Based on an interview with Dusty Baker, John Fay reports today that the Reds are considering Mike Leake as the odd man out of the rotation at the start of the year.

Baker didn’t include Leake in the list of definite starters.

“We got (Johnny) Cueto, (Mat) Latos, Bronson (Arroyo),” he said

And Leake?

“I didn’t say Leake,” he said.

Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman are also in the rotation mix. The one who doesn’t start will likely be in the bullpen.

The Reds may feel that Leake is better suited for the bullpen than is Homer Bailey. Bailey has a reputation for taking a long time to warm up. One other possibility would be to send Leake to AAA as he, unlike Bailey, has options remaining.

Two days ago, Baker flatly denied any question that Leake would be in the rotation.

Leake is scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen today. Don’t read anything into that. Leake is firmly in the rotation.

“Why wouldn’t he be?” Baker said. “He’s had two good years. We feel he’s ready. He’s stretched out pretty good. This is more of tune-up. This is more of keeping-him-sharp thing.”

For what it’s worth, Leake has been mediocre in Goodyear. Over 14 innings, he has a 5.14 ERA and given up 20 hits and 3 walks while striking out six.

Yesterday, Fay speculated that the Reds might send Leake to AAA at the start of the season until they need a fifth starter on April 11. The team could carry 11 pitchers instead of 12, which would allow them to put off deciding between Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier for a few days. Under that scenario, the Reds would still have to choose between Aroldis Chapman and Homer Bailey for the rotation.

My ninth grade social science teacher had a saying that aptly described this situation: It’s as clear as mud.