How Many Pitchers?

So I’m doing my weekly checkup of the Yahoo! Sports team report on the Reds. Wouldn’t you know that they have the projected pitching staff already on the site. I say that with a surprised tone because we are only 10 games into the exhibition season.

Some of the choices surprised me a bit as well. Some didn’t. I’ll be honest there. Some that weren’t included threw me off even more. In other words, I’m kind of off kilter on their selections.

But we’ll go through this and attempt to make sense of it all.

The list of the projected starting rotation is as follows:

  1. Edinson Volquez
  2. Bronson Arroyo
  3. Johnny Cueto
  4. Homer Bailey
  5. Travis Wood

Now, the chatter has revolved around the last spot. Maybe even the last two. Bailey, Wood and Mike Leake are the three competing for those two spots. What we know is that Bailey has no options left at the Reds disposal. Both Wood and Leake do. It appears (almost) by default that Bailey is a lock.

That leaves Wood and Leake for the last spot. In a weird way, it may not be the #5 spot either. It could be for the #4. That’s for later on in the spring. Anyhow, Wood would seem to have the “advantage” merely based on the fact he’s a lefty. But Wood does have another card up his sleeve. He’s experienced more than one full season as a pitcher where as Leake’s first exposure to such was last year.

Sure we’d like for the Reds to take all six, but the numbers game catches up with you. If all six were to go, Leake, as has been speculated, could be deemed as the longer reliever. I’m not sure that’s a good strategy outside of having his bat on the bench though.

This projection is probably a frequent guess of how the Reds rotation will be once they break camp and head to Cincy.

The bullpen could be different. Yahoo! has the Reds taking seven guys for the bullpen.

  1. Francisco Cordero
  2. Aroldis Chapman
  3. Nick Masset
  4. Jose Arredondo
  5. Bill Bray
  6. Logan Ondrusek
  7. Jordan Smith

Interesting. I say that because There’s a name left off that I believe can contribute heavily to the Reds in 2011.

As I said in the preview of the pen, I feel like people have completely forgotten about Jared Burton. I feel he’s getting swept under the rug here. I’ll give you that his 4.0 IP this spring are most likely not enough to develop a final opinion, but look at Burton’s work for the majority of 2010 as well. He did everything but get that call during the season. Well, he did once the Bats we finished with the payoffs. And when he finally took the mound with a Reds uniform on, it was like being taken back in time about three years. Remember when people couldn’t hit this guy? Well, those day be returning.

And Burton has something to prove. When all these guys were getting called up last season, Burton was left in Louisville. He took a pay cut for this season to stay on board with the Reds, too. Yes, he has a little motivation.

One thing that struck me was that I didn’t recognize any name as being a long reliever. You got to have one. There’s two people you could consider for that role, too. Matt Maloney and Sam LeCure. Both have had excellent springs to date. Both have been pretty much unhittable. If the decision were to be made right now, you couldn’t go wrong based on their springs.

But LeCure has the slightest of advantages. He was a reliever last season. And in those relief appearances, LeCure was significantly better than in games he started. Look for yourself:

Sure, who doesn’t want to be a starter, but LeCure adapted to his “role” last season. With the perceived depth at starter, that may be the best route to make to club.

Now, if Leake is tabbed as the long reliever (which I won’t completely rule out at this point), then my arguments for LeCure almost seem moot.

OK. Say I take LeCure and Burton. Who’s left off, and, more importantly, why.

Arredondo is interesting. There has been some conversation on Twitter involving Arredondo and if he has any options available. I observed both that he did and he didn’t. I posed the question to Mark Sheldon (via Twitter) and Sheldon did confirm that Arredondo does have options remaining.

Getting work in at the Triple-A level may serve Arredondo better than making the big league club out of camp. I say that because of two reasons. First, it could bolster his confidence. He has had patches this spring (A lot of pitchers do. I realize that.) of pitching well and not so well. There would be less pressure to perform. Second, you have to make sure that his arm is good. You have to make sure the arm is sound. It’s been a little over a year since his Tommy John. You don’t want any hiccups. I realize I may be backpeddling a bit on Arredondo.

The other one could be Smith. I know Smith was a major contributor last season. And he was a darn good one, too. Don’t forget that when Smith was called up, he “skipped” Triple-A. Now, there is a chance for Smith’s confidence to fall due to not making the final roster. You do have the potential of that very thing happening.

You could ask “He (Smith) was good enough last season so why not now?” I’d go along with that except for one thing. The bullpen has a deeper pool from which to choose especially when you consider the likes of LeCure, Arredondo and Burton. And there’s also Dontrelle Willis, a veteran, that could help as well.

And one last thing…23 days until first pitch at GABP!