According to a report from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, the Cincinnati Reds are staring at a potential dilemma. Sheldon writes there is a possibility Cincy could have “four pitchers likely to start on DL”. We are all too aware of what happened to closer Aroldis Chapman. Initially, it has been stated the Chap[man could return in late May to early June. As far as the others.
Also per Sheldon, Jonathan Broxton is scheduled to toss one inning in today’s game against the Kansas City Royals. Broxton is recovering from surgery on his right flexor mass strain.
Another bullpen mate, Sean Marshall, is said to be dealing with issues surrounding his left shoulder. At the beginning of this month, Marshall was once again dealt with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. He dealt with the same issue at period last season as well.
Mat Latos had surgery on his left knee for a torn meniscus. While the knee appears to be coming along, manager Bryan Price would like Latos to have five starts under his belt before his regular season begins. Latos is currently scheduled to throw three innings in a minor league game come Monday.
And there could be a fifth pitcher to join those that are ailing. The club may have to add Homer Bailey to the DL. Bailey, who recently inked a six-year, $105MM deal, is suffering from a right groin strain. Bailey was to have a bullpen session this morning. The results of that session could be crucial not only for Bailey, but for the Reds staff as a whole.
If both Latos and Bailey begin the season on the DL, Price will have Johnny Cueto (who dealt with the injury bug a lot last season), Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani as the only players in their major league camp that started a game as a Red last season. The team has been stretching out Alfredo Simon since he did hold a starting rotation spot when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. This decision was made after the surgery on Latos’ knee was performed.
But the Reds do have a couple of guys that could help. Since many teams won’t use a fifth started until a couple of weeks after the season has started, there’s time for Bailey and Latos to heal. That also provides time for the Reds brass to decide what to do with that #5 starting rotation slot.
There are a couple of options, but neither is extremely sexy.
One that does come to mind, and he is still in the big league camp, is lefty Jeff Francis. Francis was with the Reds during spring training in 2012 and appeared in 12 games for their Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. He opted out and was signed by the Colorado Rockies where he started 24 games for the Rox that season. He split time between Colorado and Triple-A Colorado Springs last season.
But Francis has only thrown 13 innings in the five games this spring.
Chien-Ming Wang was recently reassigned to the minors, but he did start six games for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. That didn’t go over so well as Wang was hit in bunches during those six outings. Well, except for his second and third starts. Wang was being hit a bit this spring as well, allowing 10 hits in 7 innings.
As far as the closer’s role, Price hasn’t intimated who would serve as the team’s closer in Chapman’s absence. A couple of those possibilities have already been mentioned as starting the season on the DL in Broxton and Marshall. Recall the deal the Reds signed Broxton to prior to last season (3 yrs./$21MM with a club option for a 4th year). It was felt Broxton was receiving “closer money” with this deal as there was conjecture if the Reds would continue to use Chapman as its closer or move him into the starting rotation.
A committee could be the direction Price takes. It might have to be.
Among the pitchers that could comprise the Reds bullpen, J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek are the only ones that have a MLB save while wearing a Reds uni. The total saves from this trio is 7 (Hoover – 4, Ondrusek – 2, LeCure – 1).