Last night Jon Moscot got the start for the Cincinnati Reds and unfortunately lasted just two outs into the first inning before separating his non-pitching shoulder while tagging out a base runner. The good news is that it’s not his pitching shoulder. The bad news is that he’s going to miss time as he recovers from the injury. As if the Reds didn’t already have enough injuries, another one is added.
So, the question is: Who should come up to replace him? To answer that we always look at the 40-man roster first. There are four starters in the minor leagues that are on the 40-man roster right now. Amir Garrett, David Holmberg, Keyvius Sampson and Josh Smith. Garrett is in Daytona, so he’s off the list. The rest of the guys are now in Triple-A and could be options.
David Holmberg started for Louisville last night, so he lines up well with the spot in the rotation. He’s got a 4.46 ERA for Louisville this season in 72.2 innings and opposing hitters are hitting .305/.373/.442 against him this season with 32 walks and 45 strikeouts. He’s been better of late, posting a 2.61 ERA in his last six games with 12 walks and 26 strikeouts over 38.0 innings. Opposing hitters are still batting .282/.333/.416 against him though. Despite being a lefty, left handers are crushing him this year. Holmberg has big league experience, but he’s struggled in his 33.2 big league innings.
Keyvius Sampson began his season in Pensacola, making eight starts before getting the call up to Louisville for his most recent start (he pitched in Triple-A in both 2012 and 2013 for the Padres). He’s got a shiny 2.17 ERA between the two stops in 49.2 innings, but he’s got 26 walks to go with 46 strikeouts. The stuff is there for the right hander, but he struggles to throw strikes and among the group from the Bats, he’s got the worst track record in the upper minor leagues. He last pitched on Saturday, so he would need a bit of a longer layoff, but could pitch on a few extra days of rest.
Josh Smith reached the big leagues earlier this season, but he never actually got into a game. The right hander has four starts in Pensacola and eight in Louisville where he’s posted a 3.08 ERA between the two stops. Over 73.0 innings he has just 13 walks and he’s struck out 59 batters. He’s easily the oldest of the group, 27-years-old. He pitched on Sunday, so he could pitch on one extra day of rest and be in line to step in.
The wild card could be Robert Stephenson. It’s a long shot, given that he’s not on the 40-man roster and he’s only in Double-A. With that said, he’s pitched very well lately, sans his most recent start. He’s easily got better stuff than the guys in Triple-A, and when he’s on, which he has been a lot more often than he hasn’t been over the last month, he’s also a better pitcher. He could give the Reds the best chance to win games today, but he could also struggle if he begins to battle his control again. Having to send him back to the minors if he does struggle would waste an option in a lost season for the club. There’s a lot of risk in this kind of move and the reward may not be worth it even if he comes up and is ready as he isn’t going to turn the team into a contender as there are just too many other problems to overcome.
Both Holmberg and Sampson struggle to throw enough strikes at times and have poor strikeout-to-walk ratios this season. Josh Smith has a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio and while his stuff isn’t flashy (neither is that of Holmberg), he will get the best use of the Reds outstanding defense by keeping the free passes down. He’s the guy that makes the most sense to me to step in for Moscot.