It’s probably lined up the way it should be lined up for the Cincinnati Reds — Tony Cingrani is scheduled to start tomorrow for the Reds and Mat Latos is set for what is most likely his final minor league rehab start tomorrow as well.
At this point, a complete game shutout might not be enough for Cingrani to remain in the rotation when Latos finally joins the big club. It’s not that Cingrani has been particularly bad in his nine starts in 2014 (4.01 ERA despite a 1.46 WHIP). It’s just that the replacement for Latos — Alfredo Simon — has been that good (7-3 with a 3.03 ERA in 11 starts).
The Reds will be tempted to move either Simon or Cingrani to the bullpen, but at this point in what has proven to be a largely uninspiring season for the Reds, the team’s best bet may be to keep both Simon and Cingrani as starters, with Cingrani starting in the minors.
Cingrani has relieved with the Reds (eight appearances) and served as a closer in college, but he has just one appearance as a reliever in 45 minor league games. Making Cingrani a lefty out of the pen might seem like a logical idea, but it’s not — it’s a bad one. Cingrani will most likely have to be a front-end starter in the Reds’ rotation after the 2015 season. Developing him as anything other than a front-end starter now would be self-defeating, even though Manny Parra and Sean Marshall are having awful 2014 seasons in the Reds’ bullpen so far.
The pressure Cingrani feels in his start tomorrow against the San Francisco Giants might revive that highly competitive, snarling youngster who has the potential to blow away every hitter he faces. A shutdown performance may be the only way he continues to keep his job this year in the Reds’ rotation.
But if even that isn’t enough to keep Cingrani in the Reds’ rotation for now, his minor league option would provide him with the perfect opportunity to hone his craft as a big league starter for the future now that he has a better understanding of what it will take to succeed as one.