Even before the no-hitter, Homer Bailey was having a breakout season in 2012. Now entering his second year of arbitration, the Texas right-hander is due for a big pay increase – his salary projected to rise from $2.4 million to $5.1 million. Reds’GM Walt Jocketty has discussed the possibility of signing Bailey to a Cueto-like contract extension. In past weeks, he has been in linked in trade rumors with Dexter Fowler of the Rockies – an idea which Reds’ beat writer John Fay has downplayed as unlikely.

There’s a new article by Mike Podhorzer on Homer over at the Fangraphs suite. Podhorzer analyzes Homer’s 2012 season and asks what we can expect in the future from the Texas right-hander. The expected-ERA metrics from 2010 and 2011 showed that Homer had a sub-4.00 ERA in him. Homer’s xFIP was 3.74 in 2010 and 3.77 in 2011.

But, was (2012) really a genuine breakout, or was this just better (or more neutral) luck? Well, if you ask FIP, xFIP and SIERA, he has actually been nearly the same pitcher for the past three seasons. The only thing that has changed this season is that he allowed fewer hits on balls in play and he stranded a couple more base runners. Bailey is a great example of why these expected ERA metrics are so important to monitor. They all suggested that Bailey already had the skills to post an ERA below 4.00, and it was just a matter of better defense and fortune that would lead to its manifestation.

Podhorzer notes that Homer’s strike out rate was considerably higher the second half of 2012, which he attributes partly to Homer’s increased use of his slider relative to his fastball. The article also talks about Homer’s increased control.

Aside from the potential for a higher strikeout rate, Bailey’s control has been fantastic the last two seasons. In 2011, his F-Strike% was nicely above the league average, but this year it spiked even higher and actually ranked seventh among all starters in baseball. Once a power pitcher with spotty control, he has morphed into a pitcher with power that also possesses pinpoint command.

His conclusion:

Although he is coming off a breakout season, Bailey does seem to have a bit more upside left in him. He posted an 8.3 K/9 back in 2010 and he does appear to still have the ability to push his strikeout rate back toward 8.0 for a full season. Combine that strikeout ability with sterling control and a slight ground ball tilt, and I think Bailey has a strong chance of maintaining a sub-4.00 ERA.

What are your expectations for Homer Bailey in 2013?