(Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)

The Reds Mysterious Pitcher X


Saw a couple of curious things in regards to the Chicago Cubs signing Edwin Jackson and the Pittsburgh Pirates signing Francisco Liriano.

First off, I am not a big fan of the Jackson signing by the Cubs. I know why it was done. They are trying to upgrade their starting pitching. I get it. They whiffed on Anibal Sanchez (more on that in a bit). Personally, I’ve never been a big EJax fan. Just me, I guess. I do lean toward the Bucs getting a pretty solid deal with Liriano. Not that bad of a sign.

The Cubs will give Jackson $52MM for four years. The Pirates will give (and will gladly do so) Liriano $14MM for only two years. We know of Liriano missing time in recovering from Tommy John surgery. Since his return, he hasn’t been the pre-TJ Liriano. No arguments there. At least, there shouldn’t be any. Well, let’s see here. In viewing career numbers…

Jackson: 70-71, 4.40 ERA, 1.438 WHIP, 4.26 FIP
Liriano: 53-54, 4.40 ERA, 1.354 WHIP, 3.75 FIP

On the surface here, Liriano appears to have an edge, but let’s throw in a third pitcher, the mysterious Pitcher X…

Pitcher X: 38-33, 4.50 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, 4.23 FIP

Wow, Pitcher X has numbers in three of four categories which are better than Jackson’s. Not bad in comparison to what Liriano has done either.

Let’s dig a little more, shall we? Here’s what each of the three have done in their careers as far as H/9, HR/9, BB/9, SO/9 and SO/BB ratio.

Jackson: 9.4, 1.0, 3.5, 6.9, 1.95
Liriano: 8.4, 0.9, 3.8, 9.1, 2.38
Pitcher X: 9.3, 1.1, 3.1, 7.1, 2.28

Again, Liriano leads the way in these categories, but this Pitcher X is better than Jackson in all but HR/9. There’s a reason for that as you will eventually see.

What about each in terms of tERA, SIERA, xFIP- and xFIP…

Jackson: 3.88, 3.75, 97, 3.79
Liriano: 3.93, 3.73, 87, 3.68
Pitcher X: 4.75, 4.18, 102, 4.15
Note: With xFIP- (the third stat listed), the lower, the better.

Once more, Liriano seems the better of this trio with Jackson having a better showing than our mystery guest. Even if you put a table with career slash against here…

Jackson: .271/.339/.427
Liriano: .247/.327/.383
Pitcher X: .268/.330/.420

…Liriano still looks like the better of the trio, but Pitcher X is better than Jackson in all three. Thing is, in terms of WAR (if you’re into that), Pitcher X has had a better season than Liriano each of the last two years and better than Jackson last season.

As I mentioned, Liriano isn’t the same pitcher he was before having his Tommy John. Here’s what his numbers look like since his return.

- 40-49, 4.75 ERA, 1.424 WHIP
- 8.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9, 8.7 SO/9, 2.11 SO/BB
- slash against: .255/.339/.395

If we compare these to the mystery pitcher, our mystery pitcher looks much better, doesn’t he? Jackson looks a little better as well.

By now you might be wondering who in the world is Pitcher X or you’ve phrased your question in a different way to include an expletive or two. Before I divulge such, I want to ask you, what if the Reds offered Pitcher X a deal that’s say, three years and $30MM, would you go for it? I just threw that idea out there because it’s kind of in the middle of the deals reached by Jackson and Liriano (based on length and average salary involved). Think about my question for a minute, then consider the following.

Pitcher X is up for arbitration and might make around $5MM for 2013. A three-year deal would cover Pitcher X’s final two years of arbitration along with his first year of free agency. Yes, I am close to revealing the identity of Pitcher X…but I must string you along a little more.

Does my proposition seems a bit like an overpay? It might be to some especially since Pitcher X is estimated to make around $5MM through the arbitration process, but let’s stick with this three-year, $30MM deal for a minute. Let’s act as if he was a free agent.

Pitcher X would make more within that same timeframe as Johnny Cueto. It’s true. Cueto is due $7.5MM for 2013 and $10MM for 2014. The Reds hold an option for Cueto’s 2015 season at the same rate of $10MM. If the Reds elect to pickup that option, Cueto would take in $27.5MM to the $30MM to Pitcher X. Kinda crazy.

Considering what the Cubs gave to Jackson, my proposition shouldn’t seem that bad. Looking at the post-TJ Liriano numbers, not all that bad either. The deal I proposed for Pitcher X might actually be a good one. Sign him, you say?

Oct 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Bailey pitches in the inning against the San Francisco Giants during game three of the 2012 NLDS at Great American Ball Park. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

Okay. In case you haven’t gone surfing by using the hints I supplied, Pitcher X is Homer Bailey. You now see why his HR/9 are higher than those of Jackson and even the post-TJ Liriano. Homer has pitched 60 of his 111 games at GABP, and Reds fans are all too familiar with Homer’s home/away splits.

But let’s think about all of this.

As John Fay mentioned a week ago today, the price of pitching has increased. His post was in regards to the contract Anibal Sanchez received from the Detroit Tigers (five years, $88MM). You have to wonder if the Reds might be forced to make a choice between Homer and Mat Latos. Fay also states the Sanchez deal could be a driving force as to why the Reds did not trade (or better worded, haven’t traded) the likes of Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino or Robert Stephenson.

So you’re probably wondering about how Sanchez stacks up against the three arms mentioned…

- 48-51, 3.75 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 3.79 FIP
- 8.8 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7.6 SO/9, 2.29 SO/BB
- 4.02 tERA, 4.08 SIERA, 98 xFIP-, 4.03 xFIP
- slash against: .256/.325/.389

In reference to Bailey, Sanchez has better numbers in every category except for W/L record and BB/9.

Bailey is coming off his best year. In his first three seasons, the Reds were an abysmal 14-23 in games in which Bailey appeared and that includes the ’08 Reds going 0-8 in Homer starts. Over his last three seasons, that record has taken a complete about face as the Reds own a 44-30 record from ’10-’12. Overall, the Reds are five games over .500 in Bailey starts (58-53).

Could offering Bailey a long-term deal along these lines be a knee-jerk reaction due to “one good season”? If not, then what would you offer to him?

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds Homer Bailey

  • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

    Nice article Steve.
    I really thought Liriano was going to be special when he first came up. Kinda reminded me of Santana (Johan). To your point, Bailey did have a very good year especially in view of his history. He is still young, that’s hard to believe, and if some of the middle-class type pitchers are getting rich, so should Homer.

    • http://blogredmachine.com/ Steve O’Red

      Thanks, Cliff.

      I had thought it might be about three years before the Reds payroll hit $100MM. It might be even closer now.