Gone are the days of Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey leading a solid rotation that helped the Cincinnati Reds compete in the National League Central from 2010 to 2013. The Reds have finished dead last the past two seasons, and fourth in 2014. They enter spring training with a lot of uncertainty in the rotation, as they are still working towards a rebuild.
They looked to be done trading away their top players until they sent Dan Straily, their top pitcher from last season, to the Miami Marlins for three prospects. The Reds started the season with five starters on the disabled list, but once the rotation became healthy they went on to win 36 games after the All-Star break. Nothing remarkable by any means, but a step in the right direction. With Homer Bailey expected to start the season on the disabled list following surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow, the Cincinnati Reds will be sending young developing pitchers to the mound day in and day out.
- Anthony DeSclafani: The 26-year-old impressed last season, going 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP in 123.1 innings. He missed all of April and May with an oblique strain after throwing 184.2 innings in 2015, but he made the best of his 20 starts in 2016. His K/BB ratio jumped from 2.7 in his rookie season to 3.5 last season, and he’ll have a chance to prove he can keep it there with a full season as the Reds’ number one starter.
- Brandon Finnegan: In his first season as a starter, Finnegan put together 172 solid innings for the Reds. He pitched to a 10-11 record, and posted a 3.98 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, and kept opposing hitters to a .236 average. His troubling 1.5 HR/9 and 4.4 BB/9 are signs for concern, but the 23-year-old still has plenty of time to develop as a starter. Finnegan will start out of the number two spot in the rotation, with a chance to improve his worth as a major league starter in 2017.
- Scott Feldman: Every team amidst a rebuild typically has at least one guy that can go out there and eat innings for the club as their younger players develop. For the Reds in 2017, that guy is Scott Feldman. The 34-year-old pitched out of the bullpen for Houston and Toronto last season but is no stranger to starting. He has surpassed 180 innings three times in his career and would be a huge help to the Reds if he can reach that mark once again in 2017. Feldman will pitch out of the number three spot to start the season.
- Robert Stephenson: The 23-year-old has seen his top-prospect status crash and burn over the past two season as he has failed to fix his control issues. While his changeup and curveball kept their effectiveness after reaching the majors, his fastball did very little to stop opposing hitters. In eight starts last season Stephenson posted a 6.08 ERA and 1.622 WHIP. He’s still young and will have to compete for a rotation spot in spring training, but Stephenson should have another chance to prove that he can be an effective starter at the major league level.
- Amir Garrett: The top pitching prospect in the Reds’ system is a longshot to start the season in the bigs, but I think the talented lefty will win the number five spot. Garrett has just one minor league option remaining, so there isn’t much risk in seeing what he can do as a major league starter. He’ll turn 25 in May, and though he has yet to log a full season in Triple-A, he could be a solid starter at the back of the rotation for the Cincinnati Reds.
With just one starter over the age of 26, the Reds will have one of the youngest rotations to start the season. They’re not expected to compete in 2017, but we could be seeing these guys in the rotation for years to come. The Reds start the season on April 3rd against the Philadelphia Phillies.