Since Homer Bailey went to the DL with a strained flexor mass, the Cincinnati Reds have been forced to pull from their very limited resource of minor league starting pitchers, which means that David Holmberg will be making his second start of the season for the Reds.
It’s hard to imagine that Holmberg could do much worse than he did his first start when he takes the ball on Thursday, but it’s still a possibility given the limited upside of the southpaw soft-tosser. Holmberg didn’t make it out of the third inning in his debut start this year against the hapless Chicago Cubs and gave up three home runs in the process.
He is considered a top 10 prospect in the Reds’ farm system, and if that is indeed true, the Reds are in trouble because Holmberg is not a major league starter. When the Reds traded for Holmberg in a three-team deal before the season that dealt veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, he was probably as good of a minor league starter as the Reds could get. But after his first season at Triple-A in which the 23-year-old has been battered in 17 starts, its hard to believe that Holmberg was the best the Reds could get for Hanigan.
Holmberg has pitched 87-plus innings at Triple-A this year, posting a 1-6 record with a 4.64 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. To think that this is the best pitcher the Reds can summons this late in the year for a spot start is not exactly a positive for the franchise, who do have handful of Double-A and below starting pitchers who should graduate to the majors one day.
The last spot start the Reds needed an arm to make was filled by Dylan Axelrod, who is also a soft-tosser but fared well in Colorado last week. With Axelrod unavailable due to short rest, the Reds are relying on Holmberg. But whether it’s Axelrod or Holmberg, the limited options that the Reds have for spot starts right now make them look desperate.