Lefty Tony Cingrani a Tonic for the Reds

The Cincinnati Reds are leaning on 24-year-old left-hander Tony Cingrani to help them weather the storm of injuries to their pitching staff at the start of the 2014 season. He could be a big boost to the Reds’ hopes while Mat Latos is out for several more days and Alfredo Simon takes up space in the starting rotation in his stead.
The big blow to the Reds’ pitching was the gruesome injury sustained by closer Aroldis Chapman near the end of spring training. He suffered facial fractures and a concussion when hit by a line drive off the bat of Salvador Perez in a meaningless game. He will be out until some time in May, and it will be a complicated road back to the mound. The Reds are also without relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton for about another week.
Cingrani is a bit of an odd one for a starter, as he throws his fastball almost exclusively–82% of his offerings last season were fastballs. But he has a good one, sitting at 91-93 mph with good movement and he hides the ball well from hitters. He uses a good changeup, but his breaking pitch is a long-running work in progress which may ultimately land him in a bullpen because of his limited repertoire.
Doug Thorburn, a man I respect who’s been breaking down pitcher mechanics at Baseball Prospectus for years is of the belief that once teams see him more and hitters can get a better bead on his release point he’ll be unable to sustain a near-29% strikeout rate. He’s right about that; the exposure should lead to some pullback in his effectiveness. But in the meantime, right now when the Reds are without Latos, he should get several starts in April and could do something like he did last night against the Cardinals, with a 7-inning, 9-strikout outing, giving up no runs. He gave up two hits–singles–and two walks, and wound up picking one of those runners off first base. (It wasn’t a great move and Matt Adams slipped on wet dirt trying to get back to the base).
But Tony Cingrani is an intriguing pitcher to follow in the National League Central this season. If you want to see a starting pitcher who works with two pitches and gets his share of strikeouts, he’s one to watch. He gave the Reds a very good game in the second game of their opening series with the Cardinals, as the Reds won only his start in the three games at Great American Ballpark.

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