Haven’t we come too far in 2012 to make a mistake like this? It’s been so gobsmacking wonderful all summer. Tell me we’re not doing this.
No, I’m not talking about Drew Stubbs batting second in the playoffs or Todd Frazier riding the pine. Or Wilson Valdez playing at all—worthy discussion topics though they be.
Everybody wants to talk about the Reds’ offense. Joey’s left knee and the power outage it portends. Jay’s state of mind. Is he about to go off on another hot streak, or is he all slumpy again? You can argue the starters need their rest—or need to play and get their hitting muscles greased for October. It all depends upon your viewpoint. Did the Phillies blow it last year by resting guys too long and losing their mojo? Davey Johnson says he’s resting his guys as soon as he clinches. Anybody care besides St. Louis fans, and the Dodger and Brewer fans who now hate him?
Are we missing something here? I, for one, fear the Reds are about to make a mistake with the playoff rotation that, while it may not go down as famously as Merkle’s Boner back in 1908, may nevertheless be remembered for a long time to come in Cincinnati.
Bronson Arroyo will almost certainly start Game 2 in a few days. Are we okay with that? Dusty Baker loves the idea of bookending the hard throwing Cueto and Latos around Bronson’s slow stuff. The rotation was set up to make this happen a few days ago. The boys in the radio booth think this is a fait accompli.
Done deal, yeah?
Arroyo pitching in spacious AT&T Park sounds good, should that matchup happen. Does Latos pitching in SF sound better? He’s been absolutely nails against the Giants in his career. What if Cueto is needed to pitch a Game 5? Do we want Arroyo pitching Game 1 of the next series or Latos? Right now, Mat Latos is the best pitcher in the rotation. His 2.52 ERA over his past 17 starts suggests that perhaps something better than being the #3 guy in the rotation is in order here. In a 7 game series, should a rainout occur and the Reds elect to pitch Cueto in Game 7 on short rest, Arroyo could conceivably pitch twice while Latos only toes the rubber once.
Again, are we okay with this?
I’ve heard people argue that Homer Bailey’s home/road splits make it imperative that he pitch a Game 2 on the road. But, Bailey is the #4 pitcher in this rotation. He barely beat out Mike Leake for that honor. If Bailey has to pitch in GABP the opening series, well, that’s a bullet the Reds are going to have to bite. No way he starts ahead of Mat. Latos can be downright dominating. He looked overpowering on Clinch Night. In fact, Latos career numbers look good against anybody the Reds will likely face from the NL in the post-season, with the exception of St. Louis. But he’s only pitched 29 innings against the Cardinals lifetime. Small sample size?
I find the fascination with the Reds offense, well, fascinating. I think Doc Halladay’s historic game against the Reds two years ago is responsible for some of the angst that has landed fans on the psychiatric couch when the discussion turns to offense in October. This is a team that wins when (a) it pitches well, and (b) hits home runs. The Reds can’t control where they will be playing. Miller Park gives up the most HRs in the majors. The Reds hitters would like to be swinging there. But, they’re more likely to be swinging in AT&T ballpark, which gives up the fewest. And the ballparks of both leaders for the Wild Card rank as the 9th and 10th toughest to hit HRs in.
So be prepared to pitch.
From an organizational standpoint, Bronson probably deserves the second spot in the rotation. Arroyo is having his best season since he arrived in Cincinnati in 2006. The Reds are big on rewarding veterans. The kids can wait their turn. It’s just that the Kid is pitching better than everybody else right now. You can make one helluva argument he should start Game 1.
Cincinnati is going back to the playoffs. Are the Reds about to forget what got them there?