Yesterday, we looked at how I did in predicting the performance of the Reds offense, now let’s take a look at how I did with the pitching:
Front of the Rotation
Predicted WAR: 3.5 (JC), 4.5 (ML)
Predicted Slash Line (ERA/IP/Kper9): 3.50/190/6.5 (JC), 3.20/210/8.8 (ML)
WAR Pace: 5.8 (JC), 2.1 (ML)
Slash Line Pace: 2.39/233/6.8 (JC), 4.13/202/8.4 (ML)
Comments: Okay, okay. Johnny Cueto, I’m a believer. Oh, I still think he’ll regress a bit with the ERA, but he has just been lights out all year. I’m not sure we’ll see a six WAR season from Johnny, but he’s going to make my prediction officially wrong very soon. As for Mat Latos, well, it hasn’t been as good as we wanted, but he has certainly come on lately, hasn’t he?
Interestingly, Latos and Cueto have almost identical xFIPs (xFIP normalizes home run rate) and there’s something to that. While pitchers do seem to have some control over their homer rate, that control is limited. Both Cueto and Latos are far enough away from the norm, that we should see some regression (expect Cueto to give up more homers and Latos to give up fewer). In any case, I’m very encouraged by the top of the Reds rotation.
Back of the Rotation
Predicted WAR: 5.5
WAR Pace: 6.8 (Leake – 2.7, Arroyo – 2.5, Bailey – 1.6)
Comments: I didn’t do individual slash lines because the bottom of the rotation is so often fraught with changes that it seemed an exercise in futility. Little did I know the Reds would get to the All-Star break using only five starters. Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t hope for anything better than that. In addition to being healthy, the bottom of the rotation has been very solid. Only Bailey has been below average in anyway (he’s a little ERA lucky and Leake is a little ERA unlucky for those seeing similar numbers with those two). I have continued to brag about my calling of Arroyo’s bounce back, but even I didn’t think he’d be this good. He isn’t walking anyone and he’s striking out more batters than he has since 2008.
All in all, we have to hope this continues. Mike Leake is the only starting pitcher not currently on pace to top 200 innings and he’s on pace for 191. If that keeps up, the Reds should have an excellent shot at the playoffs.
Predicted WAR: 5.5
WAR Pace: 5.2
Comments: Talk about being right for all the wrong reasons. I knew trying to predict a bullpen was a ridiculous task. relievers are notoriously inconsistent. I thought Aroldis Chapman would be a starter. I thought Sean Marshall would be almost as good as Chapman has been. I thought Logan Ondrusek would implode. And then there was the unexpected arrival of Alfredo Simon. Yeah, I was wrong about a lot. Of course, the upshot is, that it’s come together rather well, as I think you all know. I’m still very skeptical about Ondrusek and, to a lesser extent Jose Arredondo, but this is an excellent bullpen. One of the two or three best in baseball on a per innings basis.
I seem, miraculously, to have gotten the pitching very close to right. I hope that keeps up, because the Reds will be in great shape if everyone keeps pitching like this. I predicted the Reds to win 92 games. They are currently on pace to win 90. However, there is room for this team to get better (stick a fork in Rolen), if they stay healthy. I still feel pretty good about my prediction and I’m sticking with it. I think they’ll pass the Pirates soon enough and head on to the NL Central crown. I’ll see you after the World Series win for a wrap-up.