Tony Cingrani: Buy Or Sell?
Tony Cingrani‘s big league success has blown my mind. Back in 2012, I wrote him up at FanGraphs after scouting him in Huntsville. For me, the left-hander had the ceiling of a fourth starter with the floor of a relief pitcher. Not great in fantasy baseball circles, but excellent for a third round college pick.
Because Cingrani is with the Reds and not the Red Sox, few readers have taken the opportunity to throw the piece in my face like Boston fans after Will Middlebrooks blew up in 2012. Maybe they should. In just short of 110 career innings, Cingrani has struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings while posting an xFIP of 3.42.
Maintain those peripherals across a full season in 2014 and he’d be one of the top-20 starting pitchers in baseball from a numbers standpoint. So is it time to go all in on the under appreciated pitcher? Or, is it time to sell and cash in on a pitcher you scooped as an afterthought a couple of years ago?
Cingrani throws more fastballs than any starting pitcher not named Bartolo. At 81-plus percent, this one trick pony has no go to second offering. This is a long term problem. To continue being successful, Cingrani will prove himself as an anomaly, develop better off-speed pitches or fall back to earth. Obviously, there are questions marks with every scenario.
Faith would be easier for me to muster had I not seen him in person. I liked the deception. I liked the fact Cingrani was, “wild in the strike zone.” What I didn’t like was his fastball had little movement. If it doesn’t dart and/or dive, it’s difficult for me to trust the longevity of a pitcher’s fastball at the Major League level when hitters are so talented.
A boon to Cingrani’s value is his arm is as fresh as one from Rice University can be. Long known for being a factory for overused college arms whose arms fall off as professionals, his playing at a Junior College for two seasons helped limit exposure. At Rice, he threw 79 innings combined across his junior and senior years.
On the flip side, Cingrani has yet to throw more than 151 innings in a season as a professional. This low workload makes it difficult to envision his throwing 200 innings next season — especially with a walk rate of 3.70 per nine innings. In every league, one owner will see his high strikeout rate and believe Cingrani is an ace-in-the-making if only he had thrown the innings. Don’t be that guy.
If the Reds logjam at starting pitcher is resolved this off-season and Cingrani becomes viewed as a fixture in the rotation, his value may never be higher. I’d be itching to sell high after being Beachy’d in multiple leagues prior to 2012. In every instance, I’ll work to sell the shooting star before it fades and falls back to the ground.
3 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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