First off, let me apologize for the lack of updating. The holidays have been busy for me and I’m just glad to have an opportunity to write this final portion of the roster breakdown. Also, let me wish everyone a happy new year and I hope everyone has a safe and fun New Year’s Eve.
Anyways, on with the breakdown.
This is going to be one long post. I’m gonna start with the starters and then move on to the bullpen and go from there.
*All the numbers I use are just there as placeholders. I have no idea what the starting rotation is going to be, but I’m just going with what I expect it to be.*
Also, these are all based off Dusty going with 13 position players and 12 pitchers. I’ll do the five starters, 6 in the ‘pen, and the closer role.
I. The Starting Rotation
The biggest thing everyone mentions about the Reds starters is that we had no true ace. No one really had shutdown stuff to begin last season, and yet, we still made the playoffs. This team showed that you don’t need one dominant starter when every single one of them is pulling their weight.
1. Bronson Arroyo – Last season, Arroyo was offered to pitch Opening Day and he deferred it to Aaron Harang. With Harang being a Padre in 2011, I think everyone will see Arroyo and his high leg kick on the mound, come Opening Day. Since 2005, Arroyo has pitched 1,292 and 2/3 innings. He has been one of the most durable and consistent pitchers in Major League Baseball in his last season as a Red Sox and in all of his seasons in Cincinnati. In 2010, Arroyo posted a career high in wins with 17 and even received some voting in the NL Cy Young race. His strikeouts continue to decrease every year, but he still manages to get outs. Sure, he has games where he just gets lit up, but he always seems to be in low run games. Oh yeah, and he can even swing the bat a little!
2. Johnny Cueto – Cueto had a great year last season and I don’t see why he will not continue to improve. Everyone talks about how Cueto and Homer Bailey are just going to constantly get better and I can’t wait to see the two of them reach their full potential. Every single on of Cueto’s stats for 2010, except for hits and strikeouts, were career lows for him. When I say career lows, I mean that they were all exceptionally better than his previous two years. Cueto is still young and will only be 25 by the time that Opening Day rolls around. He has a live arm and continues to show improvement in all of his pitches and has found a way to cut down on all of his walks. He seems to get on a miniature roll of sorts and I just hope he can continue to do that in the years to come. Also, would it really surprise anyone to see this kid win 20 games? I could see it happening and happening soon. The only thing that makes me nervous about Johnny is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve on the mound. If he can keep all those in check, he’ll be solid for years to come.
3. Edinson Volquez – Remember 2008? When the Reds traded away future MVP winner and All Star center fielder Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for two pitchers? Volquez was one of the two of those guys in that deal, with the other being Daniel Ray Herrera. The only reason this deal was even struck was because the Redlegs were desperate for pitching and saw Volquez to be a decent starter. What Volquez did in 2008 was mind-blowing for all fans. He came in and looked like the ace the Reds needed. Injuries hampered him in ’09 and he was required to get Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm and missed all the way until after the All Star Break in 2010. #36 showed flashes of his brilliance in his 12 starts last season, but never returned to form 100%. There is no reason to think that he can’t find that greatness he mustered two years ago and show it again. Volquez has a good fastball and a great changeup and the curveball he started throwing is coming in to its own as well. He’ll be able to strengthen his arm more for the upcoming year and could really be the ace of this staff for many years. For his sake, I hope the injuries are behind him and he’s ready to go come March and April.
4. Travis Wood – Easy enough. The Reds need a lefty starter to help balance the rotation. Now, I know some people will see this and go, “Why not Chapman?” Dusty and Jocketty have both hinted that Aroldis will probably start 2011 in the bullpen, unless they see something else happen. The thing I really like about Wood, besides the fact we share a birthday, is that he showed no fear out on the mound in his rookie campaign. His win-loss numbers could be better, but those really are not the biggest concern for pitchers these days. His strikeouts were good for only pitching 17 games and his batting average against was great too. He held batters to a .222 average which is fantastic for a rookie lefty. The other options are Bailey and Leake, but I feel that Wood is definitely going to have a spot in the rotation for 2011. Should something happen in the spring where he seems more suited for the ‘pen, then expect Bailey or Leake to easily fill his spot.
5. Mike Leake – This one was kind of tough to figure out. Yeah, Leake got lit up when he pitched out of the bullpen, but he was great as a starter. Homer Bailey could have easily filled this spot, and he very well may, but I think Leake will get it. A kid who completely skipped the minors to pitch in the bigs will probably not start the year in Louisville, unless Bailey blows him out of the water in the spring and everyone vying for a bullpen spot looks better than he does. I’ve seen Leake be compared to Arroyo and I completely agree with that statement. He’s real good at using different arm slots and fooling batters and he’s always going to be the kind of contact pitcher that Arroyo is. I know Leake’s innings were being watched so expect those to go up a little more next season, but still expect to see a higher innings cap on him. Walks also seemed to be a bit of an issue at times, but they were not overwhelming. For a rookie season, he didn’t look too bad. Mark my words, this kid is gonna hit a home run sometime in the near future as well.
I am aware there are more guys than I am listing for this section, these are just the guys I see most likely making the team.
1. Homer Bailey – I know it’s a big risk for me to say that Bailey, a guy who’s started all 56 games he’s played in the regular season, to say he’ll be in the bullpen in 2011. He was always a touted prospect for us and people just said he couldn’t seem to put it all together. In 2009, he showed great stuff and looked like he had finally figured it all out. Shoulder fatigue last season slowed him down and he didn’t look as good as he could of, minus the complete game shutout against the Pirates. He could easily slot into the long-relief and spot-starter role and it may take some of the pressure off of him, as well. I would be happy to just see Homer have a good, injury-free year and maybe the bullpen is the answer for his future. Only time will tell.
2. Logan Ondrusek – The 6’8″ product of McLennan Community College was a nice and welcome surprise for the Cincinnati Reds. He got off to a rough start and was sent down to AAA, but when he returned, he looked like a different pitcher. In 60 games, Logan posted a 5-0 record to go along with a 3.68 ERA. If he could cut down on the walks and increase the strikeouts, he could be a good set-up man in his career or could have the potential of being a closer somewhere.
3. Jose Arredondo – Most people reading that name may have to take a double-take and ask themselves “Who?” Arredondo was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels and missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. In 2008, out of the ‘pen, he posted a 10-2 record with a 1.62 ERA and a .190 BAA. This kid was lights out as a rookie, b
ut had some struggles in ’09. He only went 2-3 two years ago with an earned run average of 6.00. Jose has just as good a shot as anyone to make the team, but look for him to have a strong spring in order to earn his spot. If he continues to show signs of his struggle from ’09, he may get optioned and see someone else take his spot.
4. Nick Masset – Like our closer, people were calling for his head early on last season. Nick’s season was not as strong as 2009, but he rode out a rough patch and posted solid numbers, yet again. If he can start off strong, he’ll have a year just like he did in 2008, if he comes out slow, we all know he has the ability to to bounce back from it.
*Honorable Mentions: Sam LeCure, Carlos Fisher, and Jordan Smith.*
1. Aroldis Chapman – Watching clips of his MLB debut still gives me chills and I know those chills are going to run down my spine in 2011, as well. In 13 and 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out 19 batters. His fastball reached 105 MPH and his slider made hitters look silly. We all anticipated his arrival and he lived up to it. I just hope we see him in a starting role eventually. Just because people have seen him, I still think Chapman is going to blow hitters away. No matter how many clips other teams watch and how they attempt to strategize, this kid is going to have a great year. With Arthur Rhodes now pitching in Texas, I think Chapman will be the primary left-handed set-up man.
2. Bill Bray – Ever since he returned in 2010, he looked okay. He has a great arm, but I’m not sure how well he’s going to continue as a Redleg. With Matt Maloney waiting in the wings, we may see not see Bray next year and could end up seeing Matt, instead. This one’s kind of a challenge for me because both could be viable options, but I just can’t decided between either of them.
*Honorable Mentions: Daniel Ray Herrera – His screwball is something that can’t be overlooked and he was decent last season, too. Dusty mainly used him as a situational lefty and he had tendencies to walk those batters instead of just get them out.
1. Francisco Cordero – Before anyone else exclaims that Coco’s gotta go, just remember that he saved 40 games last season. Sure, he blew eight of ’em, but that doesn’t mean he won’t bounce back next year. Except Coco to cut down on the walks and regain his old form again.
Whew. Sorry for the delay, folks. I hope everything is up to snuff and like always, comments are appreciated.
Happy New Year!