Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey are both not going to be ready to go when Opening Day begins. This is not ideal. Correspondingly, I have been tasked* with writing a worst-case scenario for the rotation. And that’s harder than you think.

* Editor’s note: who’s the dumb editor that assigned this topic to Jason? csd

There are a lot of moving parts in the rotation this year. Lots of prospects trying to gain a foothold. Lots of innings limits to worry about. Just lots and lots of lots. So many lots, that I was having a hard time figuring out how to define the worst case scenario. And then it came to me.

In the worst case scenario, Bronson Arroyo and Scott Feldman combine to make 65 starts.

In terms of play this year, there are certainly worse things that could happen. One can dream up all manner of nightmarish scenarios. But this is supposed to be the year things Get Sorted and we find out who’s Good Enough. Arroyo and Feldman are meant to be filler. They’re good guys who have had good careers, but at this point, they are innings-eaters who allow the sorting to happen, but who can also be put aside when the team is firing on all cylinders.

We already know, of course, that the Reds won’t open the season firing on all cylinders, but if Arroyo and Feldman spend the entire year in the rotation, it means things have gone horribly wrong. It means Disco and Bailey have been hurt all year. Or it means that something happened to Brandon Finnegan. Or it means that Amir Garret or Cody Reed or Robert Stephenson (or some combination of the three of them) really haven’t panned out. Or it means that several or even all of these things are true.

In short, the worst case scenario for the 2017 rotation is that the 2018 rotation is still a giant question mark at the end of the season.

46 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Jason I think the worst case scenario, as you’ve hinted, is not what might happen in 2017, but where the Reds might be one year from now. If Disco and Bailey don’t return, or don’t return fully healthy, or perhaps worst of all are healthy but never effective again, that’s two more spots to fill permanently. If Reed, Garrett and Stephenson struggle and never find their MLB mojo, or they get hurt, that leaves Finnegan alone on the Cincinnati mound as the future of Reds starting pitching. And at that point we’ll be asking the same questions about Romano and Davis and Mella and more that we’re asking now about Reed and Garret and Stephenson. And we’ll be wondering the same things we’re wondering now about the durability of Iglesias and Lorenzen, all over again. And all of that sounds awful to me. It’s got to be better than that, right? I’m choosing to be optimistic. I’m ready for Opening Day.

  2. WVRedlegs

    Well, if Bronson, Feldman, and Adelman make up 3/5 of the rotation on Opening Day, it could be a bad omen. But if Reed and/or RStephenson don’t impress, that is what we will see, at least for the first two weeks. Until they can bring up Garrett, or Romano, or Davis, or a couple of them once they pass that service time consideration date.
    The auditions for the rotation continue, still after 1 1/2 seasons of it.
    The hard part though, is thinking of what could have been. A rotation of Bailey, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Iglesias, and Finnegan would have made a pretty nice one. But 4 go by the wayside. We’re left with Finnegan, paw-paw Bronson and paw-paw Feldman, ad a lot of uncertainty to start the season. This is the Mt. Everest of opportunity for RStepehnson, Reed, Garrett, Davis and Romano. At least two of these guys have to take a giant leap this year in their progression and for the team’s progression.

      • WVRedlegs

        Grandpa, or an Appalachian banana. A wild, sweet, luscious fruit. Grandpa in my context, but you can take your pick.

      • lwblogger2

        Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch!

  3. Jim Walker

    I agree that the worst case scenario would be still looking at a substantially unresolved starting rotation heading into 2018. The even worse news if Feldman and Arroyo end up with 65 starts is that Romano and Davis will have also failed to answer the call by the end of 2017. The very belief that the depth and quality of the Reds pitching is the foundation for this rebuild “life cycle” would be open to question.

    • Reaganspad

      I miss OhioJim

      Romano of all the youngins looks like the real deal to me. I think by the end of the year we are talking about Romano and who slots in the rotation behind him (for our playoff rotation of course) even if Disco is healthy.

  4. larry

    Arroyo hasn’t pitched in two years. He’s forty. Even if overcomes all odds and is able to start for the reds, I can’t imagine that he would pitch more than 100 innings before he gets shut down. I refuse to believe Bailey won’t be back, but perhaps with the 2 to 3 innings per game limit a la Lorenzen, Iggy and ,Congrit (spelling). I hope Disco doesn’t need T J maybe some platelets and rest will help. I think we can bring up our army of starters in 10-15 days if necessary (Garrett, Davis, et al). Finnagan should also be better than last year. Yes, if all if these pictures fail miserably we will be in deep caca, but it can’t go that bad, can it?

    • Ed Koverman

      Yeah I want to see the youngsters

  5. BigRedMike

    I like Arroyo, but, not sure how the Reds have come to the point where this is an option to start. Bailey and Disclafani being injured is the key component I guess

    This rebuild is kind of shaky at this point. 2 hitters in the Fangraphs Top 100 prospects and not much young hitting talent on the current roster. Impact hitting is needed.

    Tough to develop pitching with all the injury risk. Look at the Mets.

  6. Redgoggles

    “Reds sign former All Star Alfredo Simon to anchor rotation”……would be up there.

    • Patrick Jeter

      A person after my own heart.

      Don’t think it wouldn’t have crossed WJ’s mind!!

  7. Sliotar

    A good case could be made to go and sign Doug Fister, still a free agent, and give him Arroyo’s innings. Then, try and flip Fister, like Straily was. Arroyo has no choice but to go along with the decision, other than retire. He isn’t getting a role anywhere else.

    The Colorado Rockies are a good example as to the hazards of declaring a firm start time to being the Next Good Team. They have a better offense than the Reds, further blooded young starting pitching and made key free agents signings (Desmond, Holland) to get them into the playoff hunt.

    Several key injuries and illness (Bettis’s cancer) in Spring Training, and their 2017 plans are in jeopardy before a regular-season game has been played.

  8. ScottyA

    It also would mean that Rookie Davis and Sal Romano didn’t surprise and make it into the starting rotation at some point this season (not the most likely scenario, but would be very good news). The best case might look something like this: Rotation is Desclafani, Bailey, Finnegan, Reed & Garrett from July on. Then Romano and Davis become top 100 prospects.

    And the dow jones goes up to 22000 :).

    • sixpacktwo

      Desclafani goes to 60 day DL, which opens a spot for a released pitcher at end of Spring training.

  9. Shchi Cossack

    I’ll take a little different take on the concept and begin at the beginning…the opening day starting rotation. The 4th most disturbing information I’ve seen coming out of spring training (behind Bailey’s surgery, Hererra’s shoulder & Disco’s elbow) is the recent report by Sheldon regarding his projection for the 25-man roster heading northeast.

    “With five weeks of camp observations, conversations and information to rely on, here is the prediction of the Reds’ roster when they open the 2017 season on April 3 vs. the Phillies at Great American Ball Park.” The observation part doesn’t bother me so much, but the conversations and information parts are really disturbing.

    To clear roster space, Disco should be placed on the 60-day DL and retroed back to his last appearance. This hasn’t happened yet, but the Reds also haven’t needed to 40-man roster space yet either. He will be out of action at least 60 days, even in a best-case scenario, to account for his recovery time and then his throwing preparations before he is ready to rejoin the starting rotation.

    Starting rotation:
    Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Bronson Arroyo

    If any of this comes from DW and/or Price, then the Old Cossack is ready to chuck the 2017 season out the window and push the rebuild back to 2019.

    Finnegan should be an absolute lock to start the 2017 season in the starting rotation. Right behind him should come Reed. Unless something happens between now and opening day, those 2 decisions shouldn’t have any dispute.

    Unless the Reds management have determined that Stephenson isn’t and will never be a starting pitcher at the major league level, Stephenson’s the 3rd poitcher in the starting rotation. This bunk about him going to the bullpen to cover innings is pure, unadulterated bunk. Both Reed and Stephensen stunk up the rotation last season, in their initial forray into MLB, but both seem to have learned some leassons and made some necessary adjustments over the off season. The Reds need to find out for sure what the future prospects are regarding Reed and Stephenson and they need to find out now.

    After those three starters are in place, then Feldman (and his major-league contract) needs to be in the starting rotation. The 5th starter should be Adleman since he’s already on the 40-man roster, but I can reasonably see Arroyo making a case to take the 5th starting rotation slot with some solid performances over the final weeks of spring training.

    If (and that’s a BIG WHOPPING IF) the Reds manage to compete for a wildcard position, the Reds are going to need the young starters pitching at the end of the season. The question is which young starters. Garrett and Romano may very well factor into that question. The Reds will need to nurse them along regarding their innings if they have any hope at all of competing at the end of the season and the easiest way to do that is limiting their innings while starting at AAA before promoting them to the 25-man roster as needed.

    • BK

      +1. Reed, Stephenson & Adleman/Arroyo is the way to go. Long-term, I prefer Adleman in the pen.

    • lwblogger2

      I’ve already determined that it will be at least 2019. I think 2018 is incredibly optimistic and that’s without some of what Sheldon predicts come true.

  10. IndyRedMan

    How hard would it be to get Keyvius Sampson back? He had 42K in 39 IP for the Reds last year and always had good stuff! He’s still only 26! He could be the 5th man in a pinch and work up to 5 innings. I would be concerned about letting any of the youngsters take a beating like Reed did last year.

    • Jason Linden

      I thought it was strange that they let him go like they did. He had legitimate upside. Ted Power spoke highly of him.

      • Jim Walker

        Especially given that they kept Jumbo and a couple of other guys. I’ve wondered if this was a situation where there was more going on than reached the public’s eyes and ears.

      • lwblogger2

        ‘Tis possible. I was a bit surprised they let him go so easily considering the arm and his age.

  11. Soapboxes

    Whatever the worst case scenario is it cannot possibly be worse than this…..

    Brandon Claussen, Luke Hudson, Eric Milton, Ramon Ortiz, Elizardo Ramirez, Paul Wilson

    That was 2005 FYI

  12. Soapboxes

    I did leave out Aaron Harang by accident. He was the only upside to that rotation. At least with our young guys a number of them have good scouting reports and some rank high as prospects. The early 200’s uhhhhhh the dark ages it was.

    • greenmtred

      The early 200’s were certainly dark ages, too.

      • Soapboxes

        Hahaha I had that coming! But Rome hadn’t fallen yet in the 200’s so it might not have been that bad yet if you were a Roman.

      • greenmtred

        But only if you were a Roman. A rich one, at that.

  13. sezwhom

    I hear Jimmy Haynes is available. Maybe he can rekindle some of that magic from 2002.

  14. Preach

    Today’s headline:

    Either Brandon Finnegan or Scott Feldman will get Reds’ Opening Day start


  15. David

    I have my doubts about Amir Garrett and Sal Romano being on the Opening Day roster because of the whole issue of major league time. Having said that, they do BELONG on the Opening Day roster and in the rotation if it was truly about taking the best players out of Arizona.
    As it is, the likely Opening Day rotation will likely be Finnegan (and that’s OK), Scott Feldman (meh), Cody Reed (we’ll give him time), Robert Stephenson (same thing) and Tim Adelman (who is not that good). I don’t think Bronson is strong enough to go five innnings, and may end up as the “long man” in the pen.
    By May, the weakest link(s) gets pushed off the roster for either Garrett and/or Romano, if they continue what they are doing now into the AAA season.

    I think Bailey will be back sometime, maybe in June. I have my doubts about Desclafani being back this year as a starter.

  16. old-school

    Finnegan and Feldman are givens. Price has said so.
    Before ST started and before Straily was traded, FSO did an interview with Amir Garrett and he stated clearly his goal was to make the Reds out of ST as the 5th starter….. Mack Jenkins was interviewed in the same piece and spoke glowingly about Garrett and on the record said he would be given every opportunity to be the 5th starter.

    Fast forward 5-6 weeks.

    The Reds traded their #3 starter. Their # 1 and #2 starters got hurt. All the while, Garrett has clearly outpitched the remaining competition. I cant see how the Reds make promises of a fair competition publicly to Amir Garret and then he still goes to Louisville?

    Service time or no….the Reds boxed themselves into a corner publicly.
    Garrett is the #3 starter and he will be in Cincinnati to start the year.
    Reed/Stephenson/Arroyo/Adelman will be the 4/#5.

    Adelman will be kept as insurance and based on his track record last year- but I don’t believe he can get hitters out with regularity at the major league level.
    Arroyo is a great story and I’d love to see him succeed….. but that’s very unlikely.
    The door is wide open for Reed and Stephenson to claim the 4/5 spots.
    Should be an interesting few weeks.

    • David

      Garrett is a top drawer talent, and SHOULD be on the Opening Day roster, but will go to AAA for three weeks because of service time issues. It’s not right in terms of doing the right thing by Garrett and the fans (short term), but buys another year of control for the Reds.
      Somebody made a very good argument the other day about Garrett’s age when he will actually reach free agency, and if he hasn’t proved himself by then, who cares?

      I think Adelmann and Feldman are both…meh. Not quite as bad as Jason Marquis, but about one step above.

      I would like to see Finnegan, Garrett, Reed, Stephenson and Romano as the starting rotation, with Feldman as the long man/swing man in the pen. Sure that’s young, and three lefty’s in the rotation, but let’s get on with it.

      I don’t expect Bailey back until June (and then maybe in the Bull Pen), and really don’t expect much out of Disco at all this year. Just bad luck again for him.

      • Streamer88

        It isn’t iron clad but most young starters who go on to be good have considerable struggle in their first 150-250 innings in the bigs. A Doc Gooden or Kerry Wood situation is the exception. So Reed (already started taking his licks), Stephenson, Garrett, Romano etc all will be average to bad before they’ll be good. I say throw them all in the fire now. Otherwise we’re looking at 2019 before a serious threat to win 90 games.

  17. Shchi Cossack

    Not sure what happened yet, but Arroyo was pulled in the 2nd inning after an injury delay. This could be it for Arroyo.

    • Tom Diesman

      Mesoraco threw to second to try to nail a runner on a delayed steal. The throw somehow managed to catch Arroyo on the cheek. He was taken out for precaution and actually went over to the complex and finished getting in his pitches for the day.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Thanks for the clarification Tom. Glad to hear that Arroyo’s career is still chugging along for the old guy.

      • vegastypo

        Mes made the throw from his knees, and Arroyo either didn’t know Mes was going to make the throw, or else he did but couldn’t duck low enough to get under the low trajectory of the throw….. They have said a few times that Arroyo won’t need to go into concussion protocol.

  18. Shchi Cossack

    I don’t want to get excited about spring training performances or small sample sizes, but a least a casual observation might be in order…

    Phillip Ervin broke out of the box like gangbusters to begin his professional career in 2013, then struggled with his hit tool for the next three seasons as he progressed from A-ball through AA-ball. He maintained a good ISO and on-base skills, but struggled with his average at the plate.

    This spring Ervin has started hitting again. Obviously his results in AAA this season will be much more telling to see if he has actually turned the corner, but I like what I’m seeing out of Ervin this spring. Man would it be nice to see Ervin force himself into the picture as a serious prospect again after three seasons of ‘meh’.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Dang stupid, prehistoric computer…posted the the wrong thread.

  19. Preach

    Well, it’s official: Scott Feldman, opening day starter.