While it seems that just about everyone already knew who the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation would be, manager David Bell made it official on Friday. At least assuming everyone remains healthy.
- Luis Castillo
- Anthony DeSclafani
- Sonny Gray
- Tanner Roark
- Alex Wood
That isn’t necessarily the order in which they will take the mound when the season begins. But those are the five pitchers who are slated as the starters when the season starts. According to ZiPS projections, that rotation is going to be worth 9.5 WAR this season. The entire Cincinnati Reds pitching staff, bullpen included, in 2018 was only worth 6.2 WAR. The top five starters for the Reds, in terms of games started, were only worth 4.7 WAR last year. This crew doubles up on that if the projections hold true.
What makes this all the more interesting is what it can do for the bullpen. On Friday afternoon we learned that Raisel Iglesias would be used in a not-only-a-closer role. We also learned that the team would likely have an 8-man bullpen. Beyond Iglesias, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Amir Garrett, Zach Duke , and Michael Lorenzen all seem to be locks if healthy. Those six combined for a 2.98 ERA last season. That’s pretty, pretty, pretty good.
That leaves open just two spots in the bullpen. There are a lot of options available for those two spots, too. Sal Romano pitched well late in the year out of the bullpen in limited action. Cody Reed posted a 3.98 ERA in 17 games last year with Cincinnati. Tyler Mahle pitched very well in the first half of the season before falling off in the second half as a starter. Then you’ve got guys with good arms, but struggles putting it together like Lucas Sims, Robert Stephenson and Wandy Peralta.
There are some wild cards, too. Jackson Stephens found success at times out of the Reds bullpen. Matt Wisler threw 40.0 innings in the Majors last year with a 4.28 ERA for Atlanta and Cincinnati. And then there’s Matt Bowman, who was quite good for St. Louis in 2016 and 2017, but struggled to pitch with an injury in 2018.
Simply put, there are a whole lot of options to look at in the bullpen for just two spots. Competition breeds success, or so they say. There’s a whole heck of a lot of competition on the pitching staff that doesn’t currently have much room on it. This isn’t your past few years pitching staff for Cincinnati. And thank your deity of choice for that.