Harang out of Rotation?

There’s a distinct possibility that Aaron Harang could have seen his last start as a Red following yesterday’s short outing.

His first outing back from the DL was gutsy. No, he didn’t go the mandated 5 innings to get a win, but he did manage to at least put the Reds in a position to win the game. Yesterday? Aaron simply imploded by issuing three key walks in the bottom of the 3rd to prompt his exit as the Reds fell 10-5 to the Colorado Rockies.

Harang’s first walk broke the cardinal sin, walk the opposing pitcher. The second was to Dexter Fowler. What made this free pass so unforgivable was who was on-deck, Carlos Gonzalez. Is there anyone in the NL hotter than this guy right now? The last walk was issued to Todd Helton. Reds manager Dusty Baker had seen enough and removed Harang.

Before everybody states some obvious points such as the Reds were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and the bullpen didn’t exactly pitch well either, the starters needs to go more than 2.1 innings. And Baker acknowledges that point and the fact that the Reds will have to make a decision regarding Harang…quickly. From John Fay’s blog.

“Yeah, pretty soon,” Baker said. “We’ll discuss things and see. We can’t have these short outings. That puts pressure on my bullpen for the ensuing days after that.”

The Reds starting staff is a concrete one except for a fifth starter. Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Travis Freakin’ Wood and Homer Bailey seem to have the other four spots in the back pockets. The status of Edinson Volquez and his mechanical “issues” are the deciding factor for the Reds, not only for 2010, but going forward as well.

And this isn’t an issue just in Cincinnati. The national spotlight is on the Reds as they hold a 6 game lead in the NL Central. Here’s a quick and concise quote from a post by D.J. Short on Hardball Talk.

The Reds are still in very good shape in the NL Central, but they aren’t about to rest on their laurels.

That “one-liner” sums it up best. Actually, I would go so far as to say the Reds can ill afford to rest on their laurels.

And it’s strange/funny that I know Reds fans are thinking along these same lines. This whole issue crossed mine right after Harang was taken out of yesterday’s game. My second thought was “How’s Volquez doing in Dayton?” Volquez took the bump for Dayton on Monday. His line: 6 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 10 K. The walks may scare you, but Volquez has pretty much fought with his control most of this season. Sometimes, we may forget he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. It may come down to being the lesser of two evils.

Harang is in the last year of his contract and the Reds hold the option for 2011. The team can buyout that option for $2 million. If the Reds do not exercise that buyout, Harang will be owed $11 million for next season. Volquez will enter his first season of arbitration. Not too difficult to determine which path hols the least resistance. What could make the decision even easier is the progress of Volquez. If he’s conquered most of the problems, that in itself may be all the Reds need to see to make this move.

With a homestand coming after the Colorado series, I wouldn’t be surprised if Volquez got a start then. He at least deserves that shot.