After surprising everyone last October by naming Edinson Volquez his starter for Game One of the National League Division Series, Dusty Baker has done it again. Baker announced today that Volquez will be the starter on Opening Day in 2011.
Bronson Arroyo is slated to pitch game two, with Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey following. Draw your own conclusions. Certainly, there is no surefire, slam-dunk ace starting pitcher on the Reds roster*, but does anyone not named Dusty think that Volquez is the Reds best starter?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But Bronson is more of a long run guy,Ã¢â‚¬Â Baker said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You facing No. 1s Ã¢â‚¬â€ whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s BronsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ERA? 3.50? Ã¢â‚¬â€ that equals a lot of losses if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s facing No. 1s. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine with it. I talked to him about it. He feels thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the best spot for him in the rotation.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Obviously, the Reds are confident in Volquez.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re very confident in Volquez,Ã¢â‚¬Â Baker said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also who you think can handle it the best. Is Homer ready to be No. 1? Is Wood ready for No. 1? Is Leake ready for No. 1? Cueto just signed a 3-year contract and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (25) years old. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already got enough pressure to prove heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worth the money.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a process of elimination.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So there you go. Very interesting rationalizations by our intrepid manager. Make of that what you will.
Frankly, the Opening Day starter isn’t a very meaningful designation; it only puts Volquez in a class with Jimmy Haynes, after all. If it were up to me, I’d probably have Johnny Cueto or Bronson Arroyo making that start, but in the long run, who cares?
*Actually, that isn’t quite true. The Reds absolutely do have an ace starter. Unfortunately, they’d rather have him pitching out of the bullpen.
UPDATE: Our buddy Brian over at Chris Sabo’s Goggles doesn’t like this one bit…but then he looks at the Lidles and Remlingers and Hamiltons that have started previous Opening Days and calms down.
Over at Blog Red Machine, they’re fine with the decision.