CINCINNATI — The Washington Nationals are experiencing something this weekend that few major league teams encounter — they will face three straight rookie starting pitchers in a three-game series.
The Cincinnati Reds are sending Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen against the Nationals this weekend, a three-man rookie parade to the mound.
It was already set that DeSclafani and Iglesias would pitch Friday and Saturday, but the Romper Room was completed for Sunday when it was revealed that Johnny Cueto and the inflammation in his arm will prevent him fromm starting Sunday. That meant the insertion of Lorenzen, with starter Jason Marquis going to the bullpen.
DeSclafani began the season in the rotation and Iglesias was added when Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery. And when Cueto experienced arm misery Lorenzen was put in place.
"I am very confident that the three pitchers who will start this series will be staples of our pitching staff in the years to come from what I’ve seen from these three kids," said manager Bryan Price. "There is development that is taking place and if they all settle in for the future, well, I think we’re seeing our future a little early. I know there is some education to come and they’ll learn some lessons along the way."
Catcher Brayan Pena, always a Picture of Positive, is anxious to help with the maturation of DeSclafani, 24, Iglesias, 25, and Lorenzen, 23.
"We know this was coming sooner or later because those guys have so much talent and they deserve this shot," said Pena. "I know all three are ready for the challenge and we trust them. We believe in what they can do."
Pena is impressed with the professional makeup of each one and sees similarities in all three of the righthanders.
"I love the way they handle themselves, the way they go about their business, the way they encourage themselves," said Pena. "They are similar in that they all like to compete, they prepare very well and they all believe in what they can do, that they belong in the big leagues."
Pena says all he can ask of them is that they pour 100 per cent out of their bodies and that all three do exactly that.
Asked to give a quick evaluation of each one, Pena provided a strength of character and strength of talent for each one.
DESCLAFANI, acquired in the off-season from the Miami Marlins in a trade for pitcher Mat Latos: "I love his courage. I’ve never seen anybody with more courage on the mound that that kid. He never backs down from any challenge. I love to see that from him.
IGLESIAS (signed after he defected from Cuba, as did Pena): "Expectations. He has so much expectations for himself. He expects to be good, to be a great pitcher in the big leagues. That’s all he talks about. He says, ‘I want to show them they didn’t make a mistake when they signed me and how much I appreciate the opportunity they’ve given me.’ Because of that, he expects a lot of himself."
LORENZEN (a first-round lottery pick, 38th overall, by the Reds in 2013): "He is very positive. He really believes that he is here for a reason, that God put him here to do something special. You have to respect that, you have to love that. It doesn’t matter how good he does or how bad he does he believes in himself. He has fun and enjoys what he does, but he is a very special kid. He is exciting to watch and he is positive, always positive."