As soon as the final out was recorded in Homer Bailey‘s no-hitter, the chatter emerged. “Of course you have to start Bailey in either Game 1 or Game 2 in the NLDS” was quite a common refrain.
I say, of course you can’t do that now. If you rearrange the rotation for such, the whole staff, with possibly the exception of Johnny Cueto, would have to be re-worked in order for this to happen. Pitchers, like about every athlete under the sun, are creatures of habit and disrupting that habit can prove to be detrimental.
That is why the rotation will stays as is: Cueto, Arroyo, Latos, Bailey. With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Reds will send Cueto out today (who is also going for his 20th win), Bronson Arroyo for the Cards series opener in St. Louis, followed by Mat Latos and Homer Bailey for the season-ending game on Wednesday. With the Reds most likely facing the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, this series will start next Saturday in San Francisco.
If the Reds were able to claim the NL’s top seed, things might be a tad different if they wanted to move a part here or there. There is an xtra day for the top seed. Still, I don’t believe it is in the best interest of the Good Guys to make any moves within the starting rotation. Inserting Arroyo (who would be pitching in the most pitcher-friendly ball park in the NL) between Cueto and Latos had proven to be a pretty effective strategy. Insert the “junkballer” between your two hardest throwers on the starting staff will tend to disrupt the opposing bats.
Now you could question having Bailey immediately following Latos. Or should you? We could think the two are similar, but they are not as similar as we think.
Velocity-wise, they are pretty darn close, but not as close as far as pitch selection in concerned. When we think of Latos, we think of this 6-6 guy that will blaze a 95 by you at any time, but Latos actually uses his breaking stuff more (41%) than Bailey (38%). Homer goes after you more with his fastball as he exhibited in his no-hitter.
There is a reason for that. Opposing hitters whiff far more at Latos’ breaking pitches (especially his slider) than Bailey’s. Look at these whiff/swing % in comparing two off-speed pitches Latos and Bailey have in common.
Latos: slider = 40.10%, curve = 24.84%
Bailey: slider = 30.07%, curve = 23.70%
And when you consider the BAA for each…
Latos: slider = .178, curve = .176
Bailey: slider = .177, curve = .354
We could get into movement of their respective sliders and curves (they are vastly different), but we must also take how each uses their pitches.
Latos will use his slider as an “out” pitch more than Bailey can. Latos will toss that slider in any count because that pitch is just that darn effective. Bailey can use his slider as such, mostly when he is ahead of a lefty batter.
Review…Latos and Bailey are similar in velocity, but that’s about it. Pitch usage is different.
We can discuss home/away numbers all we want, and many have including our own Aaron Lehr, but I will say that as October lurks on the other side of midnight, that ball does not carry as much at GABP in October as it does in July and August. Sure, still easier to hit a home run at Great American in comparison to all the other parks involved in the NL playoffs.
Pitch statistics for this post taken from BrooksBaseball.net.