2012 Starting Rotation Full of Uncertainty


Looking ahead to the 2012 Cincinnati Reds most fans can agree that at this point in time there are numerous questions surrounding the team’s starting rotation next season. Despite the fact there are plenty of candidates to fill the five spots, as of now I would only consider a select few as “locks”.

    Sure Things

Johnny Cueto. 2011 YTD Stats: 9-5 2.36 ERA. Since his first start of the 2011 season against the Cubs, Cueto has easily been the Reds best pitcher. Not only has Cueto been the Reds best pitcher, he has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Cueto leads the major leagues in ERA which is astonishing considering he didn’t pitch the whole first month of the season. One would have to think if Cueto started the season healthy and got a full amount of starts that all the other top pitchers have he would be a legitimate contender for the NL Cy Young. I would put him in my Top 5 potential candidates to win that award heading into 2012. All that being said, Johnny Cueto is surely to be the Reds Opening Day starter in 2012.

Mike “The Drip” Leake. 2011 YTD Stats: 11-9 4.00 ERA. The Drip is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the Reds to watch. After a sluggish start to the year which resulted in Leake being demoted to the bullpen, he has came back better than ever to finish the season as the Reds second best pitcher. Every time he takes the mound Leake manages to keep the Reds in the ball game no matter what type of stuff he has that night. Leake is a quality start machine and one has to believe he will be the 2nd or 3rd starter in next years rotation.

Bronson Arroyo. 2011 YTD Stats: 8-11 5.00 ERA. Usually a model of consistency, Bronson Arroyo has been a big disappointment this year for the Reds. Arroyo has given up 37 long balls so far this year which leads the majors. He is on pace to break Eric Milton‘s [shocking that he is the record holder for this] club record of 40 homers given up. Recently Bronson has showed signs of improvement, but he has to keep the ball in the park next year in order to maintain his spot in the rotation. Given the amount of money the Reds will pay him next year, I have to believe he will have a spot in the rotation.

    Other Candidates

Homer Bailey. 2011 YTD Stats: 7-7 4.57 ERA. Ever since the Reds drafted Homer Bailey back in 2004, fans have pegged him as the guy with the most potential on the staff. Here we are now 7 years down the road with Bailey piling up 74 starts in his career, and he has yet to show us that he is the “Ace” pitcher we all thought. Unlike the Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, Homer has struggled mightily to pitch consistently. Bailey will have a great start where he looks unhittable, then get rocked and only last a couple of innings the next start. If Bailey is ever going to become a great pitcher in the major leagues, he must learn to remain focused every game so he doesn’t run himself out of ball games. I like Bailey’s chances to secure a spot in the rotation, but he still needs to prove himself.

Dontrelle Willis. 2011 YTD Stats: 0-5 4.21 ERA. Willis’ stats surely don’t jump off the page but I think he brings more to the table than just what he does on the mound. Dontrelle has always been a fan favorite and a guy who brings energy to the table. Plus, the guy swings a great bat for a pitcher. He has failed to get a win so far in 11 starts with the big league club, but all the blame can’t be put on him for that stat. Willis has showed signs of being a very servicable end of the rotation type starter He is only signed this year so the Reds will have to make a decision if they plan on keeping him for next year. I hope we keep him.

Edinson Volquez. 2011 YTD Stats: 5-4 5.93 ERA. It was a surprise to many people before the season when Dusty Baker declared Volquez the guy to start Opening Day. His stats simply don’t tell the complete story because anyone who follows the Reds knows Edinson was awful this year. The fact he was sent down to AAA twice and has not been back with the big league ball club since July 5th shows just how bad Volquez has been. He is slated to get some starts in September, and I think how he does in those starts will mean a whole lot to the Reds. Luckily for Cincinnati, Volquez refused a pricey extension before this season and wanted to go out and prove himself. His future in the Reds organization is one with lots of intrigue and uncertainty.

Travis Wood. 2011 YTD Stats: 6-5 5.02 ERA. Travis Wood dazzled when he was first called up to the big leagues last season with his most memorable moment being taking a perfect game into the 9th against the Phillies. Many, including myself, thought Travis was going to be a great left handed pitcher for the Reds rotation. Since then he has not been anything special, and has spent a majority of 2011 pitching for the Louisville Bats. Wood is another guy I am a big fan of just like Leake, but Wood is still very young and unproven. Look for Wood to jump on an opportunity if the Reds decide not to retain Dontrelle Willis.

Aroldis Chapman. The Cuban Missile. The young phenom is a huge wild card when looking at potential members of next year’s rotation. The Reds have to decide what exactly they want to do with Chapman. When his control is on, he is nearly unhittable which is shown with his long hitless inning streaks out of the bullpen. Reds TV and radio announcer Jeff Brantley has went on record saying he doesn’t believe Aroldis is ready for the rotation. Another option the Reds will consider with Chapman will be putting him at closer since Francisco Cordero is probably gone. Honestly I don’t see Chapman in the rotation in 2012, but he will definitely receive consideration for a spot.

Many fans may be disappointed with the Reds performance this season, but we all have to realize this team was built for 2012 and on. Last year was great and all, but we won a few years early if you ask me. Next year is going to be a great year for Reds baseball, and it will all start with the rotation. Here is what I hope/think the rotation will be next year.

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mike Leake
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Dontrelle Willis
5. Homer Bailey

I really hope the team decides to keep Dontrelle. I think it is important that we have a lefty in the rotation just to give teams a different look than always throwing a righty out there. My 6th man would be Travis Wood. With all these possible options, what do you think the Reds rotation will look like next year?