When the Dodgers acquired Tony Cingrani from the Reds just before the trade deadline, it was largely an afterthought. With another lefty joining the club in Tony Watson, as well as the blockbuster trade for Yu Darvish, it’s understandable that he didn’t get much attention.
Looking back on the season now, Cingrani was the best acquisition the Dodgers made during the season and maybe going forward as well.
Cingrani’s performance this year ranged from dominant to decent. He was critical down the stretch in lefty on lefty situations and, with Watson, did a great job of limiting any damage. Take away his first appearance (3 runs over an inning), and he finished the season throwing 18.1 innings with an ERA of 1.47 and no home runs allowed.
He threw a majority of the time, in the seventh inning or later with the Dodgers in the lead, which tells you a lot about what the team thought of him and his ability to pitch in high leverage situations. In the playoffs, Cingrani didn’t allow a run until the World Series. He posted a 1.80 ERA over seven appearances, and the only run he did allow was when he threw his season-high of three innings in an outing.
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With all that in mind, I’m going to give Cingrani an A- for his season grade with the Dodgers. He did everything they asked of him in his time with the team and is still learning how to be a reliever. If Cingrani and the Dodgers can reach an agreement in arbitration, he could be a huge part of the bullpen next year and beyond.
Cingrani was supposed to be a front end of the rotation starter when he came into the league. After not blossoming into that, he made a move to the pen.
The issue may have been more with his usage than his ability, especially after what the Dodgers transformed him into. In this article by Fangraph’s Jeff Sullivan, he explains that Cingrani was using his fastball more than almost anyone in the league while not using his slider nearly enough. Those adjustments certainly made all the difference.
On top of that, when you look at the adjustments he tried to make with the Reds, it’s no wonder he wasn’t improving. In this article from February of the year by Fangraph’s Travis Sawchik, he highlighted Cingrani’s offseason work on a new cutter.
Rather than adjusting what he had, he added something new. Normally, that wouldn’t be weird, but when you throw your fastball over 85% of the time, it doesn’t matter too much what you throw the other pitches.
In the end, he had a great year for Los Angeles and will hopefully be a part of the future and get this team back to a World Series.