roark has bullpen experience at the major league level. When he was acquired by the Reds this winter, Roark said he wouldn’t mind any role, including the bullpen. Roark becomes a free agent in 2020 while DeSclafani is under Reds control through 2020.

17 Responses

  1. Kyle

    With Wood slated to return in July, I think he will take Roark’s place when he is eventually traded. Lucas Sims can fill in temporarily if there is another setback. Then if he does well when he is here, I would offer him a qualifying offer to “prove it”. If he accepts, cool. If not, whatever.

  2. Steven Ross

    Steve, you know far more than me but aren ‘t Roark’s ERA and FIP far better than Disco’s? Not even close. It’s a push on xFIP. Disco’s better in SIERA but not enough to justify moving Roark to the bullpen. By the time Wood returns, it might not be an issue but just curious. Thanks.

    • Bill J

      Another thing Disco’s HR rate is 3 times higher than Roark this year.

  3. Eric

    First: All y’all’s examinations of this topic are quite salient – this is one of the reasons why I LOVE reading not only the articles here, but the comments, as well.

    Steve, you have got me fully on board with xFIP over ERA (any of y’all who haven’t read Steve’s series on pitching stats needs to go back and do that – fascinating stuff!) but because of Disco’s propensity for giving up home runs, (14 so far, compared with twelve for Mahle – all other Reds pitchers are at six or fewer), I’d like to know what xFIP and SIERA look like if we just isolate the first-through-third innings. My thinking here is that early dingers end up putting the Reds in a hole that they might not otherwise be in with a different starter on the mound.

    Maybe it’s time to pilot the “opener” with Disco’s starts? I dunno…

    At any rate, I’m really excited to see how the dynamic changes with Wood on the hill. Easing him back into MLB play out of the bullpen, if he’s agreeable, would be even better.

  4. Brian S Jolley

    First of all, I would try hard to trade Roark and/or DeSclafani. I do not think they are good enough to be starters on the next contending Red’s team. Wood might be however, and his trade value is low because of fragility. I will be disappointed (but not surprised) if they send Mahle down because of service time/options or whatever. They need to see what they have in Wood to decide on the future of the rotation. They know what they have with Roark and DeSclafani, which are decent #5 starters on a .500 team. If they can’t find any takers to trade them, then stick one in the bullpen. I would rather see Roark stay in the rotation because he is more durable than DeSclafani and less likely to get knocked out of the game early.

    • Mark Lang

      I disagree – I think Roark is the perfect 4 or 5 guy – he gives you 5 or 6 competitive innings every time out. If he’s your teams true 4 or 5 guy, then pitching isn’t your team’s problem.

      • Lwblogger2

        Agree with you 100% … He was a solid 4 option in a very good Nats’ rotation and was the guy who they could count on to stay healthy. He’s gone after the season and I’m not sure I’d try to extend him but that could change if I’m not hearing good return value if I try to trade him at the deadline (if Reds out of it)

  5. Jordan Barhorst

    Presumably Roark needs to be traded by September anyway, right? Why not just pull the trigger a little early? His value is likely the highest it’s ever been currently. Get a piece or two back in exchange for opening up a slot in the rotation.

  6. Jefferson Green

    I like getting Wood into the rotation ASAP in order to get a strong performer maximum innings to impact games for the benefit of the Reds’ immediate record. I also like trying to establish some trade value if the immediate record becomes a secondary consideration.
    I prefer to leave Disco and Mahle in the rotation to continue their development (TM especially, but AD could return to his previous solid production with some tweaks to his pitching). Roark is not part of next year’s team, so if the chance to get Wood into the rotation actually comes to fruition, I would prefer to see him traded for some kind of value (but know it will not be much). If TR cannot be traded, the bull pen would be a place he could perform for this team.

    • Steven

      Simple solution trade Roark here in the next few weeks.

      • David

        Yeah, unfortunately (because I like Roark), that is probably the most logical outcome.
        Wood will not have many starts (if any) before the trading deadline, and would likely fetch about nothing.
        The bitter end of the much ballyhooed trade with the Dodgers, which has kind of been a big failure.
        I don’t blame Dick Williams for trying, because a lot of us thought it was a good idea at the time. Just hasn’t worked out

  7. C Holbert

    With the anemic status of the offense, I think they need to have the SP in the rotation that have kept them the games the best. They keep waiting for Disco to “regain” the form he had. He has only had one year of ERA under 4.00 and he only pitched part of the year. He is a 4/5 at best and the Reds have to give Mahle the opportunity to compete on the major level. He is young, 24, and look what has happened to Castillo with the every fifth day opportunity. He has kept them in the games, with the exception of a couple starts, and seems to be on his game each time out. Disco has proven he can be counted on as a lower end starter, Mahle has the chance to be a 2, they should run him out there every fifth day and watch that maturation. Wood also has something that is different that forces moves form their opponents. He throws from the left side, and the reds have not seen an effective LH starter for a while.

    • Jefferson Green

      I agree that Disco has struggled a bit this year, which stands out on a staff that has been so good. I’d also argue that Disco has a ceiling as a #2 starter. Throwing out his year with a 3.23 ERA as a partial year (but still 20 starts and 123 innings pitched), his previous year he had a 4.05 ERA (with slightly better xFIP, which is a much better predictor of future performance), and ranked 51st in all of baseball that year in that metric. With 30 teams, 51st puts him comfortably in the top 2 for many teams. He may never quite hit that #2 ceiling, but it exists (as it does for Mahle).

      • Indy Red Man

        4.05 with a 1.35 whip might be a #3 if you pitch for the Rockies, Rangers, or Orioles. I will agree with you that Disco can still be a serviceable to decent pitcher! His arm his sound and he’s hitting 94-95 almost every time out, but its his slider imo. When he controls it and has some bite on it then he’s tough!!

        5 starts with a 0.97 combined era & 1 hr allowed
        All the rest of this starts : Not that good:)

        On the personal side….he works hard. He’s in good shape and competes! He’s no sure thing, but where else are we going to find a potentially solid #3? At the same time if he got hot and then dealt him & DD for solid youngsters then I couldn’t argue. Disco is 29 and the Reds are atleast 2 years away

  8. Eric

    …and in an even-MORE-interesting development, they were both ejected…ALONG with Clint Hurdle!

    It’s almost like…the league…MIGHT…be catching ON to something!!!

  9. Indy Red Man

    They better move fast on Roark. A 1.41 whip doesn’t equal 3.74? Not in GABP it doesn’t? He’d allowed 2 hrs until his last 2 starts. Thats a complete fluke. I like the guys heart and he competes, but he’s a 4.60 era 5th starter type that will be 33 in October. They did get Suarez for Simon and Roark is better then Simon was. Who knows?

    Alex Wood? As a fantasy baseball old-timer….loved the guy. Everyone would look for someone flashier and I would grab him late every year! 16-3 with a 2.72 just 2 years ago!! He’s still lost some zip on his heater and gabp isn’t Dodger Stadium. We’ll see? I’m sort of afraid he has a couple of good months and the Reds sign him for 3 years. We’ll see? To me the Reds are 2-3 years away atleast, so investing too much in 29-30 years old is dicey at best. I would pay Scooter>DD and maybe SS-Iggy. Look at dealing anyone else over 27 except Suarez.