Since signing with the Reds out of Cuba in June of 2014, Raisel Iglesias has been one of our favorite topics of conversation here at the Nation.

From almost the very second I laid eyes on Iglesias, I felt like he was the most talented pitcher in the organization. With good reason: Iglesias has been nothing short of outstanding in his 55 appearances over two seasons with the Redlegs. I like calling him “Bronson Arroyo with stuff,” as Iglesias has at least three plus pitches, and he changes arm angles like Arroyo did in his heyday.

There is no doubt in my mind that Iglesias could be a #1 starter in the big leagues, given his talent. For a long time, we debated the merits of starter vs. reliever for Iglesias (see here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).

At this point, it’s become increasingly clear to everyone that Iglesias’ shoulder is just not going to be able to handle the workload of a starting pitching. Again, I can’t stress how much that bums me out. This guy is the real deal, an elite talent.

However, given that Iglesias seems destined for the bullpen, it seems like a great opportunity for Bryan Price and the Reds to get creative with Raisel’s usage. If he’s going to be a reliever anyway, why can’t he be the best reliever on earth?

Something that happened at our Redleg Nation/Red Reporter meetup last September got all of us dreaming about inventive ways to use Iglesias out of the bullpen. What if he could be a 120-inning reliever, as Steve Mancuso dreamed:

A little more than a month later, my ears perked up at the Q&A session with the Reds front office staff when Nick Krall floated the notion that a reliever like Raisel Iglesais, if he pitched 120 innings, might be nearly as valuable as a starting pitcher. It’s one thing for an uncredentialed writer (me) to spitball a new idea. It’s another level of seriousness when a major league assistant general manager does it.

At 120 innings (or even 90), relievers will still be worth less than full-time starters because of math. But confining their innings to high-leverage situations would bring the values closer together. A certain percentage of the starter’s innings are with leads or deficits of three runs or greater.

If Raisel Iglesias’ balky shoulder or Michael Lorenzen’s pitch portfolio mean one or both are destined for the bullpen, then any number of innings beyond the typical modern reliever role would be beneficial to the club. 90 innings from above-average pitchers have more value than 65. While you’re thinking about it, throw this on the mounting pile of arguments against the restrictive, Dusty Baker-style closer role for the best arm in the bullpen.

I dunno, just the thought of using Iglesias (and Lorenzen, I guess, though he should be a starter!) in a role that is somewhat closer to what we saw from managers in the 2016 playoffs — that is, creative usage — excites me.

Alas, Raisel Iglesias continues to have trouble staying healthy. Over the weekend, we saw this brief report in the Enquirer:

RHP Raisel Iglesias didn’t pitch in his scheduled minor-league game on Saturday because of what Price labeled “stiffness in his elbow.” Price said it was “not a major concern.”

Stiffness in his elbow. “Not a major concern.” We’ve heard that one before. (Most recently with Anthony DeSclafani, about whom there was more reason to be concerned than initially reported by Price. Before that, it was Homer Bailey, who was just fine until he ended up having surgery.)


Fast forward to Monday, when C. Trent reported this on Iglesias:

In addition to his sore right elbow, Raisel Iglesias’ back is also bothering him. He was scheduled to be examined on Monday, Price said.

“He should be OK,” Price said. “We’re going to do a bit more of a thorough once-over today with both the elbow and back. There’s no reason to slow him down completely.”

Sore right elbow. Back problems.

Double yikes.

It’s certainly conceivable that I’m making more of this than I should. This could just be a minor issue that many pitchers deal with during the course of spring training. There’s no hint that anything more serious is afoot than has been reported.

On the other hand, given Iglesias’ injury history — combined with the recent bad news about fellow hurlers DeSclafani and Bailey — forgive me if I’m a little jumpy about any reports of his ill health. Raisel can be a very important piece of the next good Reds team, and even moreso if he’s healthy enough to justify pitching him more (and in more high-leverage situations) than the average stud relief pitcher.

What’s up with Raisel Iglesias? That’s a question that we’ll be keeping a keen eye on over the next couple of weeks.

43 Responses

  1. MrRed

    If you’re looking for some good news in this, at least it doesn’t involve his previously injured shoulder. Silver linings and spring training optimism and all…

    How’s Lorenzen doing? I hope I didn’t jinx things by asking but his services might be needed a bit more this year.

  2. Jordan Barhorst

    Sounds like we should pool all of our money together and buy everyone on the 40-man some memory foam. Or just request they use a mattress when sleeping, and not just the box springs.

  3. sandman

    What’s starting to eat at me is the level of concern (or rather, the lack thereof) that Reds Brass (I guess Price is included in that) are showing over the injuries. They’re constantly downplaying the injuries and their level of concern. You can’t tell me that they aren’t concerned, if about nothing else, than the sheer number of injuries (and their pesky reoccurrence over the last few yrs or so) to key pieces of this club’s future.

    • greenmtred

      What they’re saying and the amount of concern they have could easily be two different things, Sandman. They aren’t obliged to tell us everything.

    • Chuck Schick

      Are they suppose to stand at the podium screaming and crying over the injuries? I would love to see Price rolling on the ground like Nancy Kerrigan yelling “why me, why me”?

      Perhaps they should just put a camera in Dick Williams’s office so everyone knows everything in real time.

      • sandman

        Chuck/Greenmtred, of course I don’t expect them to throw temper-tantrums. Don’t be ridiculous. But they shouldn’t sugar coat everything. Don’t assume we’re stupid. Disco, Herrera, Hamilton (just to name a few) all have injury histories. We’re not stupid so don’t treat us like children and gloss over everything.

  4. Bill Lack

    In addition to the history of the Reds medical staff….ugh.

    • greenmtred

      And that history is…? Do you have evidence that the Reds’ staff is worse than other teams’? It wasn’t so long ago (2012?) that the Reds’ rotation made it through the entire season largely unscathed.

      • Kyle Farmer

        Yeah, the season the rotation went unscathed is the same season they botched Joey Votto’s knee surgery. Not taking much solace from 2012.

      • Eric The Red

        2012 was the year they butchered Joey Votto’s knee. We don’t know if Homer or Disco or Cueto or Marshall or Madson or Mesoraco could have been handled differently, but we certainly know Votto’s injury was mismanaged.

      • greenmtred

        Okay, but do you know who was responsible for the “mismanagement?” I put that in quotes, because I know from personal experience, as I’m sure many of you do, that surgery and recovery are rarely predictable slam-dunks. It doesn’t work the same for everybody. How much of the difficulty JV experienced was due to his desire to play? I don’t know, but I haven’t heard a persuasive indictment of the surgery, nor have I heard any evidence that the Reds pressured Votto to return to the lineup when he did. His knee couldn’t have been “butchered” too badly, since it seems to work pretty well now. Better than mine, at any rate. You can’t really tell the outcomes of surgery and rehab until you test them, and recovery, again in my experience, is rarely without difficulty and setbacks.

  5. Brandon (@BSmitty25039)

    If the Reds lose Iglesias in addition to DeSclafani…ugh. The Bailey injury didn’t sting as much because I wasn’t expecting much from him this year, but I felt Disco was on the verge of becoming a rock solid #2 starter.

    Injuries suck the fun out of sports. Without the shoulder problems, Iglesias seemed like a good bet to become the ace we need. Hopefully whatever problems he’s having now are only minor and don’t keep him out.

  6. Jim Walker

    Another ~$30M in sunken cost with a continuing ??? after his name. Predictive sports science/ medicine can’t get here soon enough for the Reds.

    • greenmtred

      It’s here now, Jim. Professional pitchers are going to have elbow/shoulder injuries. Best way to avoid it? Don’t pitch.

      • Jim Walker

        I believe we are on the cusp of an advanced generation of what I’ll call a “prediagnostic” era. The combined efforts of sports science and sports medicine are going to be able to identify those players whose genetics and mechanics predispose them to particular repetitive motion related injuries. The process by which these injuries develop will become known allowing earlier (preventive and mitigating) interventions.

        To me this is both very exciting and very scary at the same time. The exciting side is obvious. The scary side is just as with DNA testing for genes related to specific conditions and illnesses in the general population, what are the ethics which need to be figured out?

      • greenmtred

        I think you’re right on all counts, Jim, though I doubt that it could be totally predictive (there are events that will cause injury regardless of genetics and mechanics). If I live long enough, I’ll be interested to see whether the human arm can tolerate throwing 98mph for years and years.

  7. I-71_Exile

    If we’ve learning one thing over the years, the Reds are going to downplay any and every injury. It’s what they do. Just because they say something is “nothing serious” doesn’t mean that they believe it. I suspect they are taking Raisel’s elbow soreness VERY seriously.

    • Kyle Farmer

      Why would you think that? They didn’t take Disco’s elbow soreness seriously at all. They didn’t bother to have an MRI until they had already restarted his thowing program with a partially torn UCL. Absolutely ridiculous considering the investment.

      • I-71_Exile

        Why do I think that? Precisely because of the investment involved. The Reds have a lot more invested in their players than you or I do. I don’t know when they did the MRI on Disco nor the extenuating circumstances surrounding it. A throwing program starts with short distance soft toss anyway which puts about zero strain the arm but will reveal a more serious idea because the pain won’t subside. It’s not like he jumped to 95 mph heaters and made the problem worse.

      • Bill Lack

        And they seem to play with a short roster (with day to day injuries that last a week, 10 days, 2 weeks) more than any team I’ve ever seen.

      • Jordan Barhorst

        You’re absolutely right, but I’d think this will change with the 10-day DL replacing the 15-day.

      • lwblogger2

        That’s my hope as well. It’s an easier decision to make at 10-days vs 15-days.

  8. IndyRedMan

    I give up with these injuries? Of course the Cubs starters all roll out 200ip every year with no problems. Disco & Bailey sidetracked…..Lorenzen and Iglesias are in the prime of their career and already limited to relief. It feels like even if the Reds put together 4-5 outstanding starters at some point that 2 or 3 of them wouldn’t hold up for long. Medical care…scouting…what is it? I know Jake Arrieta is really into yoga type exercise and stretching…couldn’t hurt?

    • Simon Cowell

      stretching and working out was a major part of Nolan Ryan’s success. It does make you wonder if some pitchers need a better workout routine.

      • greenmtred

        Nolan Ryan attributed his longevity to eating lots of vegetables, as I recall.

      • WVRedlegs

        During the off-season, Nolan Ryan would soak his pitching hand in pickle brine every day to toughen up the skin. This was to keep from getting blisters. He also had a wooden barrel full of rice or some other grain, place his arm down in the grain and would do resistance type of arm exercises.

      • greenmtred

        Cool! Those are both really old-school tricks. I think thatt Steve Carleton used the barrel of rice, as well.

  9. Brandon (@BSmitty25039)

    Ken Rosenthal says the Rays are shopping Erasmo Ramirez. He pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year, but as a starter in 2015, he posted a 3.75 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 2.20 BB/9, and 6.94 K/9 in 163.1 IP. He seems like a nice fit for the Reds.

    • Kyle Farmer

      How many years left under contract? At this point, 2017 is looking more and more like a sunk season. Don’t trade anyone would might be able to help in 2019 for someone who isn’t going to be a major part of that season.

  10. docmike

    When it rains it pours.

    When it comes to the Reds and injuries, it seems like the skies are always cloudy…

  11. Hokie Red

    Does anyone really believe that Price can use his bullpen creative like the “2016 playoffs”? Don’t won’t to throw Price under the bus, but he has never shown that he could be creative.

    • VaRedsFan

      You are able to burn your guys in playoff scenarios because you don’t have to worry about the the repercussions of the long regular season

      • lwblogger2

        Yes, and you also are going “all in” for every win without regard to tomorrow. This also can’t be done over the long 162.

  12. WVRedlegs

    Iglesias was my pick last spring to be the Reds breakout player in 2016. He was looking like he might be among the better NL starters, and it just wasn’t meant to be.
    The pitching stuff is there. The durability, not so much.
    When he is able to go and pitch, I’d hazard a guess that Iglesias will see very few 2 inning stints.

    • Old-school

      I would suggest the opposite…He will get his 2 innings…Then be unavailable the next 2 days. The best way to handle is regulate total appearances and eliminate all warming up sitting down.warming up… Hes available to pitch and once he warms up…He’s throwing 35-40 pitches and multiple innings.

  13. redsfan06

    I just do not see 120 innings out of Iglesias out of the bullpen. perhaps 80-90. That would be considered a lot nowadays.

  14. Chad Jones

    With all these pitching injuries I think it’s about time for the Reds to reevaluate their pitching training program. I mean other teams have injuries, but none seem to have as many as we did. It gets old and frustrating every spring reading about pitching injuries.

    • greenmtred

      We’re Reds fans and are hyper aware of their injuries. Plenty of people here have said essentially the same thing, but Steve challenged somebody a while ago to document the claim, and to my knowledge, no one has.

  15. VaRedsFan

    Iggy has made it known that if he pitches 2 innings that he will need at least 2 days rest afterwards

    • vegastypo

      So he can’t start, and he can only be a reliever three days a week in this role? Lovely.

      • Old-school

        Not the end of the world…As George will said…Everyone leaves spring training 60-60…It’s the other 42 games you play for….Bring Iggy in the 7th of a tied game or winning by 1 with a pinch hitter the inning prior for the starter. He pitches 10-12 innings a month…5-6 games. If used wisely…It can work.