Occasionally, we feature contributions from loyal members of the Nation. This is Scott Woods’ second piece for RN (here’s his first). Enjoy!


If I asked close followers of the Cincinnati Reds to describe Tony Cingrani’s performance in 2016, I suspect I would hear phrases such as “failed closer,” “walks too many guys,” and “only has one pitch.”

On the surface, there would appear to be little to disagree with regarding those thoughts. After all, Cingrani was a main part of the one of the worst group of relief pitchers in major league baseball history. The bullpen was so ineffective, it set an all-time record for home runs allowed with two weeks remaining in the regular seasonCingrani.

However, to paraphrase William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I am writing this not to bury Tony Cingrani in the bullpen, but to praise him and re-define his role. (I am certain that if Bill S. lived today, he would be the leading baseball writer of our time. The dramatic pauses the game offers would be right up his alley).

Before I lay out a plan to improve him in 2017, let’s review what Tony Cingrani has not been good at, at least up to now:

-He hasn’t been good enough to date in high leverage (game potentially on the line) situations to justify being in the closer’s role.

-He hasn’t been good enough to date in relief versus left-handed batters (many in high-leverage situations) to justify being the team’s LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy).

-As noted here , he doesn’t really throw another pitch consistently besides his fastball. It’s very possible that this contributes to his lack of success in key situations and to the high walks totals.

So, Tony Cingrani is not good at being a closer, not good at being a LOOGY. What is he good at? Appearing in day games, especially at Great American Ball Park. Look at his effectiveness in these situations in 2016, sorted by home runs allowed:

Day – Overall IP AVG HR Allowed WHIP BABIP FIP
Cingrani 24.1 .171 1 1.11 .228 3.31
Lorenzen 13.2 .200 1 1.24 .273 3.51
Iglesias 31.2 .262 2 1.39 .352 2.93
Diaz 17.1 .222 2 1.21 .255 4.42
Wood 21.0 .213 3 1.24 .283 3.96
Ohlendorf 33.2 .250 5 1.37 .300 4.54
Smith 21.1 .322 5 1.69 .358 5.49


Cingrani 12.2 .167 0 0.95 .212 2.91
Diaz 12.0 .105 1 0.92 .120 4.23
Lorenzen 7.0 .250 1 1.14 .300 3.43
Iglesias 23.1 .292 2 1.37 .377 2.63
Ohlendorf 21.2 .228 3 1.34 .278 4.72
Wood 10.0 .206 3 1.30 .222 6.25
Smith 10.1 .256 4 1.16 .231 7.02


Now, I readily admit that these are small sample sizes, but that is what there is to work with in regards to relief pitchers. The Indians’ Andrew Miller, the gold standard of relief pitchers in 2016, appeared in 70 games and only pitched a total 74.1 innings.

Also, it’s very likely that MLB teams have access to data that Joe and Jane Public (you and me) cannot see, which might easily explain why Cingrani has consistently been a better pitcher in day games than in night games. Look at his overall career numbers:


Cingrani Career IP AVG HR Allowed WHIP BABIP FIP
Day 98 .177 10 1.13 .228 3.75
Night 171.1 .248 25 1.48 .298 4.70


And, he has been remarkably consistent in two seasons of day game appearances at Great American Ball Park:

2015 12.2 .122 1 0.95 .161 3.45
2016 12.2 .167 0 0.95 .212 2.91


Maybe he is a morning person. Perhaps his routine is different for day games. Could be his arm action makes the ball harder to pick up during the day. It might simply be that he enjoys getting the breakfast burrito at Frisch’s on his way to GABP. (I know I enjoy getting one).

Whatever the reason, a pitcher who is effective at limiting home runs in GABP should be at least somewhat valued by the Reds. Great American Ball Park has ranked in the top 10 as a HR-friendly park for 12 consecutive years. And, left-handed relief pitching is not cheap to acquire. The St. Louis Cardinals will pay 30 year-old LOOGY Brett Cecil $30.5 million over the next four years, with a full no-trade clause, even though he had never visited St. Louis before.

One more thing. Overall, the team was 14-16 in day games at GABP in 2016. However, it was 11-2 in the games Cingrani appeared in. Just sayin’, small sample size or not.


 The Tony Cingrani improvement plan for 2017:

-Do not bring him into any high-leverage situations, whether it calls for a LOOGY or not. If Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen are both going to be in the bullpen, it is a better use of “seat time” for them to handle those appearances.

-Prioritize using Cingrani in all day contests, especially the 29 scheduled to take place at Great American Ball Park.

-Especially in his daytime appearances, have him focus on throwing another pitch at the expense of using his fastball. Whatever edge he has during the day, it might be enough to keep him from being hit too much while he (hopefully) (finally) develops a true second pitch.

-Work on having him appear for longer than one inning. Perhaps the mastering of a second pitch will assist in the development of his endurance.


Tony Cingrani is a former third-round pick and was once considered one of the brightest prospects in the Reds organization. However, he turned 27 in July, and is no longer considered among the group of future Reds stars. Given the time invested in his development and the park they host games in, it would seem logical for the Reds to explore his potential as a truly unique specialist. In this upcoming #SeasonofSorting, there will never be a better time for this type of outside-of-the-box experiment.

Cingrani may never again be a closer, may never be a LOOGY. But, maybe, just maybe, he could be the GADGY (Great American Ball Park Day Game Guy) on the next contending Reds team.

Scott is a big fan of RLN and occasionally posts comments under the name Sliotar. A fan of all types of bat-and-ball games, he is spending the off-season watching Test cricket from the Southern Hemisphere.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 50 Comments

  1. Cingrani has been given chance after chance to make Red’s team….and time after time he fails.This ain’t a hard read….Tony has one pitch he has confidence in…his fastball… and every hitter in MLB knows this.Tony’s only defense is to try and get hitters to swing at balls out of strike zone and these guys know if they work TC long enough they’ll either get a pitch to drive or a walk.Reds have too much potential talent in pipeline to keep Cingrani around…..TC isn’t the kind of pitcher you have on your staff when you’re a serious contender for post season..

  2. Well, using a guy only in low-leverage home day games would certainly be a niche. He’s pretty fast, too, so you could use him as a pinch runner every now and again.

    You do have to wonder why he hasn’t learned an off-speed pitch from Mario Soto or Dan Straily or somebody. My general theory on him is that his delivery is a bit odd, allowing him to hide the ball well, but that the odd delivery makes it hard to repeat, which in turn costs him a lot of command.

    • The one pitch label has been attached to Cingrani since he came to MLB.TC does have a nice move to first,I’ll give him that…but not much else to offer…

      • except that he was one of the better relievers on team that wants to have 7 or 8 deep bullpen with no real talent

  3. This isn’t football. The extremely limited role you’ve defined for him, based upon your admittedly small sample size, seems too limited to me, particularly for a team with other weaknesses to address and a rebuild in progress. As an aside, it would be pretty to think that the Bard would be a baseball fan, but methinks that cricket would more likely be his cup of tea.

  4. Cingrani has been a real disappointment, to say the least. After such a bright start in the Bigs a few years ago, he has actually regressed. This is a warning about over-valuing all those “top prospects” that “can’t miss”. Something that advanced metrics can’t really touch is what is in a guy’s head. Sure, you measure outcomes, but why has Cingrani actually regressed?
    No command of second and third pitch? Doesn’t listen to coaching? From the South Side of Chicago?? Headcase? Who really knows?

    • To be fair, I’m pretty sure Cingrani was never close to anything resembling a “can’t miss” prospect.

      • Agree, he was a third rounder and was never viewed as a top prospect. He was really more of a “wow if this guy could help that would be a bonus” player. I will say that his early success may have harmed the Reds as he was one of the first of many relievers who could be converted to starters. Not a huge fan.

    • I am at a point that if Reds can get a reliever that can maintain a decent K rate, keep his ERA around 4 and not give up a ton of HR’s that it would be far from a disappointment

  5. I really really wanted Tony Cingrani to turn out to be an important, effective lefty for the Reds bullpen. But it just didn’t happen. This is fascinating stuff Scott, but I think the small sample size problem contains the answer to the Cingrani problem whether you’ve ferreted out something brilliant or just been teased by that tiny sample. If this is just a small sample mirage then Cingrani has no value other than a certain number of mediocre innings which offers no relative value at all. Any AAA arm can replace that. If on the other hand you’ve uncovered the nugget of gold in Cingrani’s left arm then it’s too small to be worth much. Even if he averaged an inning in every one of those 29 GABP home day games, probably only a third to a half could be high leverage. That’s 10-15 innings a year – not enough to justify a spot in the bullpen. I have hoped he would get packaged in a trade with Phillips or Cozart as the leading PORGY (Pick-off One Runner Guy) in the league. But if this was just an exercise in your ALOBSGY repertoire (Always Looking On the Bright Side Guy) then well done and thanks for the mid-winter Reds diversion!

    • Just curious who has done enough to justify a spot in the pen besides Lorenzen and Iglesias other than Cingrani…Jumbo? Blake Wood? why does he have to be important? why can’t he be average in rounding and worry getting more average players instead of the crap they were putting out there in April & May

  6. GADGY! Love it. If only the Reds had a GAGAOATGY!!! (Good at getting anyone out at any time guy!)

  7. Very nice. A little nugget of info found. Managers are supposed to put guys in spots in which they can succeed. This looks like one for Cingrani. Those 29 day home games could amount to some 2 inning outings. Other day games away from GABP Cingrani could pitch in about half of those. Certainly Cingrani would have to come into some night games, so with just this type of usage Cingrani could throw 70-75 innings from the bullpen. This is a nice way to maximize the value to the team and bullpen.
    Like it or not, Cingrani is going to be given every opportunity in spring training to nail down one of the larger roles in the bullpen along with Iglesias and Lorenzen.
    It is just insane the contracts being signed for relievers this winter. Daniel Hudson, just signed with Pittsburgh for 2 years and $11MM. I thought the Reds should take a long look at Hudson, but not anywhere near that price. A team ought to be able to build an effective entire bullpen of 7 or 8 pitchers on what the Yankees pay for 1 year of Aroldis Chapman.

    • On Reds site there’s a nice article on Amir Garrett and at end of article there’s this quote from Bryan Price “Amir should be in our rotation because he’s earned it, and I think that will be his first crack,” Price said. “[But] I do not shy away from young prospects pitching out of a Major League bullpen to get their feet wet. I don’t see Amir as that guy as much as I might see Reed or Stephenson if they don’t win the fifth spot, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. I think it would be less likely than the other two.” So going to FA isn’t the only option here for Cincy as far as bullpen goes…

  8. Do it. It’s this type of thinking that might win a few more games. Have to think carefully on whether this type of use deserves a roster spot. Remember that the “braintrust” has decided to carry three catchers on the 25 man roster.

    • This is what makes me shake my head. Unless the Reds’ starting pitching is much, much improved from 2016, the bullpen will be taxed quite heavily again, hopefully with better results, of course, but I can already hear Price complaining by about mid-May that he needs an 8-man bullpen…….That means carrying 13 pitchers total, 3 catchers, 7 more position-player starters, and that leaves 2 position players on the bench. … And this from a team that has an aversion to putting guys on the DL with minor injuries although they might miss a handful of games. (Maybe the advent of the 10-day disabled list will offset some of this thinking)……But the point is that the Reds can’t afford to get too specialized anywhere.

      • Hopefully the period of time they actually have 3 active catchers on the 25 man will be very limited. Unless everything comes up almost perfectly, Mesoraco should start the year on the DL, quite possibly even the 60 day DL, to allow him time to work his way back into game shape first in the extended spring training program then on formal rehab in the higher levels of the minor leagues. Then once he arrives at MLB, the “3rd guy” shouldn’t be needed.

        This assumes of course than Meso is even in the picture which is far from a sure thing.

    • I would say that if you have to place this kind of limitation on the circumstances when someone can be used to be effective, he doesn’t belong. Someone who you know has a pretty decent chance of walking the first batter he faces also doesn’t belong. This coming season is a very big one for Cingrani’s long-term prospects with both the Reds and as a major leaguer.

      • Totally agree with this.

      • Its not like Cingrani was the only one, but I do agree Cingrani’s season is a big one, I see no reason why he cannot improve on his first full season in the majors

  9. He can’t pitch at night. Can’t pitch in high leverage situations. 2017 is a “rebuilding year”, so he should be able to stick around, but if he shows no improvement over 2016, he should not be in the bullpen in 2018.

  10. You gotta remember that using your B lineup on a getaway day is not just a Dusty Baker/Bryan Price thing. Lots of managers do it.

    It could be that when Cingrani pitched during the day he was facing weaker lineups. He absolutely dominated the minor leagues, so we know that he is very tough on undisciplined hitters.

  11. Tony has one role left to fill. Home Run Derby Pitcher.

  12. I think with Cingrani, he needs to develop a 2nd pitch and improve his command. That’s it, plainly and simply. That’s what he needs to do in order to stay not only with the Reds, but in MLB. He’s got a nice arm, funky delivery, and a great move to 1B. He now needs to refine the command and a 2nd pitch or he’s just going to find himself on the outside looking in.

    • If you like your baseball on the radio (and I do) pretty much every time Cingrani came into a game in 2016 and gave up runs,you heard Jeff Brantley say “a good fastball is enough to get you to the Major League but not enough to keep you there” .This is Tony’s 6th season with Reds,I can’t imagine he’ll develop into anything more than he is now. I’ll be real disappointed if he’s on 25 man roster on Opening Day….

  13. I love this peace, Redlegnation should do more joke pieces (like The Onion). Oh wait . . . its not?

  14. Wow, I was thinking that Daniel Hudson may be a good fit for the Reds if they were serious about signing a reliever but not at the $$$ he just signed for with the Pirates. Maybe it’s true that most of the damage came over a bad stretch in June/July but an ERA over 5 is still an ERA over 5. With relievers and sample size it’s difficult but he just got 2years/$11-million. That’s not the kind of money I’d want the Reds to shell out.

  15. Chuckled all through this piece. Hey, if he’s that effective during day games, why not go all the way and make him your designated starter on Sundays? Regular rotation guys can party on Saturday night without having to worry, and Tony can return to what he wants to do anyway- start.

    • Seriously, why not? Maybe play day games by committee with Cingrani going through the order the first time.

      Maybe have Cingrani throw the first inning of a game twice a week.

  16. Not having Cingrani on the Red’s roster for 2017 would be another indication the rebuild is going forward and it would provide a spot in the bullpen for one of the Reds plethora of young pitchers. And, here’s hoping Cingrani is included in, at least, one trade the Reds make before Opening Day.

  17. To all,

    Thanks for the comments. The readers of RLN come at stuff from all different angles. That’s what makes it such a great site.

    As easy as it is for Reds Nation to be weary of Cingrani, a player with career numbers very similar to Cingrani’s, and 4 years older, recently received a 2-year $11 million contract from Seattle. (Marc Rzepczynski).

    Rzepczynski, Cecil. Left-handed relief is currently a rare and expensive commodity to purchase on the free agent market. If the Reds could find a way to build his value during the early part of the 2017 regular season, at minimum, he could be a nice little trade chip under team control through 2019.

    I am definitely a bright side guy (an ALOBSGY), and would like to see the Reds salvage Cingrani’s career with them, GADGY or not.

    • This is a long the point I make below, what is a 1 WAR lefty reliever worth?, I suspect Cingrani has got to be a great bargain considering what you would have to pay on the free agent market and what is not going to happen from a replacement level player

  18. Why hasn’t Cingrani learned a cutter? At least throw a cutter to offset the 4 seam fastball from time to time. There are some bullpen guys throwing a cutter 95% of the time and getting away with it.

    • He actually is currently doing it now in the offseason. He apparently can throw it well but not all the time. When he doesn’t it’s a meatball from what I have heard.

      • I would question why be so st…um d…..hard headed? I would think with the multiple poundings he would have spent every waking hour starting about 3 years ago! I know effort doesn’t always equal success but any wrinkle to keep them off the heat would help!

      • That makes sense. Cutters are like that. Actually, pretty much any time you’re learning a new pitch there will be times when it is a big, fat meatball. A cutter that doesn’t cut is just a fastball with poor velocity.

        • Don’t get too excited,this is what I’ve heard since Cingrani made his way to Reds 5 seasons ago,he’s trying to learn a new pitch so hitters can’t sit on his FB .And it hasn’t happen yet…I don’t expect this off season to be any different…

        • Yeah, upon further review, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this movie before. Some guys are just AAAA.

          There are more seasoned guys who have reinvented themselves, but the most successful of those had more clay on the wheel to begin with.

  19. I do not get it, people calling for a relief pitcher with 3 positive WAR seasons to be cut. I am taking the GADGY point is just light-hearted poke at finding optimism. But most people seem to over react if a player isnt an All-star or under 25 showing some improvement. If Jay Bruce did not get traded during one of the hottest streaks of his career I would imagine he probably would be subject to all the vitriol that Votto got around May of 2015 and 2016.

    • I forgot to make my main point, doesn’t everybody remember the “replacement level” relievers they were shuttling back and forth from Louisville. Judging from baseball reference, there were only 2 relivers with a higher WAR than Cingrani. Only a handful actually had + WAR. True 0.0 WAR relievers are not just a phone call away.
      1) this was the first season Cingrani was not hurt
      2) what is wrong with having guys under team control for 3 more season about to hit their peak years who will be relatively cheap under 2 million to take a role as 4th or 5th guy out of bullpen?
      3) say your rotation is Homer, Disco, Straily, Amir, Reed/stephenson/alderman
      a bullpen of Iglesias, finegan, Lorenzen looks pretty solid with guys like Wood and Cingrani having similar seasons as 2016
      4) what if CIngrani actually develops control?- like a lot of decent guys in their late 20’s I thought he was going to some guru camp to learn additional pitches this off-season
      5) I am not saying he is the next Randy Johnson, but could be a decent piece if he can pitch like he did in june until sept (very likely tired as he never pitched that long before- take out that awful game in St. Louis had an ERA below 2.00)
      6) I am pretty sure his HR rate was pretty decent- walks killed him and that to me says this is the most correctable thing
      7) Cannot pitch in high leverage situations????, I think he went 14 of 15 in save situation once he had his role defined. Again not calling for him to be closer, just not cast-off foolishly.

    • If he had struggled like Reed and Stephenson his first year I doubt there would be people calling for the Reds to part ways, the more I see what mediocre lefty relievers make the more of a bargain Cingrani look like and the more I am convinced that replacement level relievers do not exist from a WAR sense. For replacements you get Dayarn Diaz, Delabar, Somsen, Drew Hayes, Aj Morris, McGill, etc not to mention the rag arms they replaced who made the opening day roster.

  20. A lot of this can just be getting experience closing again. When he started with the Reds, the Reds were working on him starting (and fighting through injuries), even though (I heard) he was mostly a reliever in college. That’s over 4 years of starting. He just got a taste of relieving again 2 seasons ago, about half a season, a full season last year. I would have no problem giving him at least one more season anyhow, to see if he can improve regularly.

  21. Takes time to develop players. Pitcher especially. St.louis, Dodgers, Yanks, Redsox, look at his arm and are saying “we can fix him”. Reds organization and its fans are horrible on patience. Bad scouts, poor pitching coaches in the minors. Fans who dont understand baseball. Also who wanted to get rid of a manager in baker who took you 3 out of 4 years to the playoffs . Before dusty you were horrible, after dusty you are horrible. Go figure. By the way dusty went to the playoffs last year. AGAIN. Dusty was not your problem as jocketty and your “asleep at the wheel” awful owner

    • No doubt…Tony Cingrani’s inconsistency and Dusty Baker’s managerial career are intricately and irreversibly connected.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


2016 Reds, 2017 Reds


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