How about this pitcher for the Reds 2012 starting rotation?

• 12-3 win-loss record

• 3.55 ERA

• Walk rate better than Justin Verlander and James Shields

• K/BB better than Tim Lincecum and Jon Lester

• Younger than Felix Hernandez and David Price

How can we acquire this pitcher?  The good news is, we already have (sort of).

If you take away four pitches, that’s Homer Bailey’s 2011 season.

It has often been mentioned how frustratingly close Homer has been to having an excellent season in 2011.  Really close.  He lost to Cleveland on May 21 on a 2-run HR to Travis Buck in the seventh inning.  On June 26, Homer gave up a 3-run HR to Derrek Lee.  Rickie Weeks hit a game-winning 3-run HR off Homer on July 7.  And a couple weeks ago, Shane Victorino hit a 2-run, eighth inning HR for the Phillies that beat Homer and the Reds.

Reverse those four outcomes and Homer’s record would go from 8-7 to 12-3 and his ERA would fall from 4.34 to 3.55.

I’m not saying Homer will ever become a #1 starter.  There’s no guarantee he’ll continue to progress as he has the past few seasons and even if he does keep improving, he could easily top out as a #2 or #3.  I’m not saying that Homer was unlucky or deserved a better fate in 2011.  He threw those four costly pitches.

But, it’s way too early to give up on him, as some have suggested.  Homer is already quite close to being really good.  Four pitches close.