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Reds' rotation trio raring to go at Spring Training

DeSclafani, Bailey, Finnegan hoping for strong return from injuries
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Spring Training opens on Tuesday with the reporting of Reds pitchers and catchers, the healthy returns of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan will be paramount. As the team's young pitchers continue to establish themselves and progress, the three experienced starters are expected to provide innings and stability.

In each of the past two Spring Trainings, DeSclafani endured an injury. In 2016, after a left oblique strain, he was limited to 20 starts. Last spring, a sprained elbow ligament wiped out his entire season.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As Spring Training opens on Tuesday with the reporting of Reds pitchers and catchers, the healthy returns of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan will be paramount. As the team's young pitchers continue to establish themselves and progress, the three experienced starters are expected to provide innings and stability.

In each of the past two Spring Trainings, DeSclafani endured an injury. In 2016, after a left oblique strain, he was limited to 20 starts. Last spring, a sprained elbow ligament wiped out his entire season.

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A veteran with two 200-inning seasons and two no-hitters, Bailey was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow two springs ago. Just before camp opened in 2017, he had bone chips removed from the same elbow. Bailey made 24 combined starts from '16-17 and had a 6.47 ERA.

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Finnegan has had healthy springs and pitched 172 innings in 2016. But injuries to the teres major muscle near his left shoulder and surgery on his right shoulder limited him to four starts last season.

Not coincidentally, the Reds used 16 starting pitchers in 2017 -- the most in the National League. The rotation was last in the Majors in innings pitched and posted an NL-worst 5.55 ERA.

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DeSclafani, Bailey and Finnegan were all viewed as healthy after the season and had what the club considered "normal" offseasons. DeSclafani pitched in instructional league games and came away pleased with his performances. Bailey had a 3.58 ERA over his final seven starts and finished with seven innings in his last start of 2017. Finnegan was healed from his shoulder surgery and also had rehabbed his left arm. He doesn't turn 25 until April 14.

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All three pitchers are expected to begin camp this week without limitations. If they can remain healthy, the Reds have reason to feel better about their rotation, especially since no free-agent upgrades or trades were made.

DeSclafani, 27, pitched 184 2/3 innings over 31 starts in his first full year with the Reds in 2015. When he resumed starting in '16, 14 of his 20 starts were quality outings, and he began his season 6-0.

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Bailey, 31, was durable from 2012-13, when he pitched 208 innings with an NL-leading 33 starts and then 209 innings in 32 starts. But he's had three elbow surgeries since '14. Finnegan became a workhorse and ranked second to Dan Straily in innings pitched.

If all goes as expected, DeSclafani, Bailey and Finnegan would be viewed as locks in the rotation along with young ace-in-the-making Luis Castillo. The fifth spot is up for grabs among a cadre of youthful pitchers in Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson and others.

Workouts at the Reds' player-development complex begin on Wednesday, and the first chance to see the pitchers in game action comes on Feb. 23 at the Cactus League opener against the Indians.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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