First things first: I would like to thank Steve for allowing me to become a contributor to the blog, and hello to all our readers.
For years the Reds have struggled to find enough starting pitching to complement their hitting. For years they could not find enough starting pitching to complement an offense that featured Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. That is no longer the case. The Reds have eight starting pitchers who will vie for rotation spots next spring training.
Aaron Harang’s streak of consecutive opening day starts continued in 2010, but his season went the wrong direction after that and culminated in his permanent ouster from the rotation in August. Mike Leake, on the other hand, got the starting pitching some momentum early in the season along with Johnny Cueto.
Of course, Bronson Arroyo also pitched 200+ innings as he does every year and recorded 17 wins as one of the most underrated pitchers in the National League. It seemed that no matter who the Reds used to fill in, they stepped up. First Sam LeCure stepped in well and then Travis Wood and Matt Maloney did the same, and finally Edinson Volquez showed patches of brilliance after returning from Tommy John surgery.
Starting pitching depth was such a strength for the Reds, but the disparity between top end starters could not have been more apparent during the Phillies vs. Reds NLDS. The Reds were dominated and players like Gomes, Rolen, and even Votto never got in a rhythm.
The lack of a true ace has some Reds fans calling for Zach Greinke, but this season, Greinke followed up his Cy Young campaign with a losing record and ERA over 4. If the Reds are looking for an ace, they should remember the ace-like form that Edinson Volquez showed in 2008 before his elbow injury. They also have a Cuban lefty with a plus fastball and slider that they still would like to see join the starting rotation.
One of the most interesting aspects of this offseason for the Reds will be what Walt Jocketty does with all the trading chips he has. Leake, Wood, Bailey, and Maloney are all good trading chips along with Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco. Jocketty will have the pieces to make a trade and acquire an impact bat or arm if he wants. Even if he trades one or two of those starters the Reds will still have a large crop of starting pitchers to use.
The Reds will have a new opening day starter in 2011, and I see the starting rotation shaking out like this:
1. Bronson Arroyo
2. Edinson Volquez
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Homer Bailey
5. Mike Leake
I believe the Reds would like to have Wood, a lefty, in the rotation, but I believe Leake will come back strong and prove what made him so effective in the beginning of 2010. The pitching staff will be exciting to watch in 2011 and will no doubt be a major asset.