When the Reds found Dan Straily on the scrap heap, there is no way that they could have thought in their most broad of imaginations that the right-hander would be eying a long-term starting role.
However, when Bryan Price came out on Wednesday prior to the game and told Marty Brennaman that he can’t see a way that Straily is not part of the starting rotation next season, the inevitable became more official.
And why not? Straily has been one of the most consistent starters all season for the Reds, along with right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.
Early in the season, Straily was good, but had the look of a guy who may ultimately be a bullpen arm long-term. He was pitching fairly well, but was not efficient or going deep into games. He was nibbling the plate and throwing many more pitches than he should have. Straily has admitted that he was uneasy about the park dimensions and how it plays on a few different occasions.
Straily had 11 starts in May and June and averaged under six innings per start. The numbers were there, as he posted an ERA in the mid threes, but something was missing. Over the past couple of months, Straily has started attacking hitters. He is getting ahead and that makes all of the different. His walks have also dropped tremendously since he started attacking more, and he posted 8.67 K/BB ratio for August through five starts.
Straily has not only started changing locations, but also changing speeds and mixing in his four-seam and two-seam fastballs with his three other pitches, all of different velocities.
Now, since June 22, Straily has just one start that he hasn’t made it into the sixth and just one more that he failed to complete six. To no surprise, Straily’s ERA through July and August has dropped to just a tick over 2.40 for the span.
With that said, there is absolutely no reason for Straily not to be a staple of the rotation in 2017, along with DeSclafani and Homer Bailey after his Tommy John recovery.
It is also difficult to find a scenario where Brandon Finnegan has not earned another look in the rotation next season, despite some speculation that he may be a better fit as a reliever.
That would leave one more spot, barring injury, for a host of pitchers to make a run at. One has to think that Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen will be in the running if healthy. There are prospects in Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett there. Cody Reed and John Lamb will eventually get another look. Tim Adleman will still be there as well for depth.
As the Reds learned in 2016, injuries to pitchers will happen, so depth is always necessary. However, it is also nice to have the stability that it appears they will be viewing going into the 2017 season with four of the five starters in place.
The most unexpected coming in was Straily, but he has certainly worked throughout the season to carve that niche in place.