What do you think about this suggestion for 2018’s starting rotation?

1. Yu Darvish
2. Anthony DeSclafani
3. Luis Castillo
4. Homer Bailey
5. Brandon Finnegan/Tyler Mahle/Sal Romano

Would that rotation be enough to make the Reds competitive in 2018?

A couple of thoughts. Darvish’s name in that list is mostly just a stand-in for whatever starter the Reds go out and acquire in the off-season. Add in the name of whatever free agent pitcher you prefer (Dallas Keuchel?) or someone that the Reds might be able to acquire via trade. The point is that the acquisition of just one good starter can immediately make this rotation look a lot better.

Also, there are other names that could be added to the group competing for the #4 and #5 spots in the scenario above. Robert Stephenson has looked better lately. Cody Reed could return to being the pitcher we thought he was. Amir Garrett could get healthy. Rookie Davis is a legit option. Perhaps Michael Lorenzen will get a look, as suggested by Bryan Price recently.

So here’s what we need to happen:

–The Reds need to acquire a front line starter in the off-season.
–DeSclafani needs to be healthy all year long.
–Castillo just needs to continue to develop.
–The Reds need to find two good pitchers for the last two slots in the rotation, out of a group of nine pitchers listed above. Just two out of nine.

I dunno, none of that seems out of the question for next season. (Well, besides asking Disco to stay healthy. That may be too much to ask.) And I think a rotation that shapes up like this would be enough to make this club competitive.

(Wild card, perhaps?)

Just daydreamin’ on an off-day…

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 64 Comments

  1. We got ‘a blue’ Jay for that. Marcus Stroman.

  2. Would love to just talk about the offense next season.We are going to have an injury free pitching staff with bunch of guys that can start.We are due a break so why not next year.I think we will be just fine without signing a big name guy but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we do.

  3. Honestly, unless things drastically change in September, I would say Castillo/Romano/Stephenson/Mahle should be in the rotation next year. If one of of Bailey/Disco/Finnegan can get healthy, they would take the other spot. Rookie Davis has been pitching well recently, and I still have some hope for Reed and Garrett.

    My point? I’m not sure the Reds need another pitcher unless they want to package one of their young pitchers like Stephenson for a young, good pitcher like Marcus Stroman or Chris Archer. Darvish will be 32 next year, and frankly I’m not interested in signing a pitcher who might only be good for a few more seasons. Plus, I think the market for Darvish will be ridiculous given the hype around him.

    Failing that, I’m fine with the Reds sticking with what they have and seeing what happens. As far as I’m concerned, 2018 is the final year of sorting, and all the young guys need to play for the full season. That was what was supposed to happen this year, but for whatever reason (*cough cough* Bryan Price *cough cough*) it didn’t happen. We need to see if the young pitchers the Reds already have are better than almost anything that they could get on the market, once you take into account financials and/or trade chips that would be needed to bring in another pitcher. If the Reds don’t spend big money on a pitcher, that’s more money they can use to upgrade other positions and/or lock up some of the young core (looking at you, Eugenio).

    • I agree with this. Acquiring a front-line starter thrugh free-agency would be fine (not my money) but is unlikely to happen. Trading for one, I fear, would require enough chips to create a weakness from an area that is currently a strength. It presents a tough problem,since standing pat and hoping for full recovery from injuries and continued development of young pitchers is quite a gamble.

  4. Chad, I am glad you say Darvish is “mostly just a stand-in …”. I am definitely opposed to going after him. There is already considerable uncertainty with Bailey and DeSclafani in terms of injury. If you add Darvish, then 3/5 of the rotation are pitchers that have had major injuries and already missed a considerable playing time. Far too much risk.

  5. We have a month left in the 2017 season. That’s not a lot of time to base any definitive decisions on the 2018 pitching staff. Geez I wish the Reds had not waited until the final two months of the season to begin evaluating the young starters. All of those starts for Arroyo, Feldman and Adelman were simply wasted opportunities.

    I’m not sure the Reds should or will go after a front-line starter during the off season. If the right opportunity presents itself, then I’m all for the addition of a front-line starter. So many things have to line up for a significant aquisition like the Gio Gonzalez or Matt Latos deals that set up the Nats and Reds rotations.

    Right now, the Old Cossack is good simply going with Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Mahle and Stephenson and opening up the competition for anyone else to take a job away from one (or more) of those 5 starters. With only a month left, it doesn’t leave much time for those 5 starters to lock up a spot for 2018 though.

    Irrespective, the starting rotation is going to be the weak link again next season, but that does not preclude rthe team from being competitive. The starting pitching does not need to be a strength, just capable of holding its own while the bullpen and lineup anchor the team in 2018.

    • Good thoughts (Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Mahle and Stephenson). Adding Darvish would be asking for another starter on the DL. To be really be forward looking let’s just go with the 4 rookies and audition for the fifth starter next spring. With the maturing of the 4 and the search for the fifth. spring training and April will let us know where the Reds will be,

  6. I like the idea of trying to secure an anchor in the rotation for 2018. I still wonder what it would take to get Michael Fulmer from the Tigers. Free agent starting pitching is so risky. But so is banking on prospects. I would also be open to truly committing to sorting some of the young pitchers in the rotation for another year and if there isn’t enough there, taking a chance on the free agent market after the 2018 season when there are so many more options available, which would drive the price down on the contract. I’d like to have Drew Pomeranz out of free agents available after 2018.

    • We would certainly know more if we hadn’t wasted the first half of the season as Cossack said but going forward we will be much better next year from a starter standpoint,Barring a third year in a row with injuries which the odds say won’t happen we have some guys with experience in Disco,Homer and Finny and the young guys with some upside to lean on.All should be able to compete next year.

  7. Cueto…Cueto…Cueto…Cueto.

    • Right on…right on…right on…right on. How cool would it be to bring back that Johnny Cueto magic. Castillo could follow him in the rotation as his protégé.

    • I loved Cueto but there’s no way I want to see him back pitching for the Reds. The Reds handled Cueto perfectly. They signed him to a reasonable extention early in arbitration that guaranteed Cueto financial security and provided the Reds an affordable front-line starting pitcher, then when his contract extention was up, the Reds traded two months of Cueto’s contract for a prospect return. Then let the deep pocket teams deal with the long-term, high-dollar FA contracts for aging starting pitchers. Cuetos’s best days are in the rearview mirror.

    • Do not think he will opt out.
      If he does not, I am sure he will be too expensive.

  8. The Reds have 5 more weeks to figure this out. If Castillo, Romano, & Stephenson continue to mature & show progress this season, then you want to have rotation slots open for them next spring. If Bailey is healthy, then that’s 4 sp for next April. Finally, if DeSclafani can get back on the mound before the end of the season, then acquiring another ML starter is not cost effective. A good lefty reliever, catching help, & perhaps a cf who can hit lhp could help more than purchasing (or trading for ) a pitcher who would have to beat out DeSclafani, Castillo, Romano, Bailey , Mahle, & possibly Finnegan for an sp job.

  9. If the Reds are to acquire a pitcher they will do it in July, if at all. A league average rotation would have put us well in the hunt for a wild-card spot.

    A lot of “sorting” will have been done by July 14. That will give the front office two weeks to make a deal for a picture if they want to acquire one for the stretch run.

    I just reread what I wrote or, more accurately dictated, and I sound like I know what I’m talking about.

    I’m just guessing.

    • You offered no suggestions for which picture the Reds should seek to acquire. A Van Gogh? Not knowing where they’d hang it or what the current decor of that space is, I could offer no suggestions myself.

  10. Your list counts Bailey and Disco as holding down spots… I think those 2 and Finnegan may only start enough to count as one slot. My list:
    1.Free agent/trade acquisition
    2. Castillo
    3. Bailey/Disco/Finnegan
    4-5. Romano, Stephenson, Mahle, Reed, Garrett, Lorenzen, Davis

    Feeling like Bailey only on this list because of dollars…. I have very low confidence that he can be both healthy and effective. He’s been tough to watch this year. Haven’t seen Disco or Finnegan in ages. I might have to move these guys to #5.
    Can we have a free agent AND a trade?
    Pretty please?!

    • Yes. I think in order for this team to be competitve they need to get a pitcher via trade. And also get another via free agent signing. I am not talking huge money free agent pitcher. Maybe a free agent who is coming off a horrible year and willing to take a 1 year deal to try and raise his stock for a future multi year deal. Who that would be I have no clue.

  11. I don’t see the Reds having the money to outbid teams for a prized free agent pitcher. And I’m not sure I want to see them giving out a contract longer than three years to a pitcher anyway. … I wonder what such a pitcher would cost the team in players/prospects?

    • I think you can use the Latos deal as a guide. The Latos-trade equivalent would be something like Mahle (No. 3 prospect/Alonso), Trammell (No. 5/Grandal), Jose Iglesias (No. 12/Boxberger) and Adam Duvall (former AS MLer/Volquez) for Luis Severino (example purposes only, i.e. entering Age 24 season with team control). In my opinion, 2018 is premature to pull the trigger on a deal of this magnitude and deplete the farm system you spent 3 years building.

      Now, if Archer or Stroman can be had for Duvall or Schebler, one top prospect (not named Senzel or Castillo) and a lesser prospect…..now we are talking. I just don’t see the Rays or Jays agreeing to such a deal. I am in agreement with what has been said above, sign a mid-rotation free agent (think Andrew Cashner or Alex Cobb) to a 3-4 year deal and use 2018 to further evaluate the young arms before attempting to deal for another No.1/2 going into 2019.

  12. I am in agreement that the Reds need an established starter from another team. No need to spend the $20 to $30 million per year it’s going to take to get someone like Darvish to sign. I think they should offer Hamilton, and should target a pitcher who has an equal number of years of team contract control (two). In that case, both teams have the possibility that the player they acquire can grow and develop. I have not done the research to see what deal like that is out there, if any. Just thinking conceptually what would be attractive to both teams.

    • How about Dan Straily? 🙂 Or old friend J.C. Ramirez, now of the Angels? Dylan Bundy of the Orioles? I’m trying to be realistic about the kind of pitcher Hamilton would yield. If I was an opposing team, I would not give up a front of the rotation starter for Hamilton, who just can’t get on base.

      • I would do a Straily for Hamilton trade.

        • And Straily could track down those liners in center on the days he’s not starting. We aren’t the only ones who know that Billy is a weak hitter. It’s unlikley in the extreme that another team would give up a starting pitcher capable of holding down a rotation spot for him. Add enough prospects, and you might be able to work something out, but that sounds a lot like banking everything on next year, which would be a short-sighted duplication of the policy that brought the Reds to their current state. There’s enough to like, lately, in some of the young pitchers to make me feel okay with going into next year with them. Major injuries could change that, of course, but the pitcher you trade a bunch of prospects for could get injured as well.

  13. Looks like a few like me have no confidence in Bailey or Disco being very effective. Let the young pitchers be the rotation before they get old. And please get the Reds a manager and some coaches.

  14. I doubt the Reds trade Hamilton for an established starter. I am thinking Ervin or Winker. Which is opposite what they should do, but, this is the Reds we are talking about.

  15. It’s fine to daydream. At times, they come through.

    I said at the beginning of this season that it will be up to the starting pitching, that the starting pitching will determine how competitive we will be. Well, that stood true.

    Now, it’s all up to the front office. They have gone with the young studs for the last 2 seasons without much success. If they continue to stay with them, they are considering that they aren’t done rebuilding, even still having to take a couple more years. If they go out and get some strong veteran arms, they are looking to be competitive more “Now” than “Later”.

    I believe we need two strong “proven” starting arms. Now, if the young studs can step up and satisfy that, do as well as any “proven” pitcher out there, all the better.

    I’m not even including Homer in this equation. Sorry, I just don’t believe Homer has been much of a factor overall. I say plan without him. That way, if he does “show up”, we will be even in better shape.

    Actually, I say get rid of Homer. It’s a horrible contract that is killing us now. The Reds got into two horrible contracts with Homer and Devin. Homer never deserved that contract. And, we should have waited at least one more half season with Devin before extending him. I mean, what was it, $13 million we are on the hook for Devin next season?

    • Bailey (if healthy) will begin the 2018 season in the Reds rotation even in your wildest daydreams.

      • I never said Homer wouldn’t start in the Reds rotation. I just don’t believe Homer is going to be of any significance. You might think so, in your wildest daydreams.

        • In all fairness, you’re not a Homer Bailey fan. The Reds almost need to believe he can pitch effectively. They need that money on the field and effective. He doesn’t need to be a top of the rotation guy but he needs to give them 25-30 starts. All of us as fans need to hope for that because while it is very easy to release Bailey, the Reds would still be on the hook for his full salary. That money is spent rather we like it or not, so we hope he can provide something. I’ve seen flashes that suggest he could be an effective starting pitcher again. He just needs to be healthy to do it.

          I don’t think it’s ever a good plan to count on pitchers returning from injury. If the Reds can get 25-30 starts each out of 2 of Bailey, Disco, and Finnigan then that would be great. They can probably count on only one of them, realistically. They need to plan accordingly.

  16. It’s anyone guess and hard to be right with all of the injuries and guys competing. Here’s what I think right now, which will change tomorrow I’m sure:

    1. Disco
    2. Bailey
    3. Free Agent/ Trade Acquisition
    4. Castillo
    5. Romano/Mahle/Stephenson

    I fear Finnegan ends up in the bullpen, but if he’s healthy, they probably just hand him a spot. The next three are Lorenzen, Garrett, and Reed.

  17. Nick Ahmed suffered a broken wrist last night, Dbacks may want to do a last minute Cozart deal. Anthony Banda would look good in a Bats uniform. Jared Miller could help the Reds bullpen next year.

  18. I don’t expect much in the way of free agency. A big trade for Marcus Stroman or a solid #2-#3 is unlikely as well. What Dick Williams could possibly do, is to find a guy that could fill a role as a spot starter and reliever. The Cubs picked up Mike Montgomery last summer and didn’t have to give much. He lowered his era to 3.29 last night and has decent stuff….plus he’s a lefty! Add a guy like that, plus all the rookies from this year & Disco, Finnegan, and Lorenzen. That’s a middle of the road rotation atleast and gives them a chance to be competitive!

  19. I’m a believer.


  20. If the Reds decide to acquire a starting pitcher in the offseason let it not be, as in recent past seasons, one ‘whose best days are in the rearview mirror.’ I quote from a previous post by Shchi Cossack.

  21. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Reds package a young starter or two with Duvall or Suarez (please no!) to get a more established arm. I have no idea who that might be.

    • Please no x’s 10, Suarez is my favorite player next to Votto. They need to make an espn commercial with Votto on a computer attached to Suarez brain. Saying “you are a machine.” “Like Me.”

  22. Woah, had a dream last night that we traded Disco back to the Marlins. Woke up before I could catch the return though…

  23. So who do the Reds give up? As Tom mentioned earlier, I’m a big Hamilton fan, but at this point, I’m okay seeing what the offers would be for Billy.

    The Reds should look for another low-cost free agent signing, too. A full season of Dan Straily and Scott Feldman together in the same rotation sounds pretty good right now. There’s another “bargain” out there somewhere to plug in with a trade acquisition, Castillo, hopefully Ramono and one of Stephenson, Bailey, Disco and Mahle.

    It’s highly unlikely the whole group makes it through the entire season injury free, we’ll need them all.

  24. Looking over Luis Castillo’s stats for the year and his numbers are strikingly similar between the Reds and AA. Except for two areas, BB’s and HR’s, where he has a large increase with the Reds. Even Castillo hasn’t been immune from that.
    He had 80.1 IP’s in 14 games at AA and 77.1 in 13 games with the Reds. The AA/Reds numbers in BB’s is 13/31 and in HR’s it is 5/10. Everything else is pretty consistent. But, he has given up about 5 more runs with the Reds too, so that affects his ERA, FIP and xFIP numbers.
    Very promising so far.

    • That will give Castillo 157.2 IP’s this year. He had 131.2 at A+ and AA last year with the Marlins. It looks as if the Reds will give Castillo about 2 more starts of 6 IP’s each and that will give him a total of 170 IP’s (169.2) for this year. The Reds shut down Finnegan last September at 172 IP’s. That will give Castillo an increase of almost 40 IP’s over last season.
      When do they shut down Castillo? 170? 180??

  25. Someone on this board or another suggested what the Reds should be looking for is a good, young, controllable SS. I kind of agree. Keep Suarez at 3B. Package WInker/Gennett and either Stephenson-Garrett.

    If Senzel comes along like we hope, Peraza become a utility (INF/OF) player, Herrera maybe off the bench or he also becomes an INF utility player if his shoulder is good. If Senzel takes longer, Peraza/Herrera starts at 2B with the other and/or Blandino as a utility INF.

    Bring up Ervin to compete with BH. Keep the corners as they are.

    I have to think for Winker/Gennet and a young pitcher, we can get a good MLB SS with good OBP at least. With the power we already have at corner INF/OF, we now need guys who can get on base (plus Senzel is starting to show power).

    • Why does everyone want to deal Scooter? Slide Suarez back to SS, Senzel to 3B, and Scooter/Peraza can platoon 2B. I can also tell you that Schebler is going to hit the 440 ft bombs that Winker can’t, but he’s also never going to have a good K/BB ratio with that long swing of his. Winker is a guy that will work atbats and get on base at a good clip plus he’ll still hit 15+ HRs a year. They could keep Kivlehan and Ervin around to platoon if needed.

      • I agree, Indy, particularly about Winker (though Gennett certainly has his moments), who looks to be a very capable hitter with a little more pop than advertised. Log jams tend to break, so having too many good players doesn’t seem that dire a problem to me. I’m also not sure which good young shortstop the Reds could get for any rational package they could put together.

        • SS- Andrelton Simmons-LA Angels-28 years old.
          The Reds could overpay and it would not hurt their depth. Ervin or Winker, Jose Peraza, and Bob Steve.
          The Reds can move on from Cozart, they can move on from Peraza as the SS and Stephenson as a starter. With just one move. They would have the best defensive SS in the game with a fairly good bat. That really solidifies the middle INF in a way that Peraza cannot.
          And they still can go get a starting pitcher.
          A gold glove SS, Suarez a GG caliber 2B with a move out of Arrenado’s shadow at 3B, and a GG in CF in Hamilton. GG’s up the middle and sticks at every position.

          • Interesting thought. One question, though: You’d move Suarez instead of Senzel?

          • RE; Moving Suarez or Senzel…. Jason Linden pointed out in his recent Reading Between the Lines post that Reds organization folks are increasingly referring to Senzel’s ” athleticism” which he sees as a tipoff they are likely to move Senzel to a different position if push comes to shove.

          • I don’t know if Ervin/Winker, Peraza, Stephenson gets it done for Simmons. If it were me at the helm of the Angels, I see a solid but unspectacular MLBer in Winker, a utility IF in Peraza, and a huge “?” with upside in Stephenson, who may be a #2-#3 starter but also may never get it and may wash entirely. I’d want Winker, Duvall/Schebler, Mahle… That would be my ask. I’d fully expect another counter.

        • Jurickson Profar

  26. I think a trade for a pitcher is not necessarily the best thing this offseason (I’ve changed my mind), unless we are blown away by the offer. So I’m prepared to be satisfied with a rotation of:

    1. Castillo
    2. Hopefully at least on of Finnegan/Bailey/Desclafani
    3. Romano
    4. Stephenson
    5. Mahle

    This rotation will allow us to finish sorting the pitching prospects if a few fail then move them to the bullpen and pull from AAA, AA:

    1. Cody Reed
    2. Jackson Stephens
    3. Rookie Davis
    4. Amir Garrett
    5. Jose Lopez
    6. Jesus Reyes
    7. Jon Moscot

    I would only trade if someone makes us an offer that we feel really good about! certainly a trade should be on the forefront of the FO’s mind’s this offseason, but there is no rush I believe. Also, We need a #1-2 starter and not a #3-4 starter.

    • Castillo is as close to a #1 as we’re going to get! A 3.26 era would give him the 13th best era in mlb if he had enough innings! They can’t get an established 1 or 2….maybe a guy like Disco that could develop? I guess they could pull a Latos trade for a top guy, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  27. In my opinion because the Reds have so many other needs & Scooter has some trade value. I doubt Gennett could be the center piece in a trade that would yield the Reds the kind of sp that they really need. He could however possibly bring in return a decent to pretty good lefty reliever (plus a prospect), a good to very good back-up catcher , perhaps a young outfielder who can defend cf & hit lefties, or even a couple of good prospects (1 of which would be a top 50). The Reds can’t fill the holes they have & keep everybody w/o spending a lot of money (which isn’t happening.

  28. My opinion: the idea that the Reds can’t or won’t go get a frontline starter because of money is probably not accurate. Dick Williams has said specifically that at some point in the rebuild cycle, the Reds will take that money they’ve been pouring into other areas and distribute some of it back to the big league payroll.

    There’s good reason to believe that this winter will be the time to do that.

    Now, maybe they can’t acquire someone for a dozen different reasons. But I don’t think money is going to be the primary factor.

    • Williams side-stepped this question specifically the other day. He said ownership will need to decide to increase payroll.
      He also indicated to the Enquirer beat writers the Reds would be willing to trade established young players at positions of depth for a controllable young starting pitcher.
      While it wasn’t attributed to him, just stated by Zach Buchanan I believe , Eugenio Suarez was mentioned since they had depth at 3b with Senzel. That was not what I wanted to hear. Please don’t trade Winker or Suarez. They are my guys.

      • Yep, they actually are guys that can get on base and that’s what the Reds don’t have a ton of. If WInker is what it took to get the player I wanted then I’d reluctantly move him. Suarez on the other hand, while not untouchable, is someone that I’d only listen on, not offer up. Even at that, a return for Suarez would have to be sizable.

  29. If it doesn’t happen this winter, I am afraid the primary reason will be not wanting to give up prospects who haven’t accomplished anything yet for a pitcher who has actually accomplished some things at the major league level.
    The time is ripe. They have the money. They have the depth in prospects. They have the roster room. The just need somebody who will pull the trigger and not worry about 6 years down the road if X prospect has prospered.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


2018 Reds


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