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Playoff Pitching Possibilities: Starters

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Say that three times in a row…really fast.

Despite the Reds being in a funk these days, Cincy still holds a six game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Is it too early too look ahead at playoff pitchers? Nah. Got to plan ahead.

There are four tiers in which I group the pitchers: Definite, Probable, Possible and Doubtful

Definite:
Bronson Arroyo – Sure his ERA may be a bit gaudy (4.05), but Arroyo also leads the Reds in wins (15). Arroyo does have a bit of postseason experience from his days in Boston. One aspect that Arroyo brings to the table is his competitiveness. Even on outings where he does not possess his best stuff, Bronson finds a way to battle any hitter at any time. His grittiness and effectiveness in keeping hitters off-stride put Arroyo here.

Johnny Cueto – Ponder this for a moment. Cueto is currently 12-5 with a 3.35 ERA. The Reds bullpen has blown six saves in games in which Cueto has started. If you add those six to his current win tally, he could have 18 wins and his ERA could be a tad lower as well. If not for those blown opportunities, we could be hearing whispers of Cy Young accolades. Cueto has the stuff to be an ace. It’s evolving in the mental aspect where Cueto needs a little maturation.

Probable:
Travis Freakin’ Wood – He’s a rookie. He’s never thrown this many innings. Two knocks on Wood (no pun intended there), but Wood has, at times, shown a shade of influence from Bronson Arroyo. He can battle on nights where it’s apparent his best stuff is not within his game. No one can deny the mark this young lefty has left on the NL scene. The major plus, he is a lefty.

Possible (in no particular order):
Homer Bailey – Bailey had to leave his last outing due to a bout of dizziness. He gutted out a third inning as he most likely held in the back of his mind that he was auditioning for the postseason roster. The outing before that, Bailey appeared to have an issue of tightness in his upper back and neck area. He still hurled a strong effort. He pitched seven innings of one-run, five hit ball and received no decision in a Reds win. Bailey’s first two outings after a stint on the DL were also excellent. Consistency is all that’s lacking.

Edinson Volquez – Two things here. Consistency and control. If Volquez can master these, he’s one of the best pitchers in the bigs. He’s still only a year removed from Tommy John surgery. Despite being 0-1 in his last two outings, he’s pitched well enough to have garner wins. If the Edinson Volquez pre-Tommy John procedure appears, it’s a no-brainer for Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker to include Volquez as a starter.

Doubtful:
Mike Leake – Leake was activated from the DL on the 11th of this month, but he has yet to really throw a ball since being placed on the DL in August due to shoulder fatigue. He was activated primarily as a pinch runner and/or pinch hitter.

Aaron Harang – Laughing at that one, huh? I sort of chuckled myself, but if all others fall, Harang could be the one to pick up the pieces. I know postseason roster spots aren’t usually awarded as a “lifetime” gig, but Harang had been the horse of the staff on some pretty bad Reds teams. He does deserve a kick of tires…at least.

Update: Baker had a talk with Leake today. Leake will shut down for the remaider of the season, but Baker wants Leake to travel with the team.

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