Is it too early to start blogging about the playoffs? I don't want to jinx anything, but I also think it's bad luck to be superstitious, so I'm going to go ahead (just like everyone else outside of Cincy) and assume the Reds are in. The Reds have basically won the division because they've stayed relatively healthy and had depth to fall back on when they weren't. Just about every game they've thrown a starter out there who one would have to believe has a decent chance to win. But that's not the type of team that typically does well in the playoffs. Conventional wisdom says you need an ace and good second to win playoff series against other playoff caliber teams. The Reds depth doesn't mean much (or so the thinking goes).
Along those lines, here is an interesting blurb from Christina Kahrl over at Baseball Prospectus about the Reds rotation and who should pitch in the playoffs:
Tough Choice to Make: Picking a post-season rotation. Even if we set Mike Leake aside as a likely shutdown, and Aaron Harang because of his problems with both health and performance, but keep Volquez in the mix thanks to the presence of pitchers on the 60-day DL who he could slot in for, take a look and consider the numbers of the other fistful of choices:
Arroyo 31 starts, 203.2 IP, 3.98 era
Bailey 17, 97, 4.73
Cueto 30, 178.2, 3.73
Volquez 11, 56.2, 4.45
Wood 15, 89.1, 3.43
So who does Dusty run with? Bailey seems like the easy guy to delete from the rotation, but what order do you line up the other four? Travis Wood has a pair of good games against the Rockies, and a complete-game shutout against the Phillies; he missed the Braves and had a bad day against the Giants. Cueto had a pair of quality starts against the Phillies, and didn't have a good game against any of the other potential playoff opponents. Arroyo has never won a game in Coors, he's 0-4 in San Francisco, he missed the Phillies, and he took a beating by the Pads back in April. Volquez had good games against the Braves and Rockies. Other than leaning toward Wood and Cueto against the Phillies, with Arroyo and Volquez at home on short leashes if that's their matchup, I'm not sure there's a happy pattern to pick from there. Leading with Wood against the Braves makes sense because of Atlanta's losing record against lefties, I suppose. But a quick glance at the options doesn't suggest an easy bunch of picks, and Arroyo's utility as an innings eater doesn't mean as much in must-win games against better lineups.