Reds Add Veteran Rotation Depth

Every team adds pitching depth to their AAA affiliates from the pool of veterans looking to extend their careers. Over the past couple of weeks Cincinnati has signed LHP Paul Maholm and RHP Jason Marquis who are both trying to make it back to the MLB after coming back from serious injuries.

Cincinnati has turnover in their rotation after dealing a couple of last year’s starters this offseason. They have multiple candidates to fill the voids, but every team wants veteran talent available at the AAA level to provide organizational depth. The Reds added a couple to fill this bill over the past two weeks.

Paul Maholm, who is recovering from a torn ACL, signed a contract yesterday that will start his efforts to get back to the MLB level at Louisville. The 32 year-old southpaw has made 273 MLB appearances, mostly as a starter with Pittsburgh. He cracked the 4.00 ERA level a couple of seasons with the Pirates and again in his first season after leaving which was split between the Cubs and Braves in 2013. Last year the Dodgers ran him out to the mound 30 times, primarily from the bullpen before injury ended his season in early August.

Maholm is a finesse pitcher with a lifetime strikeout rate less than six per nine innings. No one will expect him on the opening day roster, but he has been a serviceable pitcher over his career and had probably the best season of his career in 2012 when he went 13-11/3.67 ERA. He’s also thrown more than 150 innings in eight different years with a personal best 206 IP in 2008.

Maholm’s signing came two weeks after the addition of another veteran, 36 year-old Jason Marquis who was released by the Phillies where he began a comeback from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has made 368 MLB appearances over 14 seasons, most recently in San Diego where he went 9-5/4.05 ERA in twenty 2013 starts. If Marquis makes it onto the Reds active roster this year it would be his ninth MLB uniform. He has managed a winning record over his career, going 121-114 with a mid-four ernie. Last season with the Phillies he went 3-1/4.63 in eight starts at AAA Lehigh Valley.

Both pitchers will vie for a spot in the Cincinnati rotation during spring training, but those jobs figure to go to some younger pitchers. One will likely be Tony Cingrani’s who turned in an impressive rookie season in 2013, but struggled through injuries that short-circuited his sophomore campaign. Mat Latos trade return Anthony DeSclafani seems to be the front runner for the five-man spot with David Holmberg, a trade return from Ryan Hanigan one year ago, also in the mix.

Meanwhile the Louisville rotation appears to bet getting set. Assuming Holmberg doesn’t make the opening day roster, he would be back with the Bats along with Dylan Axelrod. In the past Daniel Corcino has been one of the higher-rated pitching prospects in the system and figures to have a shot at a spot. Veteran Reds farm hand Pedro Villarreal has experience starting, but most of his action last year came out of the bullpen, which can also be said of newcomers Matt Magill and Keyvius Sampson. A wild card in the mix is Cuban defector Raisel Inglesias who has been touted as a potential starter, but could end up addressing needs in the Reds bullpen.

It’s a tough role for established MLBers Maholm and Marquis to try and carve out a niche in AAA at this point in their careers. Meanwhile the Reds will put them in reserve in case they are needed. It’s a call that they hope to get and one that Cincinnati hopes will be unnecessary in the 2015 season.

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