Starting the season opener for the Triple-A Louisville Bats, Cingrani turned in what may have been the most impressive pitching performance of the young season, including the near-perfecto tossed by Yu Darvish.
Cingrani, who made his Major League debut in 2012, struck out each of the first seven Toledo Mud Hens and 13 of the first 15 batters he faced. It wasn’t until the sixth inning when Hens first baseman Jordan Lennerton drew a lead-off walk that Toledo managed their first baserunner. Cingrani promptly retired the next three hitters in order, including fanning Quintin Berry for the second time in the game.
It would have been interesting to see what would have happened in this game had it not been Opening Night. As it was, Cingrani was lifted following the sixth, just 84 pitches into his night and with 14 strikeouts under his belt. The walk to Lennerton was the only baserunner he surrendered. Toledo wouldn’t get their first hit until the eighth.
Just to underscore how ridiculous the pitcher win stat is, however, reliever Kevin Whelan inherited a 3-0 lead into the ninth, but surrendered three unearned runs, thanks to a Jason Donald error, to rob Cingrani of the victory. The Bats won the game 4-3 in walk-off fashion when Felix Perez took Luis Marte over the right field wall on the second pitch of the bottom of the frame.
Despite yielding two hits and two walks in his inning of work, Whelan picks up the win for Louisville. Meanwhile all Cingrani gets is a no-decision for his final line, which stood at six innings, zero hits, zero runs, one walk, and 14 strikeouts.
Cingrani came in at number 63 on our pre-season top 115 prospect list, which was significantly higher that Baseball America had him ranked (82). After a Minor League campaign that saw Cingrani post a combined 1.73 ERA across two levels while ranking up 172 striksouts in 146 innings, the lefty made his way to the bullpen with the Reds. He got into three games for Cincinnati and fanned nine batters in just five innings of work.
There have been concerns as to whether his secondary pitches will develop enough that he can stick as a starter, but with the results he’s been getting in the minors, the Reds are wise to allow him to continue to work in that role.