Cessa, 31, opened the year in the Reds’ rotation but was bounced from the starting staff after just six appearances, during which time he was tagged for 26 runs in 25 innings. He made one appearance out of the bullpen before being designated for assignment and subsequently released.
While he’s since latched on with both the Rockies and Nationals on a pair of minor league deals, he hasn’t fared well in either organization. Cessa pitched 21 1/3 innings with the Rockies’ top affiliate and 20 2/3 innings with the Nats’ Triple-A club, yielding an ERA north of 8.00 during both stints. He’s battled uncharacteristic command issues in both the big leagues and minors this year, and he’s been extremely homer-prone in Triple-A, serving up an average of 1.93 round-trippers per nine innings pitched.
Prior to the 2023 season, Cessa had found success in the bullpen, primarily serving as a long reliever with the Yankees, who traded him to the Reds at the 2021 deadline. From 2019-22, the righty logged 248 innings of 3.77 ERA ball, striking out 19.8% of his opponents against a solid 8.2% walk rate and inducing grounders at an above-average 48.2% clip. The Reds moved him to the rotation late last year and gave him 10 starts, during which he posted a respectable 4.30 ERA with more concerning secondary marks that pointed to some regression (albeit not to anywhere near this extent).
Cessa could still catch on with another team on a minor league deal between now and season’s end. However, given the extent of his struggles, he’d have a difficult time pitching his way back to the big leagues on a postseason contender — and non-contenders may prefer to give those innings to younger options. If that’s it for his 2023 season, Cessa will head back to the market this winter in search of a minor league deal, hoping for an opportunity to put a forgettable ’23 season behind him and get back to his 2019-22 form.