We know there are all kinds of minor injuries going on in the Reds rotation, but so far it looks as if only Latos will start on the DL, and that should be brief. And so, I will continue to approach the projection of the rotation as though all is well because I don’t know that it isn’t.

In looking at the three remaining pitchers slated to be part of the rotation, it is important to realize how good the Reds really have it. Whether or not he officially slots in fifth, Mike Leake is likely to be the fifth best starter on the team. Last year, his ERA was 3.37. The ERA for the entire NL was 3.74. His peripherals indicate he wasn’t maybe as good as his ERA made it seem, but the point holds. He’s the “worst” starter and he’s, at worst, average. This is a good place to be.

Let’s look at the numbers…

Homer Bailey
2013: 209.0 IP, 8.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.49 ERA
2014 Projection: 210 IP, 8.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.50 ERA

2013 WAR: 3.7 (FanGraphs), 3.2 (BBRef)
2013 RA-9: 3.5
2014 Best Guesses: 3.5, 3.5, 3.5
2014 Floor: 2.0
2014 Ceiling: 6.0

Tony Cingrani
2013: 136.0 IP*, 10.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 2.92 ERA
2014 Projection: 170 IP, 10.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 3.30 ERA

2013 WAR: 1.3 (FanGraphs), 2.2 (BBRef)
2013 RA-9: 2.3
2014 Best Guesses: 3.0, 3.0, 3.0
2014 Floor: 1.5
2014 Ceiling: 5.0
*Major and minor leagues (all other stats majors only)

Mike Leake
2013: 192.1 IP, 5.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.37 ERA
2014 Projection: 205 IP, 5.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 3.80 ERA

2013 WAR: 1.6 (FanGraphs), 3.0 (BBRef)
2013 RA-9: 3.2
2014 Best Guesses: 2.0, 2.5, 2.5
2014 Floor: 1.0
2014 Ceiling: 4.0

Not bad, huh? Let’s unpack things a bit.

First, it seems to me that the only thing standing between Homer and true greatness is that he sometimes has starts that are complete disasters. If he can fix that aspect of his game, he will immediately become a truly elite pitcher. Indeed, that may happen this year, but I’m not projecting it because that would be a dangerous game. As it is, I think he’s a borderline all-star.

Cingrani is probably the wild card in the rotation. I project him to get basically a full season’s worth of innings, but I expect there will be some limiting on the part of the Reds. The big questions are how the league will respond to him in his second year and whether or not he can limit his walks and pitch count to go deeper into games. As it stands now, his peripherals are not unlike certain parts of the careers of Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan. I’m not kidding. Go look them up. Pretty much all of the projections think he’ll continue to strikeout at least 10 batters per 9 innings. That’s huge.

I project him to improve on the walks. I’m going off some of what Price has said there. Cingrani is the one pitcher on the staff where I really feel better about him than most of the projections. I’m very optimistic. I guess will see how right I am.

Leake is becoming an interesting case. He’s been generally healthy and his innings have continually increased. As it stands, I feel comfortable projecting him to break 200 innings for the first time and officially step into his role as the second-coming of Bronson Arroyo. Additionally, batters put the ball in play against him a lot and so, as long as he plays for the Reds with their stellar defense, the WAR numbers are going to have a hard time with him. Thus, he joins Cueto as the only other pitcher whose value I expect to vary significantly across the various systems.

And, of course, this all comes with the caveat that other pitchers will start games for the Reds. We know, in fact, that Alfredo Simon will open the season in the rotation. However, in the long run, I’m uncomfortable predicting injuries for any one pitcher. I’ll make a team-wide adjustment in the wrap-up, which should come your way on Thursday. For now, just know that any other pitchers who start for the Reds are likely to be more or less replacement level.

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. Time for you to have your say. Tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Joey Votto
Brandon Phillips
Zack Cozart
Ryan Ludwick
Billy Hamilton
Jay Bruce
Todd Frazier
Devin Mesoraco
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Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Cingrani has talked this spring about a radical improvement in his slider from last year. That would be a devastating weapon to add to his fastball.

  2. Okay now what I was trying to say is that I think Homer Bailey is the pitching equivalent of Jay Bruce. He came into the league young and with much fanfare. He always seems to be on the precipice of greatness. When he is on he is truly great. But he is prone to instances of being very bad. If he can minimize those instances he will be a Perrenial all-star.

  3. If Bailey is healthy to start the year, then Simon takes Latos’ spot. I would honestly put B Marshall in the rotation and put Simon in the BP to stabilize it while we are dealing with all the injuries. Well since Schumaker is on the DL, Bernadina and Nelson are surely making this team now. Our pitching staff might look like this:

    Cueto, Bailey, Leake, Simon, Cingrani
    Hoover, LeCure, Parra, Ondrusek, Christiani, Beato, B Marshall

    B Hamilton, Phillips, Votto, Bruce, Ludwick, Frazier, Mesoraco, Cozart
    Heisey, Pena, Bernadina, Nelson, with Soto, Negron and Santiago battling for the last bench spot. I would go with Soto, he’s on the 40 man. I would rather have Negron over Santiago.

    • That pen is pretty bad. The more and more I look at this team, the more I’m seeing a .500 season. It’s a shame, but the depth just isn’t there and if Broxton and Marshall don’t combine for 100 or so IP, this team’s strength will end up being pretty average due to a sub-par bullpen. I am pulling hard for Chapman but there is certainly a chance that he won’t be the same guy that we’ve known, and have loved arguing about over the last couple years. An incident like his can just change a person forever. There have been some questions about Chapman’s character but if the man can come back and be himself after taking that liner, I think those questions should be put to bed for good.

  4. Given the uncertainty with Cueto and Latos, we need as many innings from these 3 as possible.

  5. I am not worried. Congratulations Dayton Flyers.

  6. Hopefully we can stay healthy and we won’t have to test any depth. At the very least Brett Marshall looks to be some solid depth, and has pitched well this spring.

  7. Why do we keep Ondrusek?? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to cut him and give his spot to Beato or Marshall?

    • Have you seen Marshall pitch in MLB? His stuff is marginal at best. He’s had a very nice spring but honestly, as ‘average’ as Ondrusek is, I don’t think Marshall is that good. If the Reds have to rely on B. Marshall to throw a lot of innings, that’s not going to go well for this team. I think there will be a lot of very unhappy Reds’ fans who are high on B. Marshall now who will be complaining about him regularly.

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


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