When the Cincinnati Reds realized that Mat Latos wouldn’t be sufficiently recovered from off-season elbow surgery to start the season in the rotation, Alfredo Simon was ready to claim Latos’ spot until closer Aroldis Chapman was knocked out of action in spring training by a line drive to the face.
At that point, the Reds looked like the team was ready to bring waiver-wire pickup Brett Marshall into the rotation mix and anoint Simon the closer — that is, until Marshall landed on the 60-day DL before the season started.
Simon was then installed in the rotation to begin the season. His start against the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon was his third of the year, and it was another good one. Simon yielded just two earned runs in 15 innings in his first two starts. His command of a running, 92-mph two-seamer, a biting slider and Bugs Bunny curve ball is a self-evident testament that Simon is no less of a fluke as a starter as he was as a middle reliever for the Reds the past two years (sub-3.00 ERA in 99 appearances).
Simon was given the chance to start (and also close) with the Baltimore Orioles before he joined the Reds. He did not enjoy the same success in Baltimore: 5.18 ERA in 184 innings. He pitched his last year with the Orioles in 2011, which had started in turmoil for Simon after he fatally shot a relative during a New Year’s celebration in the Dominican Republic.
Simon was eventually cleared of criminal charges in the shooting. The Orioles waived Simon before the start of the 2012 season, and the Reds claimed him. With the past behind him now, the 32-year-old Simon has seized every opportunity given to him by the Reds to the point that the six innings of one-run ball he tossed against the Cubs Friday afternoon was just another confirmation that Simon is one of the most versatile pitchers in the major leagues right now.