Whenever an “underdog” story begins to unfold, it’s only a matter a time before the sports world gets behind it. A fan’s rooting interest is drawn by default, representing the beauty of the big picture. It’s the reason March Madness can rival even the Super Bowl in anticipation; we relish the opportunity to witness any player or any team prove its doubters wrong.
The Cincinnati Reds‘ future staff ace Tony Cingrani continues to do just that. Now the southpaw had his fair share of supporters when finally called upon to join the starting rotation last season, but the detractors formed most of the population.
Ladies and gentlemen: the Cingrani movement is moving at a lethargic pace, and it’s time the lefty escapes his underground status. His performance on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays can only add donations to the cause.
Time for some double-take stats; In 2013, Cingrani made 18 starts. Over the course of those outings, the third-round pick in the 2011 draft (did someone say absolute steal?) led the majors with 10.1 K/9 rate while allowing more than three runs in just one of those trips to the hill.
If double-takes aren’t enough to quench one’s thirst, how about some statistical insanity for size. This list includes some of MLB‘s truly elite:
Consecutive starts of surrendering five runs or less:
Clayton Kershaw: 15, Cliff Lee: 8, Felix Hernandez: 5, Justin Verlander: 5
Well, Cingrani currently sits atop that throne with an outrageous 21. To put that into perspective, I’ll break out the trusty calculator. 18 rookie-starts plus three this season is every single start of his career. To schedule the parade even further, teams haven’t even surpassed the five total-hits threshold in any of those tilts. That’s a feat that goes unmatched over the last 100 years of MLB. Impressed yet?
Can the arm angle be this deceptive for a pitcher who relies heavily on his low-90s fastball (the leading argument from his past prosecutors)? It’s a bonus, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. To anybody who has followed the case, it has become evident that Cingrani’s location of that fastball has become a league-wide envy.
On this particular afternoon, one also realizes his secondary offerings are beginning to catch up. When they do, hello Randy Johnson 2.0. (Yes, that just happened).
To top it all off, how many pitchers do you think run full throttle down the line to earn an infield single? Put Cingrani on the enormous list of five; while you’re at it, add him to the future Cy Young directory as well.
Cingrani never should have received the underdog label in the first place, but it’s been fun watching him make the naysayers eat their words. Hey future, put your shades on.