Friday, February 13, 2009

Starting Pitchers

For the first time in over a decade, the Reds left their starting pitching staff in tact. Last season our starters had an ERA of 4.97. Remove the revolving 5th starter(Fogg, Bailey, Belisle, Ramirez, Thompson, and Pettyjohn) and his 7.11 ERA and the other 4 returners (Harang, Cueto, Volquez and Arroyo) had an ERA of 4.37. That is not half bad and would have been in the top half of the NL before factoring in the bandbox called Great American Ballpark. Those 4 should be the cornerstone of one of the best 1-4 staffs in the NL and should give us a quality start two-thirds of the time.

The success of the Reds will come down to who wins the 5th spot and how that pitcher fares. Last season the 5th starter was 4-21. Change that number to 11-14 and the Reds become a .500 team. I expect Harang to bounce back and have a good season, which should offset any bumps in the road for Volquez and Cueto, who should both struggle in their second season pitching to the NL. Arroyo will do his 200 innings and 12 wins like always. As the 5th starter goes, so goes the team. He goes 11-14 while the top 4 stay the same, they are .500. He goes 14-11 with the top 4 staying the same, they are an 84 win team. He goes 15-10 with the top 4 inproving, they could get to 88 wins and have a chance at the division or WC with some help. I know its a long shot but everyone is a contender in February and March. Jeff Passan thinks we have a chance to compete with the Cubs(and like myself is not a Dusty fan). The 5th starter will determine it.

The competition will likely be between these four pitchers:

Micah Owings-Centerpiece of the Adam Dunn trade, he has started 45 major league games and has put up a 14-17 record in 257.1 innings with a 4.97 ERA. Struggled last year and had his pitching year cut short due to an injury but should be fully healed for spting training. He is 26 and has by far the most major league experience of any other contender. The other great thing is he can swing the bat. Last season he served as a pitch hitter for the Reds in September and managed to go 2-4 with 3 RBI's. He has put up solid batting numbers in his 116 AB's with a .319/.355/.552 and OPS+ of 126. That is a small sample sive but automatically makes him the 6th or 7th best hitter on the team. Can still be used as a pitch hitter late. His job to lose and I think he wins it.

Odds to job: 3-2

Homer Bailey-Once a top 10 prospect who some people are calling washed up at 22 years old. Those people are idiots and don't listen to them. He is still very young and, if he gets his head on straight, could break out and have a huge year. He has pitched well in AAA but has not been able to translate that success to Cincinnati. I chalk it up to being young and nervous. If he can make the club out of spring training and spend some time with Harang and Arroyo to learn the ropes, I think he could be very good.

Odds of winning job: 2-1

Daryl Thompson-bursted on the scene last summer with a great debut in Yankee Stadium. His is only 23 years old and only started 10 games above AA, 3 of those with the Reds. He should probably spend most of the year in Louisville and be called up later in the summer if there is an injury or trade. I like his potential but unless he throws lights out he needs some more seasoning. No need to rush his development when we have plenty of other viable, and probably better candidates.

Odds of winning job: 8-1

Ramon Ramirez-26 year old who probably looked the best out of the contenders last season, starting 4 games and pitching 27 innings with a 2.67 ERA. More mature then the other contenders and we know how Dusty loves older players. Can pitch out of the bullpen so if he were to lose the 5th starter spot he could make the team as a long reliever/spot starter. Still needs to Wow people to win the job because he is close to a finished product and would take time away from developing one of the other, younger contenders.

Odds of winning job: 10-1

The way I see it, Owings should get it unless some other pitcher pitches so well they take it away. Last year, Volquez pitched better then expected and Cueto blew everyone away to earn his spot, so it could happen. We will find out over the next 6 weeks.

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