2013 Postseason / 2013 Reds

Starting pitcher decisions

The Reds face important and difficult decisions regarding their starting pitcher rotation this week.

Current plan: Mon – Cueto, Tue – Leake, Wed – Reynolds, Thu – off, Fri – Latos, Sat – Bailey, Sun – Arroyo.

If Cueto pitches really well tonight, that raises the possibility of him being available on Sunday to pitch instead of Bronson Arroyo. [Side note: Would Baker consider replacing Arroyo given that it would prevent Arroyo from throwing 200 innings and deny him the chance of winning his 15th game?]

The uncertainty with the assignments comes from not yet knowing whether the Reds will be participating in (a) a Division Championship tie-breaker game on Monday, (b) a Wild Card play-in game on Tuesday, (c) both, (d) neither. Any of those scenarios are possible as of today.

A second issue to ponder is: If the Reds participate in the Wild Card play-in game on Tuesday (this is the most likely scenario) is it more important to have home field advantage, or to have your single most-preferred starting pitcher in that game?

The Reds face that exact choice. If they have a stronger preference for choosing the exact pitcher (Latos or Bailey) then that pitcher should be held out of the three-game series against Pittsburgh. If they care more about the home field advantage, then that pitcher should definitely pitch against the Pirates.

Right now, Homer Bailey is next scheduled to pitch on Saturday, so he wouldn’t be available again until a hypothetical NLDS Game One. Mat Latos is currently scheduled to pitch against Pittsburgh on Friday, but would be on normal rest if he pitched on Wednesday in the series finale against the Mets. If the Reds move his start up to Wednesday, then he could pitch next Tuesday in the Wild Card play-in game.

If Cueto pitches well tonight, the Reds might feel fine having him start the play-in game. That would allow them to pitch Latos in the Pittsburgh series as planned. But if Cueto has issues with either his health or performance, that changes the equation. It’s certainly a gamble to count on him for one all-or-nothing game of the season.

Lots of moving parts, though. Suppose the Cardinals drop their first two games against the Nationals and the Reds win tonight and tomorrow. That brings the division into a two-way tie and raises the chances of (a) having to play a tie-breaker game on Monday and/or (b) avoiding the Wild Card play-in game on Tuesday (yay). How would that affect what the Reds should do with their pitchers Wednesday forward?

Too bad Tony Cingrani’s back isn’t cooperating. His availability at full health would help this entire situation tremendously.

50 thoughts on “Starting pitcher decisions

    • @Greg Dafler: Just playing devil’s advocate … it’s the Mets, and it allows us to stack the rotation against the Pirates. Otherwise, Latos has to pitch Wednesday and the rotation against the Pirates would be Bailey, Arroyo and Cueto. That may be how it ends up anyhow. I suspect Baker will, in fact, switch Latos in for Reynolds. But with Dusty, you never know. It’s all WWHAD?

      • @Steve Mancuso: Latos, Bailey, Arroyo is not appreciably different from Bailey, Arroyo, and (healthy) Cueto. It also gives you the option, if everything is decided on that last day, to pitch Leake on Sunday and holding Cueto back for the playoffs. If that 162nd game is important, then Cueto starts.

        • @Greg Dafler: Yeah, that makes complete sense and what I’d do. But I do think the home field advantage is pretty important, yesterday’s blow-out notwithstanding and that’s a small argument for Latos on Friday.

        • @Steve Mancuso:
          To me the homefield is a huge advantage just that you get to bat last. When the ninth inning comes you know where you stand, Chapman pitches and does not wait for an opportunity that may never come

        • @vicferrari: Home field for the Reds is a huge HUGE advantage. Being ahead 11-0 in the 8th inning would be even bigger, no matter where the game is played.

    • @Greg Dafler:
      He had 2 pretty good starts also, but he was not ready for last Wednesday’s game. He is a control pitcher and he ran the counts too high, walked too many staked to a lead, hit a batter with 2 strikes.
      On a night the Reds needed at least 5 solid, he could not give them 4

  1. I would have no problem with Cueto being the one game shootout pitcher, only if Tony Cingrani is warming up with him at the start of the game…Cueto and playoff games still don’t make me get warm and fuzzies.

    • @rfay00:
      After 2 starts from 3 months off? If you got Latos or Bailey why risk it, stack the rotation, take your chances with Cueto Sunday

  2. AT&T Park and GABP were worth exactly nothing to their respective teams last year at this time. I’d be more inclined to have my best pitcher available for the most important game, no matter where it is played.

    • @Richard Fitch: That’s an excellent point. And the home field in last year’s play-in game didn’t help Atlanta either. That all said, I’d still rather the game be played in front of rabid Reds fans than rabid Pirates fans. Both teams have strong home records this year. That’s a larger sample size than six postseason games in 2012.

  3. Reynolds doesn’t have a long enough track record and therefore suspect against any major league team. Including the Mets. No disrespect because I really like Reynolds. But I would feel much better with

    Mets1: Cueto
    Mets2: Leake
    Mets3: Latos
    Off
    Bucs1: Bailey
    Bucs2: Arroyo
    Bucs3: Cueto

    Latos tie/playin game

    I don’t think there would be a Tie-breaker game with the Cardinals under the new CBA. The first tie-breaker goes to the best head-to-head record. The Cardinals own that, so the Reds would have to finish a game up on the Cardinals to win the division. No tie-breaker needed. I might be wrong, but that’s what I’ve heard all along until this week.

  4. To me it is absolutely absurd that Greg Reynolds would pitch a game this week. I really don’t get it at all. What’s wrong with the following rotation the rest of the way:

    Cueto
    Leake
    Latos

    Bailey
    Arroyo
    Leake

    I cannot comprehend not pitching Latos on Wednesday. If you hold him until Friday, then he is unavailable for both a potential Monday division title game and the Tuesday Wild Card game. It makes less than no sense to not pitch him on Wednesday. Besides, it’s not like the Mets games don’t count in the standings. Putting a crucial game in the hands of AAAA pitcher. Senseless.

  5. I’m all for home field advantage and got giving up on winning the division but we better not be playing a one-game playoff game with Leake or Arroyo on the mound.

  6. Another consideration is the somewhat likely event that Cueto will not go deep into tonights game. Who is our long man tonight? Duke, and then who? Simon, Ondrusek, Parra, Hoover all pitched 2/3 games in PIT. I would hate to “save” Reynolds for Wednesday, only to bring in Christiani or Partch in a tight game tonight.

    • @Redgoggles: Another good reason to really put the pressure on offensively, to try and get out to a big lead. Too bad we’re not playing our best offense, or batting the guys we’re playing in the wrong spots. (But at least we won’t have to worry as much about them bringing in a LH reliever in the late innings to face Votto and Bruce back to back!) #messeduppriorities

  7. Reds-Mets @ 7:10pm.
    Pirates-Cubs @ 8:05pm.
    Nats-Cards @ 8:15pm.

    I have an out-of-the-box question regarding the bean ball battle with Pit. Assuming that all 3 games against Pittsburgh will matter, if the umpires do not issue a warning before the game with Pittsburgh Friday night, and you want to protect your hitters from Pittsburgh’s pitchers for the weekend, why not start Reynolds Friday night with the intent to pitch him the first 1 inning? Have Reynolds and the scheduled starter both warm up. Have Reynolds plunk, of all people, McCutcheon, in the first inning so that the umpires will have to give the warning to both clubs. Then, the Reds hitters will be at a much reduced risk all weekend. If Reynolds does get tossed you have your regular starting pitcher ready to go. If he doesn’t get tossed the regular comes in at the top of the 2nd.
    A pre-emptive strike, if you will. Get it out of the way early, so that it isn’t looming over all 3 games. I’d hate to se a Pirate pitcher plunk Votto or Bruce in the hands and put them out of the post season games.

    • @WVRedlegs: If these games have any significance left, which is highly likely, I’d hope that both teams will worry about that and only that. The Pirates can put it in the book for next year if they need too :) I don’t think the Reds even give much of a darn about it in the first place. Inasmuch as the Pirates care, that’s probably in the Reds favor.

      • @Matt WI: This matters to the Parrots broadcasters and a couple of pointless scribes. Otherwise, I don’t think either team is going to reduce themselves to considering it. Evidently, it’s bothering some people on these blogs, though.

    • @WVRedlegs: Just guessing here, but I’m fairly sure the beanball stuff is over for now. Neither team wants to lose a pitcher on something stupid like getting tossed for throwing at someone.

    • @WVRedlegs: Maybe I’m being Pollyannish but I think it is over. Both teams probably wanted a way out and I’m thinking the behind Phillips back pitch did it. Pittsburgh can save face and Phillips didn’t get hit, so no harm done.

      These things are like bad habits in that they are hard to end. The ball is in the Reds court now and hopefully they decide to throw it out. And for God’s sake if we do hit a Pirate, please be anyone other than McCutchen.

  8. Wait: even with all the off days, we’ve somehow arranged things so that neither Latos nor Bailey is available to pitch in the (likely) scenario we go straight into the WC elimination game? Seriously? Even if Cueto dominates tonight, counting on him to do that in the WC game is just too risky.

    I could live with taking that risk on Sunday if the upside is a shot at the division or WC home field and the downside is playing in the WC game on the road. But not in game 163 (or 164) when the downside is going home for the winter.

    • @Eric the Red: That’s why I absolutely can’t believe this is the case. I think it’s just gamesmanship or misinformation. To what end, who knows, but how could they allow their two best pitchers to not be available for the WC game, and actually have to go out of their way to do it by inserting a bad pitcher into the rotation?

      Makes no sense. All they have to do is keep everyone on regular rest and you get Latos in the one game playoff, and Bailey starts the division series.

      Reynolds only use on this team right now should be as Cueto’s caddy. Go back to a 5 man rotation, but have some insurance against Cueto a) getting hurt or b) not going deep into the game.

      This doesn’t seem like rocket surgery.

  9. I say lets see what happens tonight. If Cueto pitches great tonight and feels good I would have no problem having him pitch the play-in game. If he doesn’t pitch well or doesn’t feel good, then bump Reynolds and move Latos up so he pitches on Wednesday and then Tuesday.

  10. Yeah, I don’t even understand listing Reynolds as a probable for for Wednesday, unless Dusty seriously intends to pitch him on Wednesday.

    The Reds need to determine if Cueto is a go as a starting pitcher for the playoffs. That doesn’t mean he has to be able to throw 120 pitches or 9 innings. Cueto just needs to be able to pitch 7 solid innings every time out. In order to be sure, Cueto needs 2 more starts before the playoffs begin. Cueto has pitched on 5 days rest for 2 consecutive starts. If he can’t pitch on 4 days rest and go 7 solid innings, the Reds need to consider Leake as the 4th starter for the playoffs. If Cueto is healthy and capable of pitching 7 solid innings on 4 days rest, he needs to prove it now.

  11. Threepoints:

    Cingrani: Not likely to pitch again this year. Any discussion about him, strictly academic.

    Latos: The guy has laid an egg all month.

    Cueto: He can pitch 7 innings. The man is in great condition.

    • @Johnu1: It’s really just been the last two starts for Latos. The two before that he went 16IP with 5 ER (2.81 ERA).

      The thing that worries me is that he’s not striking anyone out. In his 4 September starts he’s had 1, 4, 3, and 2 strike outs.

      • @al: Well, the last two may not be all month, but it’s the last two. He’s not the guy I want to depend on for a clincher, after what I’ve seen lately.

        • @Johnu1:

          You’re going to discount a season’s worth of excellent pitching in favor of only looking at the last two starts? Really?

  12. I’d say if Cueto looks good tonight, Latos moves up to Wednesday and Bailey and Arroyo move up a day and Cueto pitches Sunday if it means anything. Latos starts the play-in game with Leake and possibly Cueto on standby. Hopefully no tie for the division to complicate things further. You’d like to get Cueto 2 more starts but if he’s healthy you’d like to have him early in the playoffs, so maybe if Sunday’s game is meaningless you skip him. You have to have Leake on the roster as a potential starter/long man, unless Cingrani is available, which I don’t see happening. With that scenario, Cueto might start the first game of the playoffs. A lot to think about, a lot of different options.

  13. Winning the division is a huge advantage, do everything you can to win it.

    Getting home-field advantage is an advantage, try to get it, but don’t screw yourself in the process.

    If the Reds still have a chance at either of those things, Reynolds has no business on the mound, period. If they either clinch or have no hope for either, then Reynolds can pitch on Sunday to give other guys extra rest.

  14. The Reds either win the division or the play the WC game on 10/1. It really doesn’t matter which scenario occurs, the rotation isd already set in place for both options.

    9/23 Cueto on 5 days rest
    9/24 Leake on 6 days rest
    9/25 Latos on 4 days rest
    OFF DAY
    9/27 Bailey on 5 days rest
    9/28 Cueto on 4 days rest
    9/28 Arroyo on 6 days rest
    END OF REGULAR SEASON

    If the Reds play the WC game:
    10/01 Latos on 5 days rest
    Then the Reds either go to the NLDS or go home:
    10/03 Bailey on 5 days rest
    10/04 Cueto on 5 days rest
    OFF DAY
    10/06 Latos on 4 days rest
    10/07 Arroyo on 8 days rest if necessary
    10/08 Bailey on 4 days rest if necessary

    If the Reds win the NLCD they lead off with Latos, Bailey and Cueto, then follow with Arroyo and Latos if necessary.

    Reynolds has no role in the remaining regular season games unless it’s to pitch in a blowout to preserve the bullpen.

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