Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reds Season Preview 2011- Starting Pitching

It's that time of year again. Football season is winding down and right around the corner pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training. I started this blog a while back and never really followed through, so I figured we'll go at it on here until me and Anthony get the web site up.

Lets recap last season. The Reds finished the season on top of the NL Central division. Now this is not really a cinderella story but most analyst had us picked to finish third or fourth. Thanks to an MVP effort by Joey Votto, steady pitching, three gold glove performances (By Phillips, Rolen, and Arroyo), and leading the league in almost every major team offensive category, the Reds moved on to the playoffs only to be embarrassed by all three of the Phillies' aces. It was a great and memorable season but It's time to look forward to 2011, a year where it looks to be even tougher!

Although returning champions the Reds are still not obvious favorites to win the central. The Cubs made a big edition in aquiring Matt Garza from The Rays, the Brewers landed a top of the line ace in Zach Greinke, and the Cardinals are returning Carpenter, Wainright, and Garcia, not to mention Pujols and Holiday. So as you can see the Reds have their work cut out for them if they are looking to repeat in the central.

Lets start out by looking at our starting rotation.
1. Bronson Arroyo- Ever since coming to the reds in 2006 Bronson has pitched an average of 217.1 innings, with an average era of right at 4. Considering he pitches over half his games in GABP a 4 era over 5 seasons there is pretty damn good. Look for Bronson Arroyo to eat up another 200 or so innings and win you at least 15 games or so. When you look at his impact don't just look at games he pitches in. His rubber arm eating innings allows our bullpen to stay off the mound giving them plenty of rest for other nights. The Reds were able to structure a new deal with Bronson keeping him in a Reds uniform through 2013, also deffering most of the money freeing up salary space.

2. Johnny Cueto- Oh Johnny. What can we say about your performances of 2010. 12 wins, 3.64 era, erratic at times, gave me heart palpitations but got the job done. You never know what you are going to get out of Cueto. Cueto often lets his emotions get the best of him and pitches into and out of sticky situations often. Johnny will be 25 this season and barring injury his best years should be ahead of him. He all the tools, a hard fastball, a wicked breaking ball, and a nasty change up. Look for him to pick up where he left off, I don't see him winning less than 12 games this season, but you never know.

3. Edinson Volquez- It all comes down to this. How is Edinson Volquez going to react to that disastrous start in the playoffs and is he 100% back in form after tommy johns in 2009? In 2008 Volquez was probably the best pitcher on our staff. 2009 started off mediocre before being sidelined with an elbow injury and surgery. Edinson has all the tools to be an ace pitcher, he still has one of the hardest fastballs on the team, and has a nasty change up. This is a make or break year for Volquez, he has to pitch up to his potential because there is plenty of young talent waiting for an opportunity to get a crack at the rotation. I really can't make a prediction on Volquez because I don't have a clue how he's going to pitch, let's hope he gets some good early starts to get his confidence rolling and hopefully that carries through the season.

4. Homer Bailey- Homer Bailey, once considered our saving grace now is struggling to keep a job in our starting rotation. I have him in the 4 spot just because I think that is where he will start off the season. Homer, like Volquez and Cueto, has plenty of potential and is still relatively young. His pitching really improved when he was sent down to Louisville and developed a split finger fastball. I really like Homer, I think that he was put under so much pressure when he arrived in the Queen City because expectations were so high. Homer showed us flashes of brilliant pitching when he wasn't sidelined on the DL. If he can stay off the DL I don't see why he couldn't have a great year.

5. Ah the 5 spot. Mike Leake and Travis wood seem to be the favorites heading in. No one can say enough about what Mike Leake did last year making the jump strait from NCAA to The Show, he pitched amazing, I remember in his first start loading the bases full of Cubs with no outs and then allowing no runs to score. Typical Cubs baseball but brilliant none the less. Travis Wood may be my favorite pitcher on the team. You couldn't tell if this guy was having a good day or if his grandma just had a stroke. The guy has ice running through his veins. Lets not forget that he took a great Phillies lineup into the ninth with a perfect game going. He probably would have won if he wasn't facing the best pitcher in either league.

Other Candidates

-Sam Lecure came up and had a couple decent games. He's not a lights out pitcher but I think he is a great guy to have ready and waiting because chance are at some point in the season someone will be on the DL

-Aroldis Chapman. Look for Chapman to start the season off in the bullpen. He will probably get a couple spring training starts and we'll see how he looks. He is still in the developmental stages of his career, I don't know if he will make the rotation at any point this season but he will electrify crowds in whatever role he plays.

Overall I think we have a solid pitching rotation. Nothing compared to the Phillies but one that will keep us in ball games regularly. Hopefully Arroyo can get his ass into gear early as he is traditionally a pitcher that needs a few starts under his belt before he really starts pitching great. Bryan Price is a good pitching coach and develops players well. There is a lot of potential to be had and I think a lot of wins can be claimed by the starters this year.

-Please comment and let me know your opinions, feel free to email me and about once a month I'm gonna try and do a Q & A post.