2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds

Suddenly, a postseason pitcher surplus

With Sean Marshall and Johnny Cueto back on the mound, the Reds will confront difficult (in a wonderful way) decisions concerning their postseason roster. The Reds will likely carry eleven pitchers and fourteen position players on their postseason roster. It’s what most teams do and what the Reds did last year and in 2010.

[Those eleven pitchers in 2010: Edinson Volquez (your Game One starter!), Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, Francisco Cordero, Arthur Rhodes, Nick Masset, Logan Ondrusek, Bill Bray, and Aroldis Chapman]

The competition for the eleven pitching slots this season is stiff.

Count eight sure things in Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, J.J. Hoover and Sam LeCure.

You could nit-pick about Mike Leake on that list. The case is that a fifth starter, no matter how good, is less valuable than a pitcher who is conditioned to warming up on short notice and relieving. After all, the Reds didn’t have the young pitcher on the initial postseason roster last season. Only after Johnny Cueto’s injury eight pitches into the NLDS was Leake added.

But the 25-year-old has earned inclusion, especially measured by old-school metrics like ERA and pitcher Wins. No way a guy with an ERA around 3.20 over 200 innings pitched is left off Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker’s roster.

Contenders for the final three pitching slots are: Tony Cingrani, Sean Marshall*, Manny Parra, Zack Duke and Alfredo Simon. Of those five, Cingrani should be in based on sheer talent and also Sean Marshall, based his experience and skills.

*It’s worth keeping an eye on Marshall’s pitch velocity. The baseline from 2010-12 is fastball (90 mph), slider (85 mph), curve (77 mph). In his appearance last night, Marshall threw seven curves (76.4 mph), five sliders (83.9 mph) and three other pitches (88.3 mph). Those last three pitches were categorized by Pitch f/x as ‘sinkers’ but were probably Marshall’s fastball.

That means the final spot comes down to Parra, Duke or Simon. Duke is the odd guy out there, for sure. His best chance is if Cingrani or Marshall or both aren’t fully healthy. The final choice, between Parra and Simon, depends on whether they want an additional lefty or righty in the pen.

Best guess, two weeks out:

Starters – Latos, Bailey, Cueto, Arroyo

Long reliever – Leake (R)

Set-up – Hoover (R), LeCure (R), Parra (L), Marshall (L), Cingrani (L)

Closer – Chapman (L)

48 thoughts on “Suddenly, a postseason pitcher surplus

  1. I think it comes down to Marshall/Cingrani, which one is going to be most healthy and able to pitch back-to-back games. I would be surprised the Reds would leave Simon off given his overall solid numbers and ability to go multiple innings if needed. Plus would balance bullpen, 3 righties(Simon,Lecure,Hoover) and 3 lefties(Parra,Marshall,Chapman).

    • @al: You might be right. But if both Cingrani and Marshall are healthy and pitching well, which of them (or Parra) do you leave off? You can’t really count Chapman, because his role isn’t used for matchup. Leaving him out, it’s three and three.

      • @Steve Mancuso: With most hitters being RH, I think going into the post-season with only LeCure and Hoover as actual RH relievers would be a big mistake. Granted, Simon isn’t a world beater, but he’s at least got a live arm and has been reasonably effective.

        If they only took LeCure and Hoover, I would be very worried that we would end up with a late-in-the-game situation where a decent RH hitter was able to feast on a LH reliever (like in MIL over the weekend).

        I think the most likely answer to your question is that the if is a very big IF. Cingrani has thrown a lot of innings and has broken down twice now. Marshall has barely been able to throw at all this year. I think we’ll actually be lucky if one of them is healthy and pitching well, let alone both of them.

        My best guess is Cingrani is left off, but again, that could change in a heartbeat if Marshall goes down again.

  2. Assuming Leake makes the roster (which he should, I think) I hope Dusty uses him like Lincecum was used last season; short hook on a bad start or an injury.

  3. Cingrani will be left off. Bad backs don’t go away easily. Plus, he has been the fill in all year for Cueto, and he is a rookie. Baker will go with Parra and Simon due to experience and balance in the bullpen. Cingrani will be added if Cueto or Marshall can’t pitch. I don’t advise this, but wouldn’t be surprised if Ondrusek is on there versus Leake. I agree that Leake should be, but he isn’t used to relieving and Ondrusek is a ground ball pitcher and is used often to get double plays. Just my thoughts!!

  4. Steve, I think your thoughts are spot-on for the non-wild card rounds. For the one-game round, look for the Reds to do something similar to what the Braves did last year…9 pitchers and 16 hitters.

    The Reds might go with 10 pitchers instead of 9, but you wouldn’t need to carry all those starters in a 1-game round. The Reds can set their roster each round out of the players available in their playoff roster pool (an upcoming post is planned on that topic and the potential wild card game roster), and the 1-game wild card game counts as its own round.

    So, if the Reds don’t win the division, I could see the pitching roster look something like this:

    Latos, Bailey, Cingrani (that latter 2 for emergency/long relief or extra innings. Perhaps Cueto or Leake would be on this roster instead of Bailey?)
    Chapman, Hoover, LeCure, Marshall, Parra, Duke, Simon

  5. Can the wildcard game have a different roster than the other rounds of the playoffs? If so, I assume that if we’re in that wildcard game we’ll drop a couple of starters and take an extra reliever or two and an extra position player like Hamilton.

  6. Cart before the horse, I know, but I’ve been giving this a lot of thought in recent weeks.

    I would be extremely hesitant to allocate three slots to Cueto, Marshall and Cingrani. The way it seems the Reds crack medical staff examines pitchers with kid gloves, I have little confidence in how well any of the three truly are. Do I hope all are healthy and as effective as they’ve been in the past? Absolutely. But do I believe that’s likely? No — at least, not yet.

    I know you can activate someone else if need be, but after last year and Dusty’s track record of playing for a tomorrow that may never come, I’d prefer to start a series with as close to 11 healthy arms as possible. I therefore agree with the eight “sure things” listed above, except for Cueto. Eliminating the obvious (Duke, Ondrusek), that leaves four musical chairs for five bodies, and I wouldn’t pick until Cueto, Marshall and Cingrani have all thrown multiple times over the next 10 games.

    We know Dusty goes by the book, favors veterans and likes clear-cut roles, though, so I highly doubt he’ll cut Simon or Parra, which I see Cingrani drawing the short straw.

  7. As Marshall was pitching last night, I was wondering what the composition of the bullpen would look like in the post-season. Thanks Steve for setting the stage. Now the players on the bubble will have 10 games to either play themselves on to or off the playoff rosters. Same with the bench players. Stiff competition for spots on the roster is usually a good thing to have. No “sentimental” choices this year or going with “the guys who got us here” will do this year. Go with the players with the hot hands right now. And that would have to include BHamilton, I would think. Even though Baker pretty much publicly reserved a spot on the post season roster for DRobinson when he was sent down to AAA awhile back. Luckily, its a roster that can flucuate some if the Reds advance any.

  8. As of this very moment, I don’t see how you put Marshall on the postseason roster. He has pitched a grand total of 8 innings this season, 1 in the last 3 months approximately. Too much of an unknown variable at this point. Simon has gotten the job done for 2 straight years without injury, and Parra has been a Godsend, other than the first month. They have both earned the spots.

  9. For me, it boils down to swing and miss stuff. To that end, I would leave off Simon in favor of Cingrani. Hoover’s wildness in the zone scares me a bit, but he does have the ability to throw it by people–he’s in. Parra would make it as a LOOGY. If Marshall has 3 good outings before the end of the season, I don’t see how you leave him off.

    Basically, you’re looking for guys who match up well because you may only need them for an out or two. You gotta assume Chapman will pitch in the 8th and 9th if necessary.

  10. I wanted to pass this article along and share it. The USA Today story references an article in the NY Times. They start off talking about the Reds Aroldis Chapman and fieball pitchers. Very interesting part about former closer Mike Marshall. It has a nine minute video that is very fascinating. Two quotes:
    “An excellent New York Times feature on fireballing pitchers like Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, who throw at the upper limits of human velocity,”
    “It’s a fascinating thing to consider: Could Marshall’s mechanics really help pitchers throw 10-15 mph faster and stay healthier?”
    It’s a very unorthodox delivery. Watch the video. Its more of an over-the-top delivery and the pitcher is looking at the ground before releasing the ball. It shows the deiveries on 4-5 different pitches in regular motion and super slow motion. It’s well worth the read and the watch.

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/09/former-cy-young-winner-says-he-can-help-pitchers-throw-115-mph/

  11. It seems to me that at times during the season, Dusty and/or Byran Price have preferred Simon to Hoover in high leverage situations. Could it be that Simon is a sure thing and Hoover might be in the mix to miss the roster?

    By the way, I’m certainly not advocating such a move. Just wondering about the possibility.

    For me, I leave Leake off. He has little to no experience coming out of the bullpen. I certainly don’t want him starting. And, he is not a guy who misses bats which I believe is a premium in the post-season. He’s had a fantastic year, but he’s the odd man out to me.

    • @Kyle Farmer: I can see that argument, but to me it really just comes down to extra innings. The ability to go to a guy who can put up 4+ scoreless frames while also being able to hit, it’s a huge deal in extras.

      But of course, you never know if you’re going to have an extra-inning game, so taking an extra reliever might help you more. It’s just as likely that if Leake is on the roster, he never pitches in a series.

    • @Kyle Farmer: Leake and Latos have given up the exact same number of hit this year. Latos has pitched 7 more innings than Leake, but Leake has also given up 6 fewer walks than Latos.

      • @hoosierdad: Are you advocating leaving Latos out of the rotation? If not, I’m missing your point. The discussion is about who would best be in the bullpen.

  12. Currently, Leake is a better pitcher than Cueto. In a week, that might not be true. For the moment, knowing only what has happened, Leake makes the rotation. I don’t cringe when I learn he’s getting the start. If there is a play-in game, how do you NOT have a 5-man rotation?

    • @Johnu1:

      If there is a play-in game, how do you NOT have a 5-man rotation?

      Because there is no need for a 5 man rotation since a 4 man rotation keeps everyone pitching with 4 days rest.

    • @Johnu1: I agree — AFTER you make the best-of-five, you can probably get by with 4 … and if it rains, maybe at times, even less. I just don’t see leaving a 200-innings rotation guy off the post-season roster for any reason. He can still pitch.

    • @Johnu1: The wild card “play-in” game is scheduled for Tuesday. Then, there’s an off day before NLDS round starts on Thursday.

      So, your wild card starting pitcher could pitch on Sunday (Game 3) of the NLDS.
      Your #2/3 pitcher can throw on Thursday and Friday. Your #4 starter could pitch a game #4, if necessary. #2 starter would be on regular rest for game #5. It would look like this:

      Tue: Latos (WC game)
      Wed: Off
      Thu: Bailey (NLDS G#1)
      Fri: Cueto (NLDS G#2)
      Sat: Off
      Sun: Latos (NLDS G#3) on 4 days rest
      Mon: Arroyo (NLDS G#4)
      Tue: off
      Wed: Bailey (NLDS G#5) on 5 days rest

      If it has to go 5 games, then both Latos and Cueto are rested for the NLCS round.

      • @Greg Dafler: I am in 100% agreement that this is how it SHOULD be done. However, I also am 100% sure that there is no way Dusty Baker let’s Latos have two post-season starts before Arroyo has one. Not gonna happen – and cue all of Chad’s posts about this team from Sunday and Monday.

      • @Greg Dafler: IF Latos pitches the wild-card play-in, yeah, I like the schedule after that. The variables could suggest that Latos does NOT pitch that game. I’ve been saying this for awhile and for some reason, nobody gets it. Any old twisted ankle or 16-inning game or rainout could change the whole rotation.

        Sure, none of that could happen and we’re on schedule … as if none of that ever did happen.

        So what you suggest is that it “would” look like that. I am suggesting that it “might not” look like that. I still want a 200-innings guy on my post-season roster, ready to pitch.

      • @Greg Dafler: I also want to see Cueto throw more than 4 good innings before I entrust the NLDS to his performance. There was never anything wrong with his stuff or his arm. The parts that keep getting him hurt are still connected to something. I’m much too wary of this to say, “let’s do the same thing we did last year because it can’t fail twice.” (That’s standard Dustyism.)

  13. On the debate about Leake making it:

    If Cueto is one of your designated starters, I absolutely take Leake. Why? I’ll tell ya. Game 1 of last year’s playoffs. If Cueto starts a game, and re-injures himself early, you need a reliable long man. If it was me, on a day Cueto was scheduled to pitch, I’d have Leake warming up right beside him before the game – just in case.

    • @concepcion13: Leake can pitch relief. Latos pitched relief in Game 1 last year. Dusty let LeCure pitch 2 innings to give Latos time. If he’s smart, and if that happens, you do it that way again.

      • @Johnu1:
        Yep, that’s it exactly. Have Leake warmed up – along with Cueto, pre-game – & ready in case he needs to go in & relieve early; that way Dusty doesn’t burn through the whole bullpen.

        • @concepcion13: Dunno if I have them warm up together. There’s probably a lot more to prepping for a start than just that, as in studying the hitting charts, etc … but if Cueto gets hurt, Leake has all day. The secret is whether he should warm up on the mound or in the bullpen. Using a reliever as a bridge is preferable, IMO.

      • @Kyle Farmer: A much larger body of work would lean toward Leake, not Cingrani. I’ve seen Cingrani pitch very well for 4 innings. I’ve seen Leake pitch very well to only 6 hitters. Meh … you either got it that day or you don’t.

        I will take my chances with Leake at this point in both of their careers. For a post-season series, that is.

        In 2 years, Cingrani could be Tony Koufax. Not yet.

  14. This all assumes there aren’t play-in games before the Wild Card game. According to the schedule MLB put out today, it looks like it could be possible that a team would have to play Monday and Tuesday before even getting into the Wild Card game on Wednesday. In that situation, if it won them all there would be no day off until Saturday.

  15. I’d plan to pitch Cueto and Arroyo for five innings. Then I’d have Leake start preparing to pitch like he normally does, whatever his routine is. Get him up in the 3rd inning to start his routine to loosen up. Then have him ready for the beginning of the 6th inning to go in and pitch likes its the 1st inning. If Cueto or Arroyo get in any trouble before that, then Simon can come in to bridge the gap to the 6th inning. Having Leake pitch the 6th, 7th and possibly 8th innings sure could save on the bullpen arms. That would be my plan but its a bit out of the box.

    • @WVRedlegs: I like the idea of having Leake around for long relief, but I see that mostly happening in extra innings (if needed).

      In a tight game, I wouldn’t be trying to save the bullpen, because of all the off days. The bullpen should be fine. In a tight game, I would want the best pitchers I had pitching the highest leverage situations. Leake has had a great year, but out of the pen, I certainly don’t trust him as much as LeCure or Hoover from the right side.

  16. I agree that Leake belongs in the “sure thing” category. As an emergency starter and as a long man or an extra inning guy. I don’t think Cingrani will be able to show he’s healthy by the postseason. The Reds need another righty in the pen, that would be Simon.

    If Marshall breaks down and I’m right about Cingrani, then Duke is in.

  17. Leake makes the team of course. He can pitch, he can Pinch hit in a pinch.

    He is not the starter because of what Sultan says: swing and miss stuff. I like Leake fine but in the playoffs he is a 4 inning pitcher. He can go 8 against the Astros but has problems with good teams the 3rd time through. And if the ump is not calling the game his way, he has problems getting through once

    Latos, Cueto, Bailey and Arroyo are starters
    Leake is long man and 3rd righty, pinch hitter
    LeCure and Hoover
    Marshall, Parra and Cingrani, plus Chapman. Cingrani and Marshall really do not care which side of the plate you stand on

  18. Isn’t it true that after one round you can redo your roster for the next series? I think the giants did this last year or two years ago.

  19. One thing worth noting is that for the wild card game you have separate roster than the NLDS. Last year, the Cardinals only had 2 starters on their wild card roster (Lohse and Lynne). Meaning the Reds can have Latos (assuming he pitches the WC game) and one other “backup starter” on the roster. That would open up 3 more spots for say Simon, Duke, and Ondrusek.

  20. I think you pretty much need to leave Cingrani off the PO roster. He will be in the rotation in April, and I’d really rather they just shut him down and make sure his back is ready to go. We have Cueto back and Leake can handle any long relief that is needed.

    PEN
    LaCure
    Simon
    Leake
    Marshell
    Hoover
    Parra
    Chapman

    STARTERS
    Latos
    Arroyo
    Bailey
    Cueto

    Thats a solid pitching staff.

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