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After steady 2015, DeSclafani shows promise

Righty proved reliable in first year with Reds, plans to work on curveball

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds traded starting pitcher Mat Latos to the Marlins for two prospects on the final day of the 2014 Winter Meetings, it was correctly viewed as a cost-saving move. Before the 2015 season was over, it was already clear that the Reds benefited most from the deal because of Anthony DeSclafani.

A 25-year-old right-handed starter, DeSclafani started the season as somewhat untested. He finished it as the Reds' most dependable -- and consistent -- rotation member.

"In the end, the kid topped the 180-innings mark, went all the way through, made all of his starts, and we think the world of this guy," Reds manager Bryan Price said after DeSclafani's final start of the season on Sept. 30. "He's going to have a terrific career in Cincinnati. He finally really did pitch a full Major League season, and it will pay dividends down the road."

DeSclafani, who was acquired along with catcher Chad Wallach, was 9-13 with a 4.05 ERA, 55 walks, 194 hits allowed, 151 strikeouts and a 1.35 WHIP. Although some numbers didn't appear sparkling for a 98-loss last-place club that began its rebuild midseason, there was plenty to like overall. DeSclafani led all Major League rookies with 184 2/3 innings and was tied for first with 31 starts.

Meanwhile, Latos had a lackluster stint for Miami and was traded to the Dodgers on July 30. He was released in September before finishing the final week of the season with the Angels.

In 2014, DeSclafani worked 162 1/3 innings -- combining his big league stint for Miami, the Minor Leagues and Arizona Fall League. Fatigue caught up to him over his final three 2015 starts as he struggled, but his steadiness overall left him pleased.

"I'm glad I could do that most of the time this year," DeSclafani said in the final days of the season. "It's something I take pride in. I want to continue to do that. Obviously, I can get better at limiting damage in some games, which will help. I don't think it's necessary next year to put pressure on myself to try and do better. I think it's about consistency. … Repeating what I did this year would be awesome."

Looking ahead to 2016, DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias appear to be the only two from the last half-season's all-rookie rotation that are locks for the starting five. Homer Bailey is expected to join the group in May after he rehabs fully from Tommy John surgery.

DeSclafani was eagerly anticipating a rest at home this winter but was also excited about enhancing the tools at his disposal next season. According to pitch F/x data on Fangraphs, he used his curveball just 23 times this year, but it was a pitch he was trying to develop throughout.

"I want to bring that back next year and learn how to use it more effectively from outing to outing," DeSclafani said. "I was talking to Tucker [Barnhart, a Reds catcher], most of the year it was always a pitch I wanted to progress with. We kind of throw it in counts where it wouldn't hurt us, and I'd try to flip it in there for a strike. It's been an average Major League curveball.

"I want to learn how to throw with the curveball now that it can be a strikeout pitch."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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