Key to 2015 Cincinnati Reds: Starting Rotation


A month or so and the 2015 Cincinnati Reds will begin to take shape as pitchers and catcher report. I’ve already provided a couple of keys to the Reds in 2015. You can catch those links after this post. Now here’s another key for the 2015 Reds: the starting rotation.

I know this one sounds like it’s elementary as a team’s starting rotation is always a key for a team’s success – or failure – over a season. But the Reds rotation got a slight makeover this offseason. Here’s what last year’s was hopefully to look like when the team left Goodyear and headed for the Queen City.

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Homer Bailey
4. Mike Leake
5. Alfredo Simon

Not a bad-looking rotation.

Granted this isn’t exactly what it looked like, but I have a feeling it was the rotation that was at least written in pencil. Latos started the season on the disabled list (knee) and Tony Cingrani would get the nod, bumping Bailey, Leake and Simon up a slot.

There were bumps along the way, but the 2014 rotation was one of the better ones in the National League. It posted the third-most wins (65) and quality starts (103). Reds starters also supplied their team with the most innings per start at 6.3. 2014 wasn’t a total wash, I guess.

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We know that Latos and Simon were dealt on the final day of the winter meetings. Latos was sent packing back “home” to the Miami Marlins and Simon was dispatched to the Motor City. We can talk until were blue in the face about what the returns were in those deals. Let’s move on from that and take a peek at what might be the rotation for the upcoming season.

With those two deals, the 2015 potential starting rotation now looks as such:

1. Cueto
2. Bailey
3. Leake
4. Cingrani
5. Anthony DeSclafani

Homer Bailey, first and foremost, must stay healthy. Bailey must also claim that #2 spot in the rotation. Many will say that he’s already paid like a #2, so now’s the time the Bailey should show his worth. With the insane dollars getting tossed at pitchers these days, not sure we can equate dollars and rotation slot though, but I think we all get the idea. Reds fans have longed for Bailey to be a major cog in the rotation. Although it might be a bit later than had desired, 2015 lines up that way for the Texan.

Mike Leake will have to bear the burden of being a mid-rotation guy even though some believe he’s a #4 or #5 guy. Yes, he did that last season when the rotation was without Latos and Bailey. He will now have to step up just a little more as he assumes that role on a everyday basis. He knows that going into 2015. It’s not like we don’t know what we’re going to get with Mike Leake. After the deals sent Latos and Simon elsewhere were made, I dug a little into what Leake brings to the table.

Tony Cingrani might actually be the one with the most to prove. Like Bailey, Cingrani must stay healthy. Some fans would also like to see the lefty be a little less dependent on his fastball. In 2013, Cingrani hurled his fastball on 81.5% of his pitches. Last season, that dropped to 74.3%. The continued development of his slider (12.5% in 2014) and changeup (13.1% in ’14) will tell if he’s capable of the role.

Anthony DeSclafani might be in the most precarious situation. As part of the deal that sent Latos to Miami, he will have to show he was worthy of being the key guy in the trade. Remember, the Reds gave up three 1st rounds draft picks (Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger) in order to acquire Latos. That’s some pressure he faces before even hitting the GABP mound.

From a quick-look perspective, one could easily assume the rotation will take a step back in 2015. There are unknowns (Cingrani, DeSclafani) and “role changes” (Bailey, Leake) to look at for 2015. But we see that name atop the rotation and wonder what effect it will have on the other four. Appeared to have a slight one in 2014 and with having a rookie penciled in at #5, it may take a little more in 2015.

Other posts for Key of 2015:
Outfield Offensive Production