Whether they realize it or not, Cincinnati Reds fans have been waiting to catch a glimpse of Raisel Iglesias ever since the Cuban right-hander signed on the dotted line last June. Iglesias, after all, is one of the guys the Reds plan to back-fill a rotation that lost two members over the winter and may lose more before next Spring Training opens. On Wednesday, Iglesias finally came out of the shadows to take the mound with Reds’ game against the Cleveland Indians on the line, and, well, the results were not quite what we’d hoped for.
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With the score tied at two after seven-and-a-half frames, Iglesias struck out one but gave up two walks and a hit along with uncorking two wild pitches and falling victim to Netftali Soto’s error at third base on a grounder that might have ended the inning. By the time Michael Martinez flied out to end the inning, two runs had come across the plate, and the Reds were not able to answer in the ninth inning.
Unlike countryman Aroldis Chapman, the Reds’ fire-balling closer, Iglesias is a control pitcher who does not blow hitters away but relies instead on controlling the strike zone to get outs. When he does not quite have his touch, as happened on Wednesday, he can be prone to some sloppy innings.
Manager Bryan Price, though, is not too concerned, at least this point. As C. Trent Rosencras reported for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Price figures that nerves got the better of the rookie, who has not pitched in a meaningful game in about two years:
"He was just erratic. I’ve seen him a lot out here and in the Arizona Fall League. He’s command guy. I think with it being his first big league game, he may have been a little nervous. He’ll be fine."
Iglesias’ development over the next month figures to have a significant impact on the Reds’ roster moves, because, although Price and general manager Walt Jocketty have said all along that the 24-year-old will be a starter in the Major Leagues, that doesn’t necessarily have to happen this year. If Iglesias continues to struggle, he could end up either in the Reds’ bullpen or in the rotation for one of Cincinnati’s minor league clubs. In either case, that would take one name out of the mix for the Big League rotation.
While his $27-million contract, spread over seven years, is not prohibitive to the Reds in terms of making other moves, it’s still a sizable enough investment that Price and Jocketty will want to start reaping some return soon. That’s particularly true since Iglesias will turn 25 on April 1, so he is likely to get plenty of work during the remainder of the Spring.