2010 Reds

Homer Bailey to the bullpen?

In our most recent podcast, Bill and I discussed the possibility of moving Homer Bailey to the bullpen temporarily when (if?) he returns in the near future. We are both long-time Homer fans, and there is no question that Homer needs to be a starting pitcher for the long-term, but putting him in the pen for a couple of months this year could (a) clear up the logjam in the rotation and (b) shore up the bullpen.

Check out John Fay’s report here:

Homer Bailey will throw a simulated game tomorrow. He’s seven days from a minor league rehab assignment.

“Everything is feeling really good,” he said. “Now, I’ve got to build my pitch count all the way back up.”

Bailey is still a ways away obviously. Given how late it is in the season, their position in the standing and the depth of starting pitching, would the Reds consider Bailey for a relief role?

“I don’t know,” Dusty Baker said. “Right now, we’re conditioning him as a starter.”

Bailey has never relieved – except under the piggy-back system used in the minors one year – but he’s willing.

“Whatever they want me to do,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to make adjustments. I’ll do whatever they want me to.”

I like Homer’s response, certainly. What are your thoughts?

40 thoughts on “Homer Bailey to the bullpen?

  1. Really good question.

    I can see the benefit of having him in the bullpen, especially if that takes some pressure off of his shoulder, although I’m not knowledgeable about it to know if it does.

    As a starter, Homer can fill an important role, even assuming everyone stays healthy, as a replacement for Mike Leake to help keep his innings down.

    I also think it’s a little unreasonable to expect both Leake and Travis Wood to continue pitching as well as they have started off. So having Homer there to sub in for either of them would give the staff some flexibility.

    With Harang, Bailey, Burton, Isringhausen and Chapman in the wings for the second half of the year, it should be interesting to see how they handle the roster.

  2. I don’t follow pitching at the depth some in fandom do. But I have read multiple times that Homer Bailey does not have an ‘out’ pitch (which I guess means a pitch he can reliably throw with two strikes) and that this makes him extremely vulnerable.

    Anyone able to chime in on that? Is this true? Is it an essential ability that he just doesn’t have that will make him a bust?

  3. you gotta think Leake is getting shut down before long. Chapman is already experimenting in the bullpen, i say give Homer a chance to regain his swagger from the second half of last year

  4. You know my opinion. There really isn’t a logjam at starting pitcher, and Homer Bailey is not very good (except against the Pirates). The upside is that he’s still young that he could turn it around. That said, he’s never posted an ERA below 5.00. Ouch. I think that of all the young pitchers the Reds have Cueto, Volquez, Wood, Leake, Chapman, etc. Bailey is the odd man out. That’s quite sad for a former No. 1 prospect.

    • That said, he’s never posted an ERA below 5.00.

      His 2009 ERA was 4.09. His 2007 ERA was 4.51. So it’s accurate to say he’s never posted an ERA below 4.00.

      It’s important to remember that Homer Bailey is still very young. He is younger than Jordan Smith, Logan Andrusek and Johnny Cueto. Homer is less than a year older than Travis Wood and a year and four months older than Mike Leake.

      Both Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney are older than all the above pitchers.

  5. @Josh Rose: He’s at 110 Ip right now. I think they plan on getting him 10-12 more starts, stretched out over the remainder of the season if they can manage it.

  6. i would prefer Harang going down there as i think he is more mentally able to handle pitching out of the pen over Homer. Plus i would think that there has to be a bit more stress on a bullpen arm with the quick warming up, daily warming up and such over a starting pitcher.

  7. Like his response, but one interesting thing the article mentions that I wish they would consider (but doubt they will) is the notion of piggybacking a couple of starters. With Woods and Leake facing innings limitations and Bailey coming back from injury and Owings having nothing to do it seems you could work a system where your “starter” knows he is going to go 3-4 innings, the next guy plans on going 3-4 and you have the traditional relievers pick up the rest. Yes, it wastes a roster spot but we are already carrying 12 pitchers and Owings to no apparent purpose, and it would help manage innings going forward.

    The other thing I wonder about putting Bailey in the pen, and I do not know if I missed an answer to this question in another thread, is whether you actually increase his risk of further injury by pitching him in relief when he has not done it before. Yes, he would be pitching fewer innings, but pitching more frequently, getting up and down to warm-up, not pitching on a set schedule. I wonder if there is any data on that.

  8. I appreciate Homer’s attitude, but I just don’t see him making it as a reliever. I’ve got serious doubts about him making it as a starter, too, at this point.

  9. Well seeing the wonderful lineup ole Dusty has thrown together tonight, I don’t think it much matters whom is pitching or where. I mean really I challenge anyone to be positive about:

    Orlando
    Janish
    Votto
    Gomes
    Bruce
    Cairo
    Stubbs
    Miller

    ugh 😦

    • Well seeing the wonderful lineup ole Dusty has thrown together tonight, I don’t think it much matters whom is pitching or where.I mean really I challenge anyone to be positive about:Orlando
      Janish
      Votto
      Gomes
      Bruce
      Cairo
      Stubbs
      Millerugh

      You left out Mike Leake! 😀

    • I don’t think it much matters whom is pitching or where. I mean really I challenge anyone to be positive about:

      Two Words: Joey Votto.

  10. Correction on Homer’s 2009 ERA: It was 4.53.

    I got the 4.09 out of a book and it must be an adjusted figure of some kind, but I can’t tell what the adjustment is. Still, his unadjusted ERA was below 5.00.

    Regarding the claim that Homer is only good against the Pirates, his streak of healthy, quality starts at the end of last year included games against:

    St. Louis – 7IP, 1ER, 7K, 1BB
    Florida – 7IP, 0ER, 8K, 2BB
    LA Dodgers – 8IP, 0ER, 7K, 1BB

    Those are some pretty good hitting teams. It also challenges the notion that he doesn’t have a strike out pitch.

    I’m not saying that Homer is a future Cy Young, or that there is no doubt that he’ll succeed. I just think we should base our opinions on a full understanding of the facts.

  11. @Steve: I do stand corrected. That’s what I get for going with memory and not confirming. That said, picking three of Homer’s best games and saying that’s evidence of who he is as a pitcher is not very objective.

  12. I can be positive about tonight’s lineup. Especially since Gomes, Cairo and Stubbs are in it. They went a combined 8-11 with 2HR and 5 of the Reds 7 runs last night against better pitcher than Luis Atliano.

    Plus, we get to see Corky Miller’s mustache…

    • Wow glad someone can, because fans going to tonight’s game should really either get tix’s at a reduced price or a refund since they are not getting a ML quality team tonight.

      I can be positive about tonight’s lineup. Especially since Gomes, Cairo and Stubbs are in it. They went a combined 8-11 with 2HR and 5 of the Reds 7 runs last night against better pitcher than Luis Atliano.Plus, we get to see Corky Miller’s mustache…

      • Wow glad someone can, because fans going to tonight’s game should really either get tix’s at a reduced price or a refund since they are not getting a ML quality team tonight.

        Well the Reds can afford to not have a “ML quality team” tonight against the Nationals because that’s exactly what the Nationals are. Something tells me with Leake pitching, the Reds will be just fine, even with a few key players out. This is the perfect game to get guys like Phillips some rest. Plus, Rolen and Hernandez are still hurt so they wouldn’t be playing anyway and Hanigan has been pretty weak since his return from the DL.

        I’ll bet you the Reds get a win tonight…

  13. My feeling on Homer is that he is Edinson Volquez, and I wish he could put it together without having to move to another organization to do it.

    Homer as a reliever? I thought a coach was quoted once saying that he and Cueto weren’t good fits for the bullpen because, at least at that time, they couldn’t warm up quickly…needed longer to stretch out.

    I don’t know how valid that is, whether it still holds true, or whether that is a coachable thing that can be easily fixed.

  14. I too don’t believe Homer has a plus out pitch to be effective in that role unless he can throw in the upper 90s, and Harang gives up way too many hits per innings to be effective there.
    As for Wood and Leake, I think they’ve done a fine job w/ Leake and don’t see any harm unless we go deep in the playoffs. I wouldn’t put any contstraints on Wood since he’s pitched a full season before.

  15. @Greg Dafler: I don’t see the comparison to Volquez, who at least has electric stuff. I don’t see Homer, even though he throws fairly hard, as having electric stuff. Hasn’t Homer had a lot more innings in the bigs, compared to Volquez as a Ranger?

    I can’t see how there is room for Bailey on this team. Next year, you are looking at Chapman, Wood, Leake, Cueto, just to start things off. I don’t like Homer, but even if I did, he’s well behind those other guys.

  16. I’m about to leave for GABP but I just saw this and was shocked. Has anyone else seen this reported elsewhere before? From MLBTR:

    The Reds could lose Gary Matthews Jr. to free agency if they don’t call him up by next Tuesday, July 24th, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Matthews has an out clause that will enable him to opt out of the deal he signed with the Reds if he isn’t in the majors.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/07/gary-matthews-jr-has-out-clause.html

    • I’m about to leave for GABP but I just saw this and was shocked. Has anyone else seen this reported elsewhere before? From MLBTR: The Reds could lose Gary Matthews Jr. to free agency if they don’t call him up by next Tuesday, July 24th, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Matthews has an out clause that will enable him to opt out of the deal he signed with the Reds if he isn’t in the majors.http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/07/gary-matthews-jr-has-out-clause.html

      If Bruce keeps scuffling, I wonder how seriously Dusty and Walt are considering swapping GMJ and Bruce…Something tells me GMJ gets called up to the Reds in the next week, it’s just a matter or who the Reds send down to Louisville.

      • If Bruce keeps scuffling, I wonder how seriously Dusty and Walt are considering swapping GMJ and Bruce…Something tells me GMJ gets called up to the Reds in the next week, it’s just a matter or who the Reds send down to Louisville.

        Matthews is only going to play in one spot and that CF. Stubbs, Heisey, or Nix are the ones on the bubble. I pray that Jocketty understands that a 35-year-old batting .330 against AAA pitching is really not impressive. They are usually called filler.

  17. One more. There is an article behind the pay wall at ESPN about how the Reds now have the best infield in baseball. I thought, oh well, more praise for the veteran Orlando Cabrera, but no:

    That said, with the trade deadline approaching fast, there is still room for improvement. Cabrera has been awful at shortstop, as his .286 wOBA ranks only above Ryan Theriot and Alcides Escobar among qualified NL shortstops. And the fact that the Reds still have the NL’s best infield in spite of Cabrera is a testament to the excellence of Votto, Phillips and Rolen. Cabrera still brings roughly average defense to the table, but he’s a black hole at the plate. He doesn’t walk (20 this season) and has little to no power (three homers thus far). As such, he’s been only a 0.5 WAR player. If the Reds want to outlast the St. Louis Cardinals, shortstop is one position that they could look to upgrade before July 31, possibly with Stephen Drew or other shortstops on the market.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?id=5393418

    • I just gagged in my mouth at that statement.

      The Reds could lose Gary Matthews Jr. to free agency if they don’t call him up by next Tuesday, July 24th, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Matthews has an out clause that will enable him to opt out of the deal he signed with the Reds if he isn’t in the majors.

  18. Apparently Homer has star talent or we wouldn’t be talking about him (Dunn, Griffey, Larkin, Robinson, Bruce, even Nuxhall come to mind). After all, if the Reds can’t win, our pattern is to blame the best players while we defend the indefensible (Cabrera, Taveras, Patterson, Reese).

    Anyway, the Reds call up these young guys before they’re ready, promote them as being ready, or don’t defend them when they’re playing hurt, and then leave them dangling to the wolves as the team goes down in flames. (no flames this year to this point)

    Through age 23, Volquez had pitched 80 major league innings with a 7.20 ERA, with a 3-11 record. Bailey had pitched 195 innings with a 5.45 ERA and a 12-13 record.

    So, Bailey is two runs better than Volquez per game at the end of last year.

    Age 24 was Volquez’s breakout year with the Reds, which we had seen Bailey do the last month of last season and now he’s hurt.

    Volquez ERA at age 23 was 4.50 in 34 innings; Bailey was 4.53 in 113 innings.

    In the minors, Bailey has 535 innings wiht 3.67 ERA, 36-27 record. Volquz has 578 innings, 3.60 ERA and a 40-27 record. 3-0 and 1.96 ERA through 23 innings this year raised his record, and lowered his ERA.

    Their records are nearly identical in historical context…I would argue that Bailey’s stuff was better than Volquez’s, or may be he was more “marketable” than Volquez leading to his earlier trials…which is what has sickened many people about him.

    Bailey’s out pitch is the splitter.

  19. Through age 23, Volquez had pitched 80 major league innings with a 7.20 ERA, with a 3-11 record. Bailey had pitched 195 innings with a 5.45 ERA and a 12-13 record.

    Well…looking back at my statement…Bailey was far ahead of Volquez at the end of his age 23 season…then he’s hurt this year.

  20. As for Bailey, I think the bullpen would be a fine learning step for him. I’m curious as to what happened to the split finger he was throwing last year? Do we need Lehr to be an assistant to the bullpen coach to reteach it to him?

  21. @Dave Lowenthal: I really don’t know where you get this stuff about Bruce. You do realize that he has been the Reds’ most valuable OFer this season in terms of WAR? Yesterday you wanted to trade him for Soria. Today you want to send him down and call up GMJ?! Check out his comparables through age 22 which I posted yesterday. Names like Barry Bonds, Adam Dunn and Mr. October are on that list.

  22. @mpstamp: I wouldn’t be shocked if Rolen went on the DL and the Reds called up GMJ. That is a FAR more likely scenario than Bruce to Louisville. Bruce to Louisville is a kin to Braun to Nashville. It’s called a slump. The guy hit .270/.387/.440 in May and .307/.339/.485 in June.

    • @mpstamp: Bruce to Louisville is a kin to Braun to Nashville.

      And did you really just compare Jay Bruce to Ryan Braun. I love Bruce but come on, they’re not even in the same league…

  23. @Steve Price: Well, as I said, Bailey is still very young for a pitcher. His xFIP is about a run better than his actual ERA and his FIP to date shows a better pitcher than the numbers bear out. I think it’s 100% mental with the guy. That said, assuming the Reds don’t re-up Harang or Arroyo or trade for a guy with multiple years left on his deal, who sits out of next year’s rotation. The Reds have Volquez, Cueto, Chapman, Leake, Wood, Bailey, LeCure, Maloney and Klinker? My guess is the rotation is Volquez, Cueto, Leake, Wood and Chapman (BTW writing all these names just gave me goosebumps).

    Also, you are dead wrong when it comes to Homer’s “out pitch.” You claim his split finger is the out pitch. Well, he’s been throwing it more often than last season. Bailey’s splitter above average per 100 pitches is -4.40 which means about 4.40 runs below average, which is down from last season. It’s his worst pitch.

    • The Reds have Volquez, Cueto, Chapman, Leake, Wood, Bailey, LeCure, Maloney and Klinker? My guess is the rotation is Volquez, Cueto, Leake, Wood and Chapman

      I’m not certain Chapman will be ready next year. I don’t think he will be, actually…I see him getting close to being ready at the end of next year. 48 walks in 77 innings, 1.5 baserunners per inning in AAA is not getting it done.

      Maloney, LeCure, and Klinker are back of rotation starters.

      I think Arroyo will be on the team…he’s proving far too valuable to give up.

      As for Volquez/Cueto…we must watch the injury bug; I guess throw Bailey in t here, too (thank you, Dusty).

      Leake and Wood will be up and down…Wood’s best pitch is his changeup; Leake’s game is location. We’ll have to see how they adjust as hitters adjust to them. Baseball history is littered with pitchers who have great rookie seasons and then fade. We have to hope that won’t happen.

      Anyway…I’m fine with six starters…if there’s a manager who knows how to manage a bullpen…

      As for Homer’s splitter…it was his out pitch in the fall…makes one wonder about what changed?

      I think we’ve already forgotten 3 of his last four starts (before his injury) were well pitched games, too…and look who was catching…

      Game scores with Ramon Hernandez catching: 44, 31, 34, 49, 22

      Game scores with Ryan Hanigan catching: 53, 85, 63, and a 37 in the injury game (2 1/3 innings)

      Last season when Baile was so hot? Hernandez only caught one of his final nine games pitched….

  24. @David: Yeah I agree that it would make way more sense for Rolen to hit the DL and GMJ to be called up but what exactly makes Bruce untouchable? Edwin Encarnacion had times when he played brilliantly and other times, when he slumped for an extended period of time, they sent him to Louisville. So what’s the difference between EE and Bruce (offensively that is)?

    I agree that Bruce is in a slump but man is it a horrible slump. He’s batting just .130 with an OBP of .190 and 0 RBI in the month of July. Yes, through 20 days in July he has 0 RBI.

  25. @mpstamp: What I said was that it was “a kin” i.e. relative to Braun to Nashville. If you didn’t noticed Braun’s line in June, it was .264/.299/.409, and he is currently “hitting” .239/.271/.448 in July. The relative comparison would be neurotic Brewers fans calling for Braun to work out his slump in Nashville.

  26. @Steve Price: You didn’t really answer the question. You point out the question marks of all these guys, and your basic conclusion is that an abundance of starters is a good thing.

    If the Reds keep Arroyo (as I also think they should) the rotation will be Volquez, Arroyo, Cueto, Leake, and one of (Wood, Bailey, Chapman, LeCure, Maloney, Klinker). While LeCure, Maloney and Klinker ARE “back of the rotation guys” we are debating about filling out the “back of the rotation.”

    So, who is your five? To me, the premise which you aren’t really accepting here is that Homer Bailey is not one of the five best starters on this team. He could be eventually, but right now he isn’t, and Chapman may jump him too.

    • So, who is your five? To me, the premise which you aren’t really accepting here is that Homer Bailey is not one of the five best starters on this team. He could be eventually, but right now he isn’t, and Chapman may jump him too.

      It’s never a matter of the best five when it comes to roster management. The best five can change every single day.

      It’s the best five for the organization and that includes talent management when it comes to options, waivers, ability, and potential.

      Pitchers are different than hitters in that “sometimes” a pitcher can develop something new which makes them extremely effective. It’s a rarity, but happens more often for pitchers than hitters.

      But, age is still the most telling factor to work with…some players peak early, but the “rule” is that players will continue to improve as they age, wiht normal peak seasons being ages 26-30.

      And, history says the best starting pitchers normally reach the majors at an early age (21-23); later developers are usually relievers. 50 years of Reds history shows that, too.

      That being said…Maloney and LeCure probably won’t get much better, and Klinker is probably close to maxing out. Bailey is 2-3 years younger and is just as good at this point, which indicates he should get better. It doesn’t mean he will, but none of the guys mentioned in this paragraph have come close to putting up a series of games like Bailey did late last year. For that matter, Leake and Wood haven’t either and they’re similar in age to Bailey.

      Bailey is out of options and can’t be sent down. So, he’s in the mix because the Reds have to think about the future as well as this year…thus the back of the rotation argument falls to more than “who’s going to win today.” The Reds need to use the back of the rotation with the future in mind, too.

      Anyway…now that we know Bailey was hurt, how do we know that that wasn’t the problem anyway? He was easily our best pitcher at the end of last year and Dusty rode him hard…just like Volquez was our best pitcher the year before and Dusty rode him hard at season’s end and Volquez got hurt last year….the same age that Bailey got hurt.

      I think the Volquez-Bailey analogy was a pretty good one…my answer is find a manager that can be flexible with the pitching staff, matching them up to the competition. Dusty should understand that concept…it was common practice in the 1970’s.

      So, the reason we aren’t mad at Volquez is because we traded for him and didn’t see him when he was a poor pitcher and the reason we’re made at Bailey is that he came up in our system and we witnessed the development?

Comments are closed.