This week’s respondents are Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Jim Walker, Tom Mitsoff, and Chad Dotson.
Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for Anthony DeSclafani? Worst-case?
Matt: I think a realistic best case scenario for Disco is that he can get back on the field for an extended amount of time and at least show his stuff that he flashed in 2016 that got Reds fans so hopeful for his future. Worst case scenario, which unfortunately seems a bit more likely than the best-case, is that he cannot stay healthy and does not perform, falling victim to the recent curse of Reds pitching development. Maybe this is just me being pessimistic, but I am not holding my breath that we will ever see him live up to the expectations he built up prior to the injuries.
Steve: Other than a handful of minor league starts, DeSclafani was sidelined all of 2017. He was coming off a strong 2016 season, ready to lead the Reds starting rotation. But DeSclafani strained (partially tore) his ulnar collateral ligament in spring training. The Reds chose a non-surgical route. DeSclafani began to rehab in August and left a start at Dayton with the dreaded forearm discomfort. Two separate doctor opinions confirmed the injury was inflammation (tendonitis) not structural damage. He turns 28 in April.
Upside for 2018: DeSclafani makes 25 starts and pitches 150+ innings. He maintains his career strikeout and walk rates. He puts up #2 or more likely #3 numbers for the Reds.
Downside: The elbow issues return and require surgery.
Jim: About now, Anthony DeSclafani might feel he has been living his worst-case scenario; and, I would be inclined to agree. Following a breakout season in 2015, he missed half of 2016 (muscular issue) but looked to be back on track at season’s end only to subsequently miss all of 2017 with a different and likely more serious health issue (elbow woes). With his service time having crossed the arbitration eligible threshold, his lack of durability looms as career defining, possibly even career threatening. Disco’s best-case scenario seems simple to me. He gets to the mound at the MLB level and stays there. His full season performance in 2015 and half year in 2016 have established he is a solid mid to top of the rotation starter when he is healthy. The only real question is can he get and stay healthy. Until the health question is resolved, we can’t really begin to assess just how high his ceiling could be.
Tom: Anthony DeSclafani could be the most important player for the Reds in 2018. When he has been healthy, he has looked like a potential number two starter in a good rotation. It seems like forever ago, but he was 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA in a 2016 season abbreviated by an oblique injury that has almost seems like the new rotator cuff, in terms of its frequency among Reds pitchers. Last season he had the frayed, instead of torn, elbow ligament. So the best case would be for him to return to his 2016 form, and perhaps even continue to develop. But that is unlikely for a pitcher who has missed 75 percent of the past two seasons. His innings are likely to be limited in some way.
The worst case would be for that frayed UCL to give way and, for all intents and purposes, finish his career with the Reds, at least.
Chad: The worst-case scenario is easy: it’s what we saw last year from DeSclafani. Injuries that don’t heal quickly and make you worry about his long-term durability.
The best-case scenario is easy to envision, if you try. DeSclafani will be just 27 years old this year. He was brilliant in 2016, when he was healthy, before the oblique injury. If his elbow is healthy in 2018, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a top-shelf starter, even an ace. He did throw 184 innings in the big leagues as a 25 year-old; if the Reds can get 184+ out of DeSclafani next year, I think everyone will be very happy with the results. I’m not willing to bet the ranch on that one, but my fingers are crossed.