On Wednesday evening, Alfredo Simon picked up his National League-leading 10th win as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates – not too bad for a guy who wasn’t even expected to be in the starting rotation prior to Spring Training. Not only is Simon producing quality starts for the Reds, but he is also receiving All-Star and Cy Young talk from around the league.
To properly understand just how impressive this season has been for Simon, you must travel back to 2011. After completing that season with the Baltimore Orioles, Simon was designated for assignment. His career in Baltimore never developed in the four seasons he was with the team, failing to post a season with an ERA below 4.90. He compiled an 8-12 record with a 5.18 ERA in 78 games. Down on his luck and looking for a fresh start, Simon was in search of a team to take a chance on him.
Enter the Reds and general manager Walt Jocketty. Willing to take a risk on Simon has proved to be one of the most unheralded moves Jocketty has made in his tenure with the Reds. In just over two full seasons with Cincinnati, Simon has posted a 19-9 record with a 2.88 ERA in 113 appearances. He has been a saving grace for Jocketty and the Reds regardless of how they used him — as a reliever or as a starter.
For Simon, he is living a story of perseverance and success. Instead of shutting down following a less than stellar start to his professional career, Simon restarted. Not only has he become a strong pitcher in his own right, but he has traveled from a player without a team to a guy in the discussion for the league’s highest pitching honor. It’s a story that gives you chills and reminds us just how wonderful the game of baseball can be — especially for underdogs.
While Simon deserves all the credit in the world, we would be in the wrong to exclude the impact of Bryan Price from the discussion. Talk to any pitcher who has played under Price’s teachings and they will testify to the impact he has on their careers. The same can arguably be said for Simon, a pitcher who drastically improved once being paired with Price as his pitching coach.
Becoming the first in the league to 10 wins is a big deal for any pitcher, but for Alfredo Simon, it’s a milestone that many never thought possible. And for the Reds, it’s just another example of the extreme importance of Simon to the organization.