Will Anthony DeSclafani pitch this season for the Reds? It’s less than a sure thing.

In an injury update recently, C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com shared:

RHP Anthony DeSclafani (elbow) was examined in Cincinnati on Friday and there was not enough progress to begin a throwing program, Price said. He’ll be re-examined in a couple of weeks, (Manager Bryan) Price said.

DeSclafani’s injury has been reported as a ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain of the right elbow. Of course, injuries to the UCL often result in the dreaded “Tommy John” surgery, a surgical graft procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament is replaced with either a tendon from elsewhere from the patient’s own body, or the use of a tendon from the donated tissue of a cadaver.

There has been no official or even unofficial indication that DeSclafani is facing Tommy John surgery. But keep in mind what a sprain is. According to the Mayo Clinic, a sprain “is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints.” It’s the next worst thing to a tear, and as Mayo says, may even include tearing.

To be very clear, this is mere speculation at this point. But we have Homer Bailey, who has now had at least two surgical procedures on his pitching arm, who is getting ready to begin his throwing and rehab after a “cleanup” surgery in March. DeSclafani, who has not had any previous arm or elbow issues, won’t even be re-examined until mid-May.

It’s been around two months since DeSclafani was shut down in spring training. In March, Zach Buchanan of Cincinnati.com tweeted that DeSclafani’s injury is similar to the one which forced Michael Lorenzen to miss three months in 2016:

Presuming that is correct, we will hopefully see DeSclafani in July. The fact that there is no timeline to speak of yet, though, sparks a degree of concern because of the number of pitching injuries that have struck the Reds staff in particular the past two years. In this case, no news does not seem like good news.

When you ask yourself why Bronson Arroyo, Scott Feldman, and Tim Adleman are getting starts, remember that starters DeSclafani, Bailey and Brandon Finnegan are on the disabled list. This after 2016, when SIX starting pitchers were on the disabled list early in the season.

This year’s injuries have served to set back the development of the pitching staff. We’ve seen some folks pitching (Rookie Davis and Sal Romano, to name two) who aren’t yet ready. One of Dick Williams’ stated goals as part of the rebuilding roadmap is not to rush players to the majors before they are ready, and the injuries have forced some detours from that plan.

In the “year of sorting,” it was important to pass judgment on whether Bailey can or should be counted on as a starter moving forward, and that has been delayed. Now Reds fans must hope that the full extent of DeSclafani’s injury is more similar to Lorenzen’s than Bailey’s. The loss of a potential front-of-the-rotation starter would be dreadful for a team that has precious few of them at the moment.

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

Join the conversation! 22 Comments

  1. On the Reds radio Beat Reporter segment last night, @ZachENQ speculated that a best case scenario for Bailey was late June/ early July and for Desclafani mid/ late July.

  2. Disco has proven to be a very effective starter, when healthy, with the reds the last couple of years. In fact when he regains full health, it looks like Disco and Garrett represent top of the rotation guys for the reds. Disco is so important to this teams long term outlook…I, too, hope that his injury is like Lorenzen’s and not like Baileys. I hope we see Bailey pitching his way back to form after the all star break. We need to see if he can again be an effective starter. I’m concerned about Finnagan as well. Thor has a torn lat and they are suggesting he may be out for three months. If Finnagans lat tear is as bad as Thors, then three months to recover and a month to condition his arm, we may not see him pitch again until at least mid August. I hope that doesn’t mean three or four months more of Arroyo and Feldman starting.

  3. Its depressing! You turn on the Reds game and see hundreds of excited fans at the game. Our pitching is always at the bottom of the league year after year. We need help and we sign guys like Feldman or pull Arroyo off the scrap heap. Meanwhile the Cubs will pickup Ervin Santana or the cream of the crop of whats available. I’m a fan of history and its like the Japanese trying to keep up with the American industrial production in WW2. They had zero chance.

    • I don’t disagree with you. However, going back to the debacle of the Reds finding themselves in the situation of 4 with their 5 rotation starters being in a walk away season in 2014 and a previous rotation starter (Arroyo) having left at the end of the previous season, it seems to me reasonable to expect that by now they would have developed at least one internal replacement.

  4. Injuries have decimated The Re-Build. Time for a Plan-B.
    Houston and Cleveland did their re-builds with a focus on developing hitting and pitching within their organizations. Both have scuttled those plans and went out and obtained ML players to fill holes that prospects couldn’t. Reds are in a similar situation and should scuttle their Re-Build Binder.
    The Chicago Cubs seem to have the re-build philosophy down. Develop the position players within, develop some pitching and then go out and obtain what you need with all the prospects they had stocked up. And the Reds don’t even need to go the expensive free agent route that the Cubs also employed in their re-build.

    • Replace “Don’t even need to go expensive” to “Won’t and wouldn’t if they could”.
      We have so many injuries that I don’t know who we would trade? They made a few good trades but Cueto, Chapman, and Frazier are gone. Votto is the only guy left that could bring difference makers to the organization. They could trade Duvall or Schebler or whoever but they’re not bringing in game-changers in return!

    • It doesn’t help the Reds any that the two guys who this time last year were considered their top near MLB ready pitching prospects, Stephenson and Reed, aren’t even being being used as starting pitchers.

      Both of them averaged just short of 5IP per MLB start in 2016. Yet despite being healthy, as far as we know, this year they are in some sort of in between never never land while the team looks at a couple different guys as starters rather than trying to push RS and CR ahead.

    • Bailey, DeSlafani, Finnegan on the DL with extended stays. Iglesias and Lorenzen are reduced to bullpen pieces. Reed and Stephenson are not fulfilling their promise and reduced to bullpen pieces.
      That is 7 starting pitchers that are not able to start, or can not start. Add in Romano on the DL and Rookie Davis not being ready, it is time to acquire some reliable starting pitching for some of these stockpiled valued prospects. The Reds just don’t have that.
      The Reds would have to protect as untouchables a few prospects like Senzel, Trammell, Winker, T Stephenson, Big Sal, Mahle and Castillo. Everyone else is a trade candidate. Even ones on the ML roster like Duvall, Schebler, BHam, Peraza, Stephenson, and Reed would be available for trade packages with the prospects.

      • At this point they’d get no added value for Reed or Stephenson because they won’t use them in any sort of leverage situation…..

        • I think those two need to earn a chance to be used in a leverage situation. Neither has, in my opinion. Reed had his chance and couldn’t handle it against the Cubs.

          • One chance against the best lineup in MLB? That doesn’t seem like a genuine chance.

            If the team’s plan was to stagger some of the young rotation guys over the course of the season, then starting Stephenson and Reed in the BP at the beginning makes sense…up to a point. But now with the avalanche of injuries to other starters and the fact that we’re now 6 weeks into the season, we need to start actually giving these two a chance to either sink or swim. There’s nothing else to be gained with the approach being used right now.

    • I concur. Developing young pitching seems to be a dangerous path, pitchers get hurt. Develop young hitting and position players and then add pitching. Look at Houston as you noted, the majority of their talent is at the position player, Kuechel is great.

      Instead, the Reds traded their assets for young pitching, now they are struggling or injured.

      Who did the Cubs develop in their starting rotation?

      • Somebody has to develop young pitching, though. Getting hurt is a crapshoot. The Reds could trade assets for MLB starters (it would take a whole bunch of their assets, though) and then the new starter could get hurt. It isn’t just prospect pitchers who suffer injuries. Position players get hurt, too.

  5. Seems worse than Lorenzen’s injury unfortunately. Lorenzen missed two of the three months with mono. He was healthy and ready to throw in April, 4-6 weeks after his injury.


    Desclafani’s isn’t healing like Lorenzen’s did, which makes me fear Tommy John surgery.

    • Very good point, Nick. This doesn’t appear to be the same situation at all. Saying the injuries were “similar” is not the same as saying they were the “same” injury. Even if he had the exact same injury, there’s no certainty of equal recovery periods. I hope we’ll hear some positive news soon re: Disco. But the longer this goes, the more likely it seems like he’s headed the TJ route.

  6. I’m not counting on Bailey or Disco anytime soon. Seen this too many times.

  7. I have been saying this since Spring Training: Have the surgery and get it over with. Then he could be ready to pitch this time next year.

    I don’t get the point of dragging it out. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point. Besides, what’s the point of Disco trying to come back this year? We already know he can pitch. Better to get him ready for next season.

    I promise, I 99% promise you, if he comes back to pitch this season, he will completely tear his tendon and will have Tommy John surgery. But if it doesn’t happen until July, that means he could end up missing most of next season as well.

    • I can’t necessarily blame them for not rushing to TJ. There’s no guaranty of a positive outcome (see: Homer Bailey). All things being equal, and we don’t have specific info about his injury, if a less drastic measure could be used (See: Michael Lorenzen), you take it. Having said that, they need to be decisive once the results don’t appear from the treatments. Or Disco is going to end up on the shelf for a long time to come.

  8. “When you ask yourself why Bronson Arroyo, Scott Feldman, and Tim Adleman are getting starts, remember that starters DeSclafani, Bailey and Brandon Finnegan are on the disabled list.”

    I was going to post something like this in reply to another article that was posted today. I’d like to see the pair of stones on the guy in Reds FO calling for the young guys to hurry up and start throwing 7 innings every 5-6 days.

  9. I’m sure Williams would like to find some sp help for the Reds, but trading away our minor league prospects would be counterproductive to the long term success of this franchise. I think it would take Suarez (plus a prospect) to get a good young starting pitcher. Anything less & Reds would be hoping for a bargain. We don’t need any more bargains.

  10. Reed and Stephenson have showed nothing. Players need to earn playing time through performance in the minors or on the MLB roster. Both Reed and Stephenson have not earned anything. They are throwers not pitchers. I was at the game last night. Reed has no idea where he is throwing the ball .His pitches miss by feet not inches. Stephenson has the same problem They look like busts,

    • Same thing people said about Cueto and Bailey when they struggled for years. Same thing people were likely saying about Greg Maddux when he had an ERA of 5.52 and 5.61 his first two years. Reed and Stephenson may not end up being any good at the MLB level, but it’s way too early to write them off.

Comments are closed.

About Tom Mitsoff

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.


2017 Reds


, , , , , , ,