The Cincinnati Reds received good news Monday night with the successful rehab start of starting pitcher Mat Latos, who will most likely be making his season debut for the Reds the next time he pitches.
The Reds also had bad news Monday night: Tony Cingrani is struggling mightily (4.68 ERA). After another poor outing, the writing is on the wall for Cingrani to be the odd man out of the Reds’ rotation with the return of Latos.
Alfredo Simon converted from middle reliever to replace Latos in the rotation at the outset of the season and pitched much better than Cingrani. With an 8-3 record and a 3.15 ERA, Simon has dispelled any doubt that he should remain in the rotation when Latos returns.
Even if Cingrani had made it tougher for the Reds to make this decision by pitching better than he has, there’s no question that Cingrani needs more development as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues before he is ready to become a mainstay of the Reds’ rotation.
Because Cingrani has options left, the decision is made even easier because he can be sent down without complications, but the Reds will still undoubtedly be tempted to move Cingrani to the bullpen instead of continuing his development as a starter.
With the Reds’ bullpen lacking any left-handed effective presence outside of closer Aroldis Chapman, the Reds may very well decide to shift Cingrani to the bullpen. Cingrani had closer experience in college and has eight big league relief appearances, but the Reds’ undeniable intent for Cingrani is for him to develop as a starter — all but one of his 45 minor league appearances has been as a starter.
So if Cingrani is going to be a starter, let him remain a starter for now in the minors. After all, what real difference would Cingrani as a reliever make for the 2014 Reds as they struggle to even reach .500 this year?