Monday, January 18, 2010

Reds 25-man roster preview - starting pitchers

Pitchers and catchers start reporting one month from today, so I'm going to go ahead and start my Reds 25-man position-by-position roster preview. We'll start today with the starting rotation, because it requires the least amount of work on my part. Both Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo have both been rumored to be traded but nothing has happened yet. Barring a trade, which at this point seems unlikely (and not just because I proposed not trading anyone), Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo will head the rotation. Harang is probably the team's "ace" and will likely start opening day although, arguably, Bronson has earned the spot.

Arroyo's been remarkably reliable in his 4 years as a Red. His first year (14 wins and 3.29 era) and last year (15 wins and 3.84 era), two really good years, sandwiched two mediocre to bad years in '07 (9 wins and 4.23 era) and '08 (15 wins but a 4.77 era). But he managed to start at least 33 games every year and pitch at least 200 innings. That's a pretty good run. There is no reason to expect anything other than 34 starts 200 plus innings pitched and an era around 4.00. 15 wins is not a stretch for him by any means.

Harang on the other hand, since a great three-year run from '05 to '07 has been anything but reliable. Just like we said last year, Harang becoming the '05-'07 pitcher is a huge key to this team's success both for 2010 and, if he builds his trade value, for the future.

Both Harang and Arroyo will make north of $12 mil. this year on the last year of their contracts, and both have 2011 buyouts of $2 mil. Look for these guys to either lead the Reds to challenge for the division or be shopped at the deadline.

Right now, Johnny Cueto is the third starter and Homer Bailey is the fourth starter. The continued development of these two pitchers (especially Bailey's roller coaster ride from top-prospect to failure back to a top prospect?) is a huge factor in the Reds' ability to contend for the division this year. If these two pitch well, combined with good seasons from the top two guys, who is the fifth starter won't matter.

Which leads to the biggest question mark for the Reds going into spring training. Assuming again no trade or signing, the fifth spot will be up for grabs among a few candidates. Nick Massett, who was just re-upped for two years, is probably not a candidate even though he was last spring. He was great in a set-up role, and will keep that role for 2010.

Perhaps the most intriguing option (besides Chapman, who I'll get to in a second) is Travis Wood. He had a great year last year and was added to the 40-man roster in November. Between AA (where he dominated) and AAA (where he was good, not great) he pitched 167.2 innings over 27 starts (8 in AAA) with a 1.77 era and a 13-5 record. He struck out 135, walking 53, and only gave up 6 home runs. Tell me that won't play well at Pretty Good American Small Park. But Wood seems like a good bet to start at AAA for a little more seasoning.

Of course, there's Chapman, but I cannont conceive of the Reds starting him in the majors. For one thing, if he earns arbitration eligibility in 2012, it alters his contract.

Another AAA guy, Sam LeCure has shown some promise, but won't be in the mix. His 10-8 season for Louisville (with 4.46 era) requires some attention, but won't be enough to get a serious look.

That really only leaves Matt Maloney and Micha Owings from the 40-man. Dusty likes Owings in the pinch-hitter role, so I see him as more likely a long reliever than a starter.

Maloney wasn't great in his '09 Reds' debut, but he did show some promise and he's left-handed, which the Reds desperately need. In 7 starts, he went 2-4 with a 4.87 era and 28/8 K/BB in 40.2 innings (not quite 6 per start). He also allowed 9 home runs. But unless he blows up in the spring, the Reds sign another starter, or Wood or Chapman are just too good in spring training to be denied, Maloney will be the fifth guy.

Overall, starting pitching has to considered a strength with this club, although the rotation is not without its question marks, the biggest of which are which Harang will show-up? and will Cueto and Bailey continue to develop?

Up next: the bullpen.


John said...

I think Travis Wood should get a long look, but I agree with you that Maloney should and probably will be that #5 guy. Will be interesting to see what happens if and when Volquez comes back.

Nicholas said...

Don't forget about Justin Lehrer.

Clay said...

what about edison volquez?

Mike said...

Mike Leake?

Chris said...

Imagine if Volquez didn't get hurt!

1. Harang
2. Arroyo
3. Volquez
4. Cueto
5. Bailey

I think Chapman will have a great spring training but will stay down for more seasoning and also to prevent his arbitration clock from strating.

Anonymous said...

wood is not ready, he's only pitched in 8 games in AAA
lehr is not that good
Volquez is hurt, where have you been?
leake obviously needs to prove himself in the minors

c'mon people....

Anonymous said...

Klinker will get a long look in ST, just like Wood and Maloney will. All 3 should have a equal shot at the 5th starters spot, and all of them will see the bigs at some point this year. Chapman and Leake will both start in AA and could possibly be Sept. call ups as well as Volquez possibly being back at the end of the season. So basically, if the Reds are in the playoff hunt they could get a big shot in the arm with 3 elite arms either coming out of the bullpen or as the 5th starter.

Mark said...

The Reds have a kid with a real nasty slider coming up into Double A this year. His name is Mark Serrano. I know how the Reds like to bring up young talent and insert them into the rotation, so just look out for him.

Blue Sox Baseball said...

I really think Lehr was a fill-in last year and he's been outrighted to the minors, but he will probably get a chance to compete for the fifth spot in spring training.

Leake's not ready yet, but should be up in 2011.

I don't see Klinker and Serrano having a shot. Neither is on the 40-man and they're not ready. Nice to see some decent prospects (and now the Reds have Arredondo for 2011).

Anonymous said...

Why would anybody dismiss Lehr? The guy's a pitcher and a winner. He's a legitimate candidate for the 5th spot. Maybe he has that "seasoning" that these other pitchers need.