Raisel Iglesias pitched the best game of his career on Wednesday night, allowing two hits and a run over the course of eight innings against Atlanta. The right handed had three walks and five strikeouts in the game to go along with five ground balls, 16 fly balls, six line drives and three pop ups.
In two big league starts this season, Iglesias has a 2.77 ERA in 13.0 innings with five walks and nine strikeouts. With Louisville his ERA is 3.80 in 21.1 innings with seven walks and 11 strikeouts. Overall he’s had 12 walks and 20 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. His ERA has been strong between the two stops and his walk rate has been good as well. The strikeout rate has been rather low between the two stops with just a 5.24 strikeout-per-9-innings rate.
Strikeouts aren’t everything and pitchers can be successful without them, but very few can be with a strikeout rate below 6.0 and when we add in a solid, but not great walk rate, it makes it more difficult. Fortunately, the Reds have a great defense, and that is going to help a whole lot. With that said, there’s plenty for Iglesias to work on. He’s had problems finding a way to put hitters away and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is below the 2.0 threshold that is a minimum of what you want your pitchers to be at.
With the Reds only needing a 5th starter one time between today and June 6th, resulting in the team moving Michael Lorenzen to the bullpen temporarily in an effort to help keep his innings limit down, it doesn’t make sense to keep Iglesias in the big leagues right now. Like Lorenzen, he also needs to have his innings monitored and limited over the course of the year. Would he be an upgrade over Jason Marquis? Most people would certainly say yes, and I’d agree strongly with that. At the same time, right now, the team isn’t going to see much of a difference over the course of a few starts between the two guys.
Sending Iglesias to Triple-A to refine his game in a setting where you can better control the situations with his pitch selection and innings over the next few weeks makes a lot of sense. He’s got work to do if the team wants to keep him as a starter. He needs repetitions and he won’t get those working out of the bullpen in Cincinnati, even in the short term. The organization has been limiting his pitch totals all season. He’s made six starts this year. Twice he’s topped 76 pitches. The big league club needs someone who can go out and throw 90-100 pitches each start. Iglesias may be able to do that, but it seems obvious that the team doesn’t want him to do that at this point.
At some point this season the Reds will bring Iglesias up to stay. Whether it’s in a rotation spot, a bullpen spot or a bit of both, it’s going to happen. His arm is too good to only bring him up for spot starts once a month when the pitching staff as a whole is having struggles (Marquis – the bullpen in general), but right now I’m just not sure is the time to make that happen. There’s work to be done for Iglesias still and with his usage limits, sending him to the minor leagues right now seems like the best plan of action.