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Brushing up on Andre Rienzo

The background and repertoire of the pitching prospect expected to take Jake Peavy's start tonight

Andre Rienzo
Andre Rienzo

With reports that Jake Peavy is scratched tonight regardless of whether he's traded, the White Sox have called up Andre Rienzo to make the start. The Brazilian right-hander has decent stuff, but it remains to be seen whether it's enough to be a consistent starter in the major leagues.

The White Sox signed the 25-year-old on Nov. 17, 2006, along with Murillo Gouvea. As I detailed in my post on the Dave Wilder scandal, it appears that his bonus may have been skimmed as Wilder's indictment alleged that two checks were sent to an individual in Sao Paulo on Dec. 20, 2006 and were payable to two players. The timing and location certainly suggests Rienzo and Gouvea. Notably, Rienzo is the only player my detective work identified that is still in the organization.

Regardless of the circumstances of his signing, given his rise through the system, Rienzo obviously was and is a legitimate prospect. He throws from a high arm slot. His four-seamer is OK, but it doesn't have enough movement in the low-90s to be particularly effective, though it does tail a bit toward left-handed hitters. He also has a two-seamer, which he features more against left-handed hitters. His bread-and-butter against left-handers is his cutter, which is mid-80s. He's got a big overhand curve that's in the mid- to upper-70s, but it's an inconsistent offering. His change is a below-average pitch.

As I've mentioned before, he gets good extension on his pitches, (measured in the Arizona Fall League as 6'9", well above the MLB average of 6'1") which does make his pitches seem a bit faster to hitters than the radar gun suggests. While left-handed hitters make more contact against him, his platoon splits are not that wide, so the lefty-heavy Indians shouldn't pose as inordinate of a risk as they might against other right-handed pitchers.

Rienzo started this season poorly but has settled down the last couple months, culminating in a seven-inning no-hitter in his most recent start. In 2013, his line is 20 GS, 113 IP, 105 H, 46 BB, 113 K. His 23.2% strikeout rate is good but his 9.4% walk rate shows his major flaw - lack of good command. Because of that, as well as an overall repertoire that would play better in relief, I see his future as a good seventh- or eighth-inning reliever. But, when he's got his curveball, he can certainly moonlight as a starter. Let's hope he's on tonight.