While the Reds are preparing to welcome Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan back to their rotation perhaps by the end of the month, manager Bryan Price offered a less encouraging update on top starter Anthony DeSclafani, per Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“[DeSclafani] is behind,” said Price. “He initiated another throwing program that will take him close to the time that Homer and Finnegan might be ready, that last week or week and a half of June, he may be approaching his mound time. … I wouldn’t anticipate him until probably around August (in Cincinnati). That would be realistic.”
The 27-year-old DeSclafani has yet to pitch in 2017 due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament suffered back in Spring Training. The Reds initially stated that DeSclafani would be shut down from throwing for a month, but he didn’t begin a throwing program until May 19. While reports at that time suggested that the condition of DeSclafani’s UCL had markedly improved, it now seems that the talented young righty will remain sidelined longer than the Reds had hoped. It should be noted that Price made no mention of a setback or any sort of aggravation of the injury.
Both Finnegan and Bailey will make rehab starts for Double-A Pensacola this weekend, Groeschen notes, which is certainly better news for a Reds team that has received an MLB-worst 5.81 ERA from its rotation. (The next-worst team, the Phillies, are at a distant 5.17 mark.) With DeSclafani and Bailey on the shelf all season and Finnegan having been limited to just 10 innings, the Reds have relied on veterans Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to anchor the staff while a hodgepodge of less-experienced arms have filled in the cracks.
Feldman has proven to be a shrewd late-winter pickup, tossing 72 2/3 innings of 4.09 ERA ball across 13 starts. Arroyo, on the other hand, has been rocked for a 6.52 ERA, though he’s at least managed to soak up 63 2/3 innings in the wake of the myriad injuries that have beset the Cincinnati pitching staff. Tim Adleman’s 49 innings rank third on the team, and of the 10 players to start a game for the Reds this year, Adleman is one of three with an ERA under 5.00 (Feldman, Finnegan are the others). Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis and Lisalverto Bonilla have been the most frequent alternatives in the rotation, though each has an ERA north of 7.00.
However, in spite of the dismal work from Cincinnati starters, the Reds find themselves just one game under .500 and two games back from the division lead in a surprisingly weak NL Central. Cincinnati’s bullpen has been one of the best in the game, and only five clubs have managed to score more runs than the Reds, who are also tied for the game’s sixth-best wRC+ (105). That the Reds have managed to stay afloat despite losing the majority of their projected rotation for the bulk of 2017 thus far only makes the return of Finnegan and Bailey more crucial as the team plots its course with the trade deadline roughly seven weeks away.