Johnny Cueto will come off of the Disabled List and start today’s game for the Cincinnati Reds, and this puts the Reds in a very interesting situation.
When Cueto went to the DL on June 5th, the Reds brought up Pedro Villareal from Louisville to fill the spot of Cueto. The only reason Villareal was brought up was due to the 5th being his normal day to start. On the 7th, Villareal was sent back to Louisville and Henry Rodriguez was brought up so the Reds could have an extra bat to come off of the bench. Then on the 11th, Tony Cingrani was brought back up from Louisville to make a start against the Chicago Cubs.
Cingrani is still with the Reds and Cueto, as mentioned earlier, is set to start today’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Cingrani is definitely the top pitching prospect in the Reds organization and many believe that he will be in the starting rotation in 2014.
The situation becomes even more interesting with the news from yesterday that Jonathan Broxton was placed on 15-day DL. This presents an opening in the bullpen for a left hander, and Villareal was called up to take the place of Broxton. However, there are many that believe the Reds should send Villareal right back down to Louisville and have Cingrani in the bullpen until Broxton is ready to come off of the DL.
The reasons stated by many as to why Cingrani was sent back to Louisville after his first time with the Reds still has not been addressed. These reasons were that Cingrani didn’t have a secondary pitch that he could consistently throw for a strike, his pitch efficiency was not where it should be and that he would have a better opportunity to work on these things down in Louisville.
This writer believes that moving Cingrani to the bullpen will delay his potential as a starter. In Louisville, Cingrani will be able to pitch every fifth day, have more of an opportunity to work on a secondary pitch in game situations and work on his pitch efficiency. These are things that cannot be worked on at the Major League level.
It is understandable the Reds have to think about and do what is best for the team in the short term, but they cannot forget about the long term.
Let’s think about this innings wise, in the bullpen in Cincinnati for two weeks he might get in for maybe an inning every other game, or maybe he would just come in for one batter in a game. In Louisville, he would start every fifth game and in Louisville this year he has averaged 5.2 innings per game. So if he would start three games in that two week span, he would get in 17 innings of work but it would be safe to say that the organization would like see him pitch deeper into games while with Louisville. It is pretty obvious he would get more work while in Louisville, and that is what he needs at this point in his development as a pitcher.
Sure it would be great to have Cingrani in the bullpen because he is a terrific arm, but the possibility of stunting maybe two weeks worth of growth that Cingrani could get in Louisville does not make much sense.