The few position battles that were happening within the Reds spring training camp are just about over. When last we visited this topic, the only true battles happening were for the back of the rotation and the bullpen, with a potential for a shortstop scrap. Some players have been removed from the mix, while others have come out of nowhere to win the nod. 


SP No. 4 and No. 5 (and No. 3)

This won’t be much of a prediction, mainly because it’s already been determined. But getting there was not without its curiosities. 

There were several names in this mix for these pivotal spots on the roster. One was David Holmberg, who was removed from consideration earlier this week when the Reds made nine more cuts. Holmberg was 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA over three games and seven innings this spring, but it wasn’t enough to get him to April in a Reds uniform.

Bryan Price explained the decision to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer:

Having this type of roster and this situation, we had to make some calls fairly early in spring training as far as roles and probabilities with our group. We don’t have the ability to give everybody the amount of innings needed to completely evaluate them in spring training. We had to make some decisions.

Since being acquired in the deal for Mat Latos, Anthony DeSclafani has seemingly been a favorite to occupy one of the spots. DeSclafani has pitched a total of nine innings in three starts. He’s sporting a 0-0 record with a 3.00 ERA. He’s got five strikeouts and three walks in that time.

And, according to Faythe rotation “is set.” DeSclafani is included, along with Raisel Iglesias and the dark horse, Jason Marquis.

If you haven’t heard what Marquis has done this spring, it’s been a shocker. But while impressive, the confidence surrounding this situation can’t be that high. It’s been a long time since Marquis has experienced success in the MLB

In 20 starts last year with the San Diego Padres, Marquis went 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA. He surrendered 111 hits in 117 innings pitched and finished with a WHIP of 1.52. Currently, his line in spring is 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. That’s after four starts and 14 innings total. 

It’s hard to get excited about Marquis, at least until this performance transitions to when the games count. And frankly, there weren’t many better options. If not him, it would probably have been Paul Maholm, who has managed a 1-0, 2.45 line this spring. 

Meanwhile, Iglesias hasn’t given up an earned run in 7.2 innings pitched and has six strikeouts in that span. Price explained to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Cincinnati Enquirer:

He’s a four-pitch pitcher who really got us excited in Instructional League and fall league with his command of four pitches,” Price said. “He’s got velocity, movement. He’s quick to the plate. He’s athletic. He’s that type of pitcher that we feel should be given the opportunity to start based on those intangibles.

I like Iglesias to take Marquis’ spot when Bailey returns.



In the first look at this battle, I projected that Zack Cozart would probably win what was hardly a battle for his position because the Reds won’t be looking for offense out of the No. 8 spot. They were likely to stick with his second-best WAR of any shortstop in baseball, and they did. Price clarified in the aforementioned article:

I like Zack Cozart as our shortstop. I do. What we did with Eugenio is we went out and got the two best players we would be able to get in the (Alfredo) Simon trade,” Price said of the trade that brought Suarez and former first-rounder Jonathon Crawford to Cincinnati. “We look at him as an outstanding defensive player, which is the primary concern with a shortstop, the defensive aspect of the position. And we felt that he had a lot of room to grow as an offensive player.

That battle was over before it started, but the Reds will still have nice options off the bench should anything happen to their Gold Glove shortstop. 



The rotation battle victors easily gave this one away. Tony Cingrani is going to the bullpen, where the Reds hope to maximize his heavy fastball arsenal. The news obviously came as a surprise to Cingrani, who, according to John Fay, wasn’t pleased to say the least.

But because of his arsenal of fastballs, it’s a sound strategy, as Fangraphs‘ Mike Petriello quickly pointed out in a recent article in which he illustrates how no one in the game from 2013-2014 utilized the fastball more:

      Fastball usage, 2013-14, min. 150 IP (179 total pitchers)

  1. Cingrani, 78.6%
  2. Danny Salazar, 68.6%
  3. Juan Nicasio, 68.2%
  4. Shelby Miller, 67.7%
  5. Kevin Gausman, 66.6%

The article points out that in that span of time, Cingrani was No. 12 in strikeout percentage, so he clearly has the ability to miss bats. And when you consider the loss of Sean Marshall, another left arm in the bullpen becomes vital.

The rest of the bullpen should look somewhat similar to last year, with the addition of Burke Badenhop and possibly prospect standout Michael Lorenzen.



There was some competition for the bench by default. And if Brennan Boesch wasn’t in the plans before spring training, he most assuredly is now. Boesch is killing it. In 29 at-bats, Boesch is slashing .448/.448/.793. He has a team-high three home runs and seven RBI. He’s recorded 13 hits in 11 games.

It’s hard to envision a scenario in which he doesn’t make the club. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for teammate Jason Bourgeois, who suffered a fractured shoulder. Prior to that, he was slashing .350/.350/.500.

It was this guy’s time. Bourgeois slashed .278/.328/.363 last year in Triple-A. Unfortunately, he’s out for at least six weeks and will probably go to Louisville when he’s healthy. 

Chris Dominguez is looking like a favorite to make it out of spring. He’s second behind only Boesch in at-bats and is slashing .259/.276/.481 with one home run and five RBI. He does lead the team in strikeouts with eight, though. 

And with that, the Reds appear nearly ready to assemble their Opening Day roster.


Stats courtesy of unless noted otherwise and are current as of March 19. 

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