Mark Sheldon just reported that the Reds have adjusted their starting rotation for the upcoming road trip. What hints, if any, does the switch imply for the Reds’ plans when Johnny Cueto returns? Let the wild (and fun) speculation begin. The Reds’ rotation originally was:

Tuesday (Miami): Homer Bailey

Wednesday (Miami): Mike Leake

Thursday (Miami): Tony Cingrani

Friday (Philly): Mat Latos

Saturday (Philly): Bronson Arroyo

Sunday (Philly): Homer Bailey

Today’s announced tweak has Cingrani and Latos switching places. Cingrani will pitch Friday night Philly and Mat Latos moves up to Thursday’s game in Miami.

The switch might be designed to take advantage of Cingrani’s left-handedness against the heart of the Phillies lineup of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. On the other hand, Citizen Bank Park is a much harder place to pitch than Miami’s vacant stadium. Why move the rookie into a hostile venue?

The switch might be related to the catcher rotation, but I doubt it. Latos and Leake would be throwing back to back and those are the two pitchers that Devin Mesoraco will likely catch. It means Hanigan would have to catch three games in a row.

Mark Sheldon wonders whether the switch is related to Johnny Cueto’s return. Cueto is scheduled to pitch tomorrow (Tuesday) night at Dayton, meaning he could return Sunday in Philadelphia. That’s Homer Bailey’s current slot and I think we can safely assume Cueto isn’t actually going to replace Bailey.

As Sheldon points out, Cueto could slide into Monday’s start – replacing Mike Leake – in New York against the Mets. That would reset the top of the rotation with Cueto ahead of Latos. The rotation would then be Cueto, Latos, Cingrani,  Arroyo and Bailey.

On the other hand, Cueto could take Leake’s place and then Leake moves back to take Cingrani’s next start, and the left-hander gets sent back to AAA. That would still accomplish the goal of re-setting the rotation with Cueto and Latos at the top.

Of course, all this speculation assumes Johnny Cueto makes it through his rehab start without further problems. And maybe the switch could mean nothing more than wanting to keep Latos on his regular schedule or some other quirky reason to move Cingrani back.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 46 Comments

  1. I think it has everything to do with Latos. With all the off days recently, Latos has not been on his 5 day plan which the brass might think led to his issues in the last start.

  2. I think TC is right. When Cueto returns, Cingrani will go back to AAA. He needs to work on some issues. One, being he is getting the ball up in the strike zone too often. Two, is better pitch efficiency. By the time he pitches 5 innings, he is at or near 100 pitches. All in all, he has done a good job. I am one of the biggest Cingrani fans, but I think he needs just a little more spit-shine polish to him.

    • @WVRedlegs:

      I agree with this, and it has been my biggest criticism of Cingrani: He is an inefficient pitcher, just like Cueto and Bailey (and Volquez) were just a few years ago, so all of his starts, no matter how good the other stats look, will end up taxing the bullpen.

      I like Cingrani a lot and think he has a bright future, but he does need a bit more refining and I don’t think doing it with the Reds is the right place. In the past, the Reds pitchers had to “learn on the job” because there was no one else to fill their spots.

      Now, the Reds have the luxury of having a pretty deep rotation and can allow their up and coming pitchers to properly develop instead of throwing them to the wolves and causing havoc like what happened with Bailey. We should count ourselves lucky that, after all that happened, Bailey seems to have turned out pretty OK.

      • @CI3J:

        But the path Bailey took was not the ideal one. Cingrani can follow that ideal, arriving on the Reds fully developed and armed with the tools to succeed.

        He’s an exciting prospect, and he probably could do alright if he stayed up all year, but a little patience would probably go a long way to making the difference between “alright” and “exceptional”.

        • @CI3J: Cingrani is nothing like Bailey, looking at their minor league preparation. Bailey was absolutely not ready to come to the majors based on his pitiful K/BB ratio in the higher minors. Cingrani has blown away batters at those levels.

          There’s an argument for sending Cingrani down, but it’s not Homer Bailey’s career path.

        • @CI3J: Moreover, in the majors, Bailey’s pitch counts weren’t high because he K’d a lot of people. It was because he stunk up the joint. For example, a 5.6 K/9 AND a 5.6 BB/9 in 2007.

          Cingrani’s pitch counts aren’t high because of BBs, and they aren’t high because of his K’s. They’re high because he’s having too many deep counts. It’s a lot different.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: And I would say his high pitch counts could be because he throws the fastball most of the time. He has a good fastball but if hitters know it is coming,they can foul a few off. A couple extra pitches per batter adds up over 5 innings. Homer’s pitching took off when he started throwing a splitter. It was something different, an out pitch. I don’t think Cingrani will be efficient until he develops/uses another pitch that can throw off the timing of batters.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Homer was 21 when he got called up. Cingrani is 23.

          • @Steve Mancuso: Exactly. I’m not saying Cingrani is better than Bailey, or will be. It’s too early to know that.

            I’m saying that (1) Bailey was brought up when he clearly wasn’t ready, and (2) comparisons of Cingrani’s inefficiency to Bailey are off base.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Yes, good insights.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

            Very nice insight, but I never said the reason why anyone’s pitch count is high. The bottom line is, for whatever reason, Cingrani, like Bailey when he was younger, is throwing too many pitches.

            That’s all I said, and that is where they are similar. Everything else is entirely of your device.

    • @WVRedlegs: That’s simply not true about the 100 pitches through 5. It’s true about half the time. (2 out of 4 games, yes, and the 5th, I’m not entirely sure.)

      • @WVRedlegs: That’s simply not true about the 100 pitches through 5.It’s true about half the time.(2 out of 4 games, yes, and the 5th, I’m not entirely sure.)

        I think we are the only ones that see the true value in Cingrani. I don’t even think it’s close that Cingrani should stay in the rotation over Leake.

        • @AnnapolisHoosier: “Just wait until Cingrani starts stinking up the joint…then he’ll really tax the bullpen”.

          It does seem kind of funny sounding, doesn’t it?

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

        The fifth game he was at ~90 pitches in the fourth inning when he came out. The 4th inning.

        • @WVRedlegs: Uhh, no. I counted that game in your favor. I’m referring to the 6 IP, 110 pitches game vs the Nats. I don’t know where he was after 5 IP. In any case, I feel your comment was an exaggeration.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

            No. not so much. Maybe just a wee little bit. For arguments sake though:

            Bailey: 42.1 IP, 642 pitches thrown, 6.0 Innings per game, 15.2 pitches per inning.
            Arroyo: 52.2IP, 717 P, 6.5IPG, 13.7 PPI.
            Latos: 50.1 IP, 808 P, 6.2 IPG, 16.1 PPI.
            Leake: 41.2 IP, 647 P, 5.8 IPG, 15.7 PPI.
            Cingrani: 28.0 IP, 493 P, 5.6 IPG, 17.6 PPI.

            So yes, Cingrani is the least efficient of the 5 starters. Make of this what you will. The numbers are the numbers.

          • @WVRedlegs:

            ^^^^^ ^^^^^
            This isn’t meant as a knock on Cingrani. Just that he needs a little more work and seasoning at AAA.

      • @WVRedlegs: That’s simply not true about the 100 pitches through 5. It’s true about half the time. (2 out of 4 games, yes, and the 5th, I’m not entirely sure.)

        For the record, Cingrani’s number of innings pitched and # of pitches in each outing:

      • @WVRedlegs: That’s simply not true about the 100 pitches through 5. It’s true about half the time. (2 out of 4 games, yes, and the 5th, I’m not entirely sure.)

        For the record, Cingrani’s number of innings pitched and # of pitches in each outing:

  3. I don’t think the shuffle has much to do with the Cingrani situation.

    I fully expect Cingrani to go back to AAA, and I honestly can’t say whether that’s a bad idea or not. He’s a bit of an enigma right now.

    By ERA, obviously he should stay. At 2.89 he has the best mark of any of the starters in the rotation right now.

    That said, he’s stranded 93% of runners, and usually pitchers end up around 75%, so you have to expect he’s gonna give up more runs in the future.

    That that said, his HR/FB rate is insanely high at 21.4% and his GB% is insanely low at 37%, so I’d expect him to give up fewer runs on the HR in the guture and get more outs on the ground.

    Put it all together, and I don’t know what you get. I would probably trust him over Leake, but I see the argument that he needs more time in AAA.

  4. I am unable to watch Cingrani pitch due to being on the left coast, yet the major difference that I read with Cingrani is a determination when the chips are down. I believe he has stranded a lot of runners- when he needs it, he is at his best. If I remember correctly he struck out a batter at 96! Love that mental toughness. Tho, I would send him down to work on the secondary pitches- slider and change-up. If he had three pitches, good morning, good afternoon, and good night; all day long.
    Looks good for next year

  5. Have a hard time believing that what cingrani is getting by with now is sustainable. I think its a lock he’s back in aaa when cueto’s ready. Nice to have him there in the event of injury and could be a huge boost to the pen later this year

  6. Growth and development are the keys. Cueto, Latos, Bailey have all shown growth. We have a very young staff who’s potential is off the charts- even without Chapman as a starter. Coach them up and develop the weaknesses in the minors. Cingrani has the attitude to be a stud.

  7. Cingrani should stay in the rotation. Over the long haul he will be more successful than Leake.

    • @AnnapolisHoosier: You could give that same argument for keeping him in AAA. Start his free agency/arbitration clock a year later and give him another year to improve his usage of his secondary pitches. I honestly don’t know the RIGHT decision between Leake and Cingrani (although looking at his stats I’d say Cingrani), but you can be sure that the Reds are thinking about the future as well. As long as Cingrani doesn’t throw 106, at least.

  8. I’ll take a “working on improving” Cingrani over a lame, low ceiling Leake any day of the week.

    • @MarvinBakerDustyLewis:

      Even if it’s detrimental to his overall career arc?

      He can ‘work on things’ in the minors. He doesn’t have that luxury with the Reds. Therefore, it stands to reason that he can become a better pitcher quicker in the minors than he can in the majors.

      He’ll be ready soon enough, but I prefer to give him the time to develop properly. Look how long it took Bailey to develop.

      • @CI3J: The problem with this is that it’s difficult to know whether keeping Cingrani up will be detrimental (or even possibly beneficial) to his career arc.

        The interesting thing is that in many ways, the Reds could afford to keep Bailey down in AAA (but didn’t) but can much less afford to keep Cingrani down. What if Cueto were out another 3 months? If that were to happen, they’d be forced to choose between keeping Cingrani up, or pitching Galarraga, some other stiff, or trading for a #5 type pitcher. Even if Cueto comes back, they have to choose between Cingrani, and his potentially run per game better ERA than Leake. (I say potentially, of course.)

        On the other hand, the Reds sucked when they brought Bailey up. He didn’t matter; it wasn’t like if he pitched great, they were going anywhere. It was really a poor decision.

      • @CI3J: I think comparing Homer Bailey to Tony Cingrani is misleading. Homer Bailey still had a lot to work on when he was rushed to the majors but Tony Cingrani has dominated at every level. He’s definitely earned a promotion, in my opinion. He’s not getting a MLB job because of hype. Unlike Homer Bailey (back when he was promoted) Cingrani has little left to prove at the minor league level.

        As Hank said when Bailey was promoted they were desperate for some starting pitcher – any starting pitcher. Spinning off that, I think Cingrani earned his promotion.

      • @CI3J: Well Leake was brought up with NO experience in the minors to work on things…how about that arc? Cingrani had about a 1.70 ERA in the minors, I think…Leake should have been in the pen with Chapman in the rotation anyway…

    • @MarvinBakerDustyLewis: Not sure why all the hate for Mike Leake. He doesn’t have #1 or #2 starter ceiling but a lot of scouts don’t think Cingrani does either. Right now, Leake is a #3 or #4 for a lot of teams and would be a #2 for some bad rotations. A handful of years ago, he may have been the Reds’ #2. He still has a little upside though perhaps not as much as Cingrani. Remember how Mike Leake did when he first came up? Through 11 starts he was 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA and never failed to work less than 6 innings. He didn’t have the strikeouts Cingrani does but we can’t tell if Cingrani can keep this up. Personally, I don’t think Cingrani is ready quite yet as his secondary offerings just aren’t quite there. I think you’re right in that he has a higher ceiling but why make him try to learn at the MLB level?

      • @LWBlogger: Please name one team that Leake would be a #2 for.

        I do not hate Mike Leake. But while there does not exist a single scout that believes Leake has #1 or #2 ceiling, there are scouts that believe Cingrani has that ceiling. And then there’s performance. Cingrani’s month in the bigs has been more impressive than anything Mike Leake’s ever done.

        It’s not about hating Mike Leake. He provides very good rotation depth. He’s acceptable as a #5, or even a #4, assuming that he continues to post slightly below average ERAs. But why take “acceptable” over making the team better (this is something I just can’t figure out). Well, there’s the issue with secondary pitches, yes. The Reds will probably send him down, and maybe that’s the right decision.

        In your example of Leake’s career start, also, a lot of that was luck. I’m certain his FIP was much higher, because there was nothing special about his K/BB ratio or anything. On the other hand, Cingrani’s K/BB ratio is ridiculously good. As Al said above, it’s hard to make sense of some things about Cingrani (strand rate, HR/FB rate, etc). But in mind there is no comparison between the potential of Cingrani and Leake. If Cingrani can throw secondary pitches, he could be a staff ace.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Houston, Minnesota, NY Mets, San Diego?

          It’s all about the lack of polish on his secondary offerings and that Cingrani doesn’t need to learn at the MLB level when the Reds have Mike Leake. At least that’s where I stand on my reasons for Cingrani going down when Cueto returns.

          I definitely agree that Cingrani has a higher ceiling. Heck, he may be better right now but the tiny sample size for him won’t quite let me jump there. He’s an impressive young pitcher.

          I didn’t get a chance to take a deeper look at Leake’s good MLB start. It’s very possible a lot of it was luck. I just tend to think he’s a bit undervalued by many Reds’ fans. He’s doesn’t have the ceiling of a staff ace but he does still project by many as a solid middle of the rotation kind of guy. And as I recall, a lot of fans and a few scouts were projecting him as a potential staff ace when he got off to his hot start in 2010, just as a lot of folks are doing with Cingraini now.

          You know what’s a wonderful thing? The fact that we can debate this kinda stuff because the Reds have some really good starting pitchers.

          • @LWBlogger: I’ll certainly give you Houston, but I’ll claim that’s an AAA team!

            Mets—yes, right now. In a month or two, they’re going to bring up Wheeler, I bet, and then no longer.

            The other two are questionable. But I’ll agree that Leake might be a #2 on some really bad teams. And I certainly agree it’s good that we can argue that the Reds can improve (potentially) their staff to the extent that Bronson Arroyo is their 5th best starter.

      • @LWBlogger: I agree with you, Mike Leake gets too much hate. Leake gets lots of criticism not because he’s bad, but because Reds fans have set a much higher standard that he doesn’t live up to. First round draft picks sometimes seem to be treated with a superstar or bust mentality, with no options in-between. Homer Bailey knows all about that from his first few seasons.

        • @RFM: I think the organization has set the standard that Leake isn’t living up to. The Reds have some tremendous pitching. In years gone by, Mike Leake is one of the better pitchers on some bad staffs. Cueto, Latos, Bailey… Leake is the outsider in terms of talent. His skill set gets noticed because it’s not as good as the others. Not saying one should have a staff of aces, but if you have to pick which pitcher is the weakest link the chain, it’s no contest. I don’t care a drop where he was drafted.

          And again, the organization set Leake up by putting him in competition with a certain reliever and saying, in effect, Leake is the best thing we have going forward. He’s got the mantle now, for better or worse.

      • @LWBlogger: It’s not hate…I’d LOVE for Leake to be a Cy Young! But I’ve never seen anything all that promising (although I kind of would like some dress shirts!) Probably seem too critical since he clearly should not be starting over Chapman…and Cingrani has a.) Spent more time in the minors than Leakey, and b.) Shown more success on the big league level…

  9. I think they want Tony Cingrani, the lefty, to face the Phillies, as was suggest above. Utley (.133 average) and Howard (.184) have been terrible against lefties. Also, they’re giving Tony Cingrani another challenge and seeing how he holds up. They know what they’ve got with Mike Leake.

    Johnny Cueto already had a setback so he’s still on the DL. I’m not placing much faith in his rehab start coinciding with whoever’s rotation spot he’ll get. Hopefully he does well, then they’ll make a decision. I doubt flipping Cingrani and Leake has anything to with Cueto.

  10. Would there be any concerns about upper limits on Cingrani staying with the big club? That may be the decided advantage Leake has over him, which seemed to have an impact on Chapman taking Leake’s spot too. Basically, Leake is fully vested, whereas the other two (Cingrani, Leake) are still paying in, and that’s good enough to keep him in, regardless of performance.

    • @Matt WI: Sorry.. left out upper limits on “innings pitched”

    • @Matt WI: I don’t think so. It’d be unusual for the #5 to accumulate that many innings. Even if you believe in the so-called Verducci Effect,that puts Cingrani around 175 innings pitched. The most Leake has pitched was 179, and he’s on pretty much the exact same pace this year.

  11. Heisey went out of the game in the first inning of his rehab start. Hmmm. Bad for Heisey, good for Donald Lutz. Heisey may lose his roster spot altogether if he’s not careful.

  12. I think Dusty wants Latos to pitch Thursday so his family and friends can see him pitch in the Marlins empty palace.

  13. Here’s a thought. Why not move Leake to the bullpen and get rid of Ondrusek? If the Reds are in win-now mode, you would think they’d want the best pitchers they have to be on the team. Leake as the long man makes the pitching staff better.

    The Reds will likely have to use both Leake and Cingrani as starters again, and Leake can move back then.

  14. This may have already been posted; but just in case it hasn’t:

    Rotation was adjusted to give Cingrani extra rest. He had some shoulder soreness, Baker said.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2013 Reds, Reds - General


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