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)