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Where Will DeSclafani Fit in the Rotation?

Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has not pitched in the MLB since September 2016. The right-handed pitcher missed the entire 2017 season as he hit the disabled list in spring training with a strained left oblique muscle. DeSclafani was on his way back to the Major League roster in 2017 before suffering from a setback, keeping him out of action the rest of the season.

Saturday, DeSclafani made his second rehab start in Double-A Pensacola. DeSclafani threw 76 pitches, striking out eight batters, walked one, allowing five hits and three runs in his five innings of work. From the rumblings within the Reds organization, DeSclafani should have about one or two more rehab starts before he is eligible to be reinstated on May 28. Based on his history, the Reds management will need to keep a close eye on DeSclafani as he has a tendency to suffer a setback in his rehab the closer he is to returning to the roster.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman seems to have plans to plug DeSclafani into Cincinnati’s starting rotation. But the question seems to be who will the 28-year old replace in the rotation? Currently, the rotation consists of Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Matt Harvey. So who pulls the short straw in this situation? Let’s do some process of elimination.

If money were to not be a concern, Bailey’s numbers so far in 2018 would indicate that he should be moved to the bullpen. However, with Bailey set to earn $21 million this year and $23 million next year, it’s tough to justify removing him from the starting rotation. Cincinnati just acquired Harvey in a trade with the New York Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco less than two weeks ago.

Now it’s down to Castillo, Mahle and Romano. All three of these guys are all young and each has their own struggles. Castillo made his Major League debut in the 2017 season, jumping straight from Double-A to the Major Leagues. So far in 2018, Castillo has started 10 games, posting a 3-4 record in 51.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 57 hits, 32 earned runs, 10 home runs, 20 walks but striking out 50 batters. This puts Castillo at an ERA of 5.61.

Mahle is considered a rookie this season and has 10 Major League starts under his belt. Mahle has a 3-6 record with 53.2 innings pitched, allowing 55 hits, 27 earned runs, 13 home runs, 18 walks and striking out 52 batters. Mahle not only has a team-best ERA of 4.53, but he leads the Reds in wins and strikeouts as well.

Sal Romano has started 10 games so far this year, earning a 2-5 record. Romano has 49.2 innings pitched, allowing 52 hits, 31 earned runs, eight home runs, 25 walks and striking out 34 batters. Romano has posted a 5.62 ERA.

Based on the process of elimination, the options for who DeSclafani will replace in the rotation is down to Castillo and Romano. Bailey and Harvey were eliminated due to Major League experience and money situations. Mahle is safe since he leads the team in a three of the five major pitching statistics. Castillo is probably safe due to how young he is and how much promise he shows for a future in Cincinnati. This leaves us with Romano as the odd man out. Romano would make a great addition to the already strong, but overused, bullpen if he isn’t sent to Triple-A.

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