Johnny Cueto
2012 Pitching Line: 217 IP, 170 K, 49 BB, 2.78 ERA
2013 Projection: 215 IPs, 180 K, 60 BB, 2.90 ERA

2012 WAR: 4.8
2013 Best Guess WAR: 4.5
Projected Difference: -0.3
2013 Ceiling: 7.0
2012 Floor: 2.0

Mat Latos
2012 Pitching Line: 209 IP, 64 BB, 189 K, 3.48
2013 Projection: 215 IP, 190 K, 65 BB, 3.20 ERA

2012 WAR: 3.1
2013 Best Guess WAR: 4.0
Projected Difference: +0.9
2013 Ceiling: 6.0
2013 Floor: 2.0

We have now entered the part of the program where I project pitchers. I hate projecting pitchers. They can get hurt at any time. They are often wildly inconsistent. It’s no fun. But I’ll do my best. Please do note that all projections (including the floor projections) assume no injuries.

There are few teams in baseball who have reason to feel as comfortable at the top of the rotation as the Cincinnati Reds. A few years ago, typing that sentence would have gotten thrown into the loony bin, but here we are.

One of the striking things about Cueto and Latos is how similar a lot their numbers could end up looking. Latos will strikeout a few more than Cueto and walk a few more, but there isn’t that big of a difference between them. So why the ERA discrepancy? There are a couple of reasons.

First, Cueto has shown a real ability to suppress home runs. At least, I’m going to assume it’s an ability until he proves me wrong. Additionally, Dave Cameron at FanGraphs has found that Cueto is very, very good at stopping the running game. It’s reached the point where he’s impossible to run on in such an extreme way that it decreases his run expectancy in way that doesn’t show up in projections. These little things are what keep Cueto a tick above Latos, but it really is just a tick.

I am very excited about Mat Latos. We all know about his rough start and enough people have pointed out the pitch-selection changes he made to make me think it shouldn’t factor into this year’s projections. Take out April and his ERA is 3.10. That’s fancy. If that’s what we can expect from Latos going forward, the Reds are in for a real treat.

Both of these pitchers are young. Both of them are good. If they stay healthy, both should keep being good for a while. There’s no reason to think they won’t be a big part of the Reds winning the central this year.

Redleg Nation Season Preview Schedule

Joey Votto – 2/27
Brandon Phillips – 3/1
Todd Frazier – 3/4
Zack Cozart – 3/6
Ryan Ludwick – 3/8
Shin-Soo Choo – 3/11
Jay Bruce – 3/13
Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco – 3/15
Bench – 3/18
Johnny Cueto & Mat Latos – 3/20
Aroldis Chapman & Mike Leake – 3/22
Homer Bailey & Bronson Arroyo – 3/25
Bullpen – 3/27
Updates & Preview Wrap-Up – 3/29