A couple of things have happened lately that concern the Reds and who starts games on the mound. Homer Bailey has returned and Robert Stephenson has been lights-out in Louisville.

Also, Matt Harvey is on the way out. Yes, really. No, there is no good argument for keeping him. Given these things, it seemed a good time to poll the state of the Nation on who should start for the Reds next year. So, I took each of the likely candidates and asked simply, whether each should be in the rotation next year. Yes or No (except for Disco, but we’ll talk about that in a minute). Here is the Twitter Rotation for your 2019 Reds.

  1. Tyler Mahle
  2. Luis Castillo
  3. New Starting Pitcher
  4. Anthony DeSclafani
  5. Robert Stephenson
  6. Sal Romano
  7. Other
  8. Homer Bailey

The first thing that jumps out at me here is “Ouch, Homer Bailey.” He got a lower percentage than the question that asked about literally anyone else in the system.

I was also surprised at how well Disco did. I included an option that amounted to, “Yes, but he probably will get hurt, so he doesn’t really count” but “Yes” still won by a mile. I have an awfully hard time counting on him in the long-run.

But otherwise, I have a hard time disagreeing. I think the Reds needs to acquire one front-line starter to plug into the rotation. My personal opinion is that it should be (roughly): 1. New Guy, 2. Mahle, 3. Castillo, 4/5. Stephenson/Romano, Alternate: Disco. I definitely think it’s time to give Stephenson another shot and, if he performs well in the majors, he’ll move up the list fast. As things currently stand, I have him roughly equal to Romano because Romano is currently pitching well in the majors and has overall better numbers in the majors than Stephenson, even if his ceiling isn’t nearly as high. A couple of days ago, I was able to talk with Louisville Manage Dick Schofield about Stephenson and here’s what he had to say:

“Every time he goes out there, it’s a really good feeling that he’s going to get deep in the game, and he’s done that.”

On Stephenson’s changed approach, especially at the start of games:

“That first inning, it seemed like he was so amped up, he needed to go from fifth to second gear… there was no pace to it. It’s like taking a deep breath and saying ‘here we go’ instead of holding your breath and seeing how long you can pitch.”

On dealing with major league struggles:

“Sometimes, it’s really good guys to get knocked down a notch, regroup, and then figure it out.”

The hard part is Homer. I think, if he pitches like he did on Monday until the end of the season, everyone will want him in the rotation. If he returns to the Homer we’ve mostly seen since his return last season, fans will have a hard time accepting that he should be in the rotation given that his contract will be over after 2019. With a team on the cusp of contention, it can be necessary to make hard decisions. I suppose, as the year finishes up, we’ll see how hard Homer makes it for the Reds.

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! 36 Comments

  1. I want to see who finishes strong. The goal for four of our SPs is to finish with double-digit wins and an ERA under 4.00. Here are the current standings:

    Mahle: 7 wins, 4.32
    Romano: 6 wins, 5.07
    Castillo: 5 wins, 5.30
    Disco: 4 wins, 5.40

    It will be tougher for Disco to hit double-digit wins, but easier for him to lower his ERA because he has fewer innings pitched. Let’s see who rises to the challenge and who fades in the stretch.

  2. I made a prediction at the start of the year that Homer would be much better. I was wrong. But what I saw was good velocity, good stamina. Homer could be done and his last start was anomalous. Or he could be 3-4 months behind Harvey – getting his feel back on offfsoeed and fastball location.

  3. The continued problem for the Reds is they’ve re-built via quantity rather than quality. 6 pitchers were named above, and none are better (as of today) than a 3rd starter.

  4. My list would be on stuff & future ceiling more then 2018 results:

    1. Lorenzen
    2. Castillo
    3. Mahle
    4. Disco
    5. BobSteve
    6. Homer
    7. Romano

    They need a lefty badly but who knows w/Garrett? Max Fried from the Braves would be on my wish list but might be untouchable?

    Oakland rallied again last night with a 2 out Eugenio style game winning blast in the 9th. Harvey, Bob Steve, and Billy….there you go! If they have the right pieces coming back? That’s always the issue.

    • Indy I am confused as to why you are so high on Lorenzen. I never thought his ceiling was higher than Castillo or Bob Steve and really to this point its hard to say Mahle either. What makes you so high on Lorenzen? I’m not saying don’t give him a shot I’m just surprised at his ranking above. Or anyone else can answer that. I honestly just don’t know how we can still believe that he is that high on the list.

      • Because he’s athletic and can hit. He also has big biceps.

        People like that.

        • 34 innings….NO HRS. That has more to do with it. They keep rolling out flyball pitchers year.after.year.after.year.

          and we see how it works out. Try something new….and yes…..give up 3 runs and driving in makes a pretty good pitcher!

          • He could give up 2-3 runs and drive in 1-2…or score from 1st on a double. That equals a pretty good outing!

          • The thing we don’t know about Lorenzen or Garrett, for that matter, is how pitching 6 or 7 innings would affect the quality of their pitches, since max effort would be unsustainable for more than a couple of innings. Only one way to find out, though.

        • He’s actually too big imo, but the desire and the work ethic is important! Now I don’t know how hard Billy works at improving, but he weighs 150 lbs year after year after year? That tells me he’s not working that hard? Whitfield on KC was sitting in the minors around 27 and knew he had to act fast. He started working out like a fiend and eating a lot of eggs/protein. Now he’s worked himself into a pretty decent player! Look at Suarez with us!

          Lorenzen is a worker and he has a live arm with movement. He needs a chance!

  5. The only locks right now, always assuming they stay healthy, are Mahle and Castillo. If DeSclafani stays healthy it’s hard to see him without a slot, but that’s a big if. I will be very surprised, though pleasantly so, if Bailey pitches well enough to justify a slot, and less surprised if he doesn’t but gets one anyway. I don’t trust the front office on that call. I have a funny feeling Robert Stephenson will get his chance this year, and will make enough of it to finally join the rotation for good next year. I think Romano needs to learn a third pitch, either in AAA or the offseason, to have a real chance at long term success. But that still leaves at least three guys – Lorenzen, Garrett, and Reed – on the outside looking in with plenty of potential (perhaps debatable with Reed) but no opportunity. So I think the rotation will be:

    Mahle / Castillo / Stephenson / Bailey / Romano

    But I WISH it could be:

    Mahle / Castillo / Stephenson / Amazing new guy / Best performer after a serious audition from Lorenzen / Garrett / Reed / Romano / Bailey

    with Tony Castillan and Hunter Greene working their way up to displace the worst performers from those top 5.

    • So are you not including Disco in the rotation IF hes healthy?

      • Right… I’m feeling way out of step with the poll takers… I like Disco and what he can bring. I put him #2, based on the current makeup, but I understand he’s probably more of a 3. If he’s your #4, you’ve really got something cooking.

        • I think Disco is the second best and arguably the best pitcher on this team. People forget how good his 2016 was. A 3.2 ERA and 3.5 SO/W is pretty solid.

          I think he gets a little bit of a break this year considering he didn’t pitch all of 2017 and missed some of this year.

          He’s going to be in the rotation next year. He just needs to stay healthy.

      • Jeff – I would expect him to be one of the top 5 if he’s healthy – could have included him on the “earn it by performance” list. And of course I do hope he’s healthy. But it’s so early with him. I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Again, given health, I have hard time not seeing Disco as the defacto #2.

    I’d like: Free Agent/Trade
    Disco
    Castillo
    Mahle
    Romano/Stephenson winner

  7. Very little chatter about the Reds right now on potential trades. Maybe they are hoping a team that is still looking for bullpen help will get desperate near the deadline and give up a haul for Iglesias or Hughes? Really hoping they can work out deals for Harvey, Scooter, and one of Duvall/Hamilton, so some of the young guys can get some solid playing time. I’m fine with lottery ticket type prospects for all of those guys. Or even a SP with mid-back of the rotation potential.

    • Honestly, with this front-office. I’d be shocked if it isn’t just Harvey moved at the deadline. No trades at all wouldn’t really surprise me that much but a move of any among: Scooter, Duvall, Hamilton, Hughes, Iglesias, Hernandez would be a shocker.

  8. This one is hard to take.
    With Jesse Winker to the DL for the rest of the year, hopefully Schebler is back sometime this weekend.

  9. Winker to have shoulder surgery per Ctrent

    • Jeez….that’s horrible. I’d stick Herrera out in LF in gabp atleast.

      • Mason Williams to join Reds.

      • No reason not to give others a chance.Guys who have been said to be 2 or 3 years away should be in the mix as well.Why not?If you can hit big league pitching then why not.Keep in mind we have a guy in Billy that can’t hit and is obviously over matched at times and if these guys are that as well then OK but how do you know unless you try them out.I hate it for Winker but it should be treated as a great opportunity to look at others.Be creative let Ervin and Herrera and Indy or me or Jason give it a shot out there.

  10. Yep, Winker is done for the year. Hopefully this isn’t another Austin Kearns situation where he never fully recovers.

  11. First Senzel, now Winker. Done for the season.

    Geez, that’s some rotten luck.

    • Especially with how it happened for Winker. He was just trying to dive out of the way of a liner and landed funny.

  12. In the last week the Reds have lost Blandino, Stephens, & now Winker.

  13. Throwing or nonthrowing shoulder?

  14. Terrible news. Permission to lift the ban on swearing?

  15. Castillo, Mahle and perhaps Stephenson. This team desperately needs to find some starting pitching. I’d love to see them work out a multi player deal with Atlanta for some of their starting studs.

  16. Why is it that the perennial good teams go out and fill roster needs, whether in mid-season or during the offseason, but the Cincinnati Reds (my team) sits on their fanny does nothing and proclaims they’re being patient (Nick Krall)?

  17. Matt Harvey is scheduled to start Saturday night’s game vs. Philly at 7:10pm. It would be very risky to roll him out as the starter for this game if they plan on trading him. Risky indeed, with the rash of injuries lately.
    Then again, maybe they need to start him to generate a little more interest after Harvey’s last start and to show those interested it was just a blip. Tough spot.
    Robert Stephenson’s next start is lined up for Sunday in Louisville. They line up close enough for Stephenson to slot into Harvey’s spot. It would be nice to see Castillo and Stephenson back-to-back in the rotation in August and September.

    • In that event, they would start Castillo Saturday night on his normal 4-days rest, and then Stephenson on Sunday, also on 4-days rest. But I expect to see Harvey on Saturday night, and predict he will go to the Mariners.

  18. Surprised BC hasn’t signed Chris Tillman already. Wouldn’t be surprised if their big free agent signing over the winter is big Sexy Bartolo Colon.

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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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