GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If you’re betting on the Reds’ Opening Day starter, the smart money is on right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.
DeSclafani was the most consistent of the rookie starters last year, going 9-13 with a 4.05 ERA.
The other two possibilities are starting the spring behind. Homer Bailey (Tommy John surgery) won’t be ready before May 1. And Raisel Iglesias, the other rookie who who showed so much promise, is a bit behind as well because he was on a shoulder-strengthening program this offseason.
Reds manager Bryan Price isn’t ready to declare anyone the starter for the opener -- but that’s not because he doesn’t have a plan.
“I have a pretty good idea of how this is going to unfold,” he said. “But because this is going to be a competitive camp, I’m not assigning a lot of guarantees with this pitching staff. We’ll hold off on making any disclosures."
Price has another six weeks of spring training to figure out who is healthy and ready to play, and a lot can happen in six weeks,
"I’ve got a good idea of how I want to come out of the gates if things go as I anticipate them going, but there’s certainly no guarantees that’s going to happen," he said. “I won’t be afraid to unfurl that rotation once I’m confident that’s how it’s going to lay out. I just don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and have to renege on something.”
Lorenzen and Finnegan: Mound or bullpen?
The fact that Reds did not bring in any veterans relievers on big league contracts likely means that some of the young pitchers are going to end up in the bullpen.
Right-hander Michael Lorenzen and left-hander Brandon Finnegan are candidates for the switch.
But both are preparing as starters this spring. Both pitched with mixed results for the Reds last year. Lorenzen, 24, was 4-9 with a 5.40 ERA. Finnegan, 22, was 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA.
“(Lorenzen) can fill multiple roles,” Price said. “I think I mentioned it the other day, the thing that’s going to be the most interesting about this current crop of Reds pitchers and prospects is they’ve yet to define where they’re best suited on this team. The thing that Michael has done is he’s been a dominant performer as a starter in Double-A and Triple-A. You know I don’t like pulling the plug on young pitchers. Sometimes I may transition a guy from starter to reliever to fill a need for a particular club with the long view still as remaining a starting pitcher prospect.
“However, I think that with Michael’s background with what he showed there in September in the bullpen, he could be a guy who could be a long-term fixture both as a starter or as a set-up man/closer option," Price said. "I’m not going to close the door on the bullpen for Michael either.”
The same is true with Finnegan.
“(He was) a great college starting pitcher,” Price said. “He did a terrific job for a World Series team in 2014 as a relief pitcher. Right now, I’d love to see him succeed as a starter. He’s got the three-pitch mix. He has a history as a starting pitcher in college.
"I would not like to put him in the bullpen until I feel like that’s the best place for him. I really do see him as a starter at this point in time. There are probably different camps on that, but I see him as a starter.”