Monday, August 18, 2008

Reds pitching; Thank God for Volquez

Dusty has a reputation for being tough on pitchers. Some of it is true; some of it is not true. Did he overuse Prior and Wood early in their careers? Yes. Have either of them been healthy the last 3 years without Dusty? No. Wood has at least pitched some the past two years but Prior has never been healthy. SI did an article about Tim Lincecum discussing mechanics of pitchers and noted that Prior had a terrible delivery that was an injury waiting to happen. Wood has rebounded and, if he can stop getting blisters, can remain relatively healthy. Neither is throwing 120+ pitches on a regular basis like they did in 2003.

Dusty has seemingly learned from that. Volquez has not exceeded 120 pitches in any outing this season (but he did throw 39 on one days rest) and Cueto has not either while throwing 100+ in only 11 of his 25 starts. Not bad on the young arms. Volquez has struggled since the 39 pitches on 1 day rest debacle. Some of that can be contributed to regressing to the mean but he has posted a 3.65 ERA and 1.3+ WHIP. He was at 1.34/1.2 before that but those number could not be sustained. Overall, Volquez still has an ERA+ of 165 and should pitch no more then 200 innings. Much better then most anticipated but a few more days rest before the end of the year to keep his innings at 180 would be nice. The season is over and we are going to need him for many years if the Reds will ever compete for a playoff spot. This season the Reds are 17-9 when he starts and 38-61 when he does not. Ouch.

Cueto has been up and down which is what can be expected from a rookie pitcher. He has an ERA+ of 92 and a WHIP under 1.4, not bad for a 22 years old rookie who had only pitched 4 games above AA ball before this season. His ERA has dropped the past 2 months and he should continue to improve his final 6 starts while throwing around 190 innings. Not bad for a rookie. The Reds are 10-15 when he starts but he has gotten 3 or fewer runs from his offense in 14 of those 25 starts. A little more luck and he can finish with a .500 record.

Harang has been a disaster this year. He began the year pitching well and getting no run support. After the 4 innings on two days rest in San Diego back in May, he has been terrible. Check out the difference:

Pre-Dusty Destruction: 3.50 ERA and 1.2 WHIP.
Post-Dusty Destruction: 9.06 ERA and 1.9 WHIP.

This was the ace of the Reds the previous 2 years and now he is getting beaten like a red-headed step child. I put the blame on Dusty because he had been pretty good before the debacle in San Diego. Now he reminds me of "Batting Practice" Danny Graves. The Reds are 8-14 when he starts. Just terrible from the ace of your staff.

The rest of the staff has been alright. Arroyo pitches different every time out but stays healthy and the Reds are 13-13 when he pitches. Fogg started terrible and has come back to be what a 5th starter usually is, 5 innings, 3 runs. Bailey didn't have a good run but is only 22 and should be given more time. Volquez was 1-10 when he was 22 so I will give Homer a few more years. Thompson showed signs of greatness but needs more development. Belisle was not good and is now injured.

The bullpen has actually been mediocre, which is a huge improvement over a year ago. Burton has pitched well when healthy as has Bill Bray and David "Stormy" Weathers. Cordero has been great at times and awful at times. Maybe a 4 year deal wasn't the best idea but he has not been that big of a disappointment. ERA+ of 115 and a few blown saves.

Overall, the pitching staff needs to be tweaked a little, making Volquez and Cueto the 1-2 punch and Arroyo and Harang 3-4 with Homer, Thompson, or anyone else getting the 5 slot. I sure hope Dusty does the smart thing and eases up on Volquez and Cueto because we will need them healthy for the next few years because this season is done. Chicago this week. Let's spoil the fun up on the North Side. Their fans need to come back to earth.

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