The Reds were already facing an uphill battle in 2017, but their road got even harder this year, as staff ace Anthony DeScalfani seems poised to miss the start of the season with a sore elbow. He has yet to see action in Spring Training, and an MRI confirmed a sprained UCL and he has been shut down for four weeks.
DeSclafani broke out in 2016 with a 3.28 in 20 starts after starting the year on the DL with an oblique problem. Advanced analytics aren’t super high on the righty, who combines a mediocre strikeout rate with a mediocre walk rate, mediocre velocity, and a below average groundball rate. Still, there’s no denying that he was effective last year, building on a pretty decent 2015. The 27 year old seemed like a good bet to start on Opening Day, especially after Homer Bailey had surgery to remove bone spurs.
The Reds will be hoping that their de facto ace won’t require surgery, but will have to stitch together a rotation out of spare parts for the second year in a row like some kind of Frankenstein monster. Brandon Finnegan will now probably get the nod on Opening Day, with reclamation projects Scott Feldman and, believe it or not, Bronson Arroyo one step closer to spots. Behind them, Cody Reed, Tim Adelman, and Robert Stephenson are also fighting for jobs.
The Reds are already projected to finish the season last in the NL Central and fished 13th in the National League last year in runs allowed. Any further bad news would likely be calamitous.