Way back in 2012, the Reds had one of the best rotations in baseball with Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, and Mike Leake all making at least 30 starts. Those were the days. On the backs of those arms (what?), the Reds won 97 games and a division championship. Fast forward three years later, and the Reds rotation looks much different. Mike Leake will likely play for another team next year, leaving only Homer Bailey on the 2016 roster from that illustrious group, and Bailey may not return to full strength until 2017.

Cueto and Bailey are arguably the cream of that crop even if there is a clear separation between the talents of Cueto and Bailey. They have both become great pitchers. It’s easy to forget how far these two have come in their careers though. In fact, they both struggled for years as they adjusted to the big leagues, which is important to remember right now as we watch our current group of Redleg starters.

As a minor leaguer, Homer Bailey was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Baseball America listed him as the 5th best prospect in all of baseball before the 2007 season. Baseball Prospectus had this to say about the big Texan:

“Cocky and talented, Bailey`s the classic Texas amateur power pitcher. Consistently delivering heat in the mid-90s and touching 98 MPH, he also features a sledgehammer 12-to-6 curve and a solid change. Bailey was handled carefully in his first two years as a pro, and Krivsky followed suit last year, resisting the temptation to bring him up into the middle of a faltering stretch drive. Bailey will get a good look in camp. Bet on his making the rotation before the All-Star break.”

Bailey was as can’t miss as pitching prospects get. When he debuted in 2007, he was heralded as the savior of an organization that had long lacked effective starters. And then something happened to Bailey that happens to many talented, cocky young men: he was humbled. Bailey’s first five seasons looked like this:


But as we can see from his strikeout and xFIP numbers, Bailey was slowly learning how to pitch as the big league level. He didn’t improve as quickly as we all thought or hoped, but he began to flash his enormous potential in 2010 while striking out over 20% of batters and lowering his xFIP numbers. Then, Bailey took off.Bailey really struggled in his first three seasons. His elite fastball wasn’t enough to get hitters out at the highest level. And thus, he failed to meet the enormous expectations placed upon him. He also faced a number of injuries that kept him from pitching full seasons as he never pitch 150+ innings in any of his first five seasons


It took three to four years for one of the best pitching prospects in the game to figure it out and become an effective pitcher.  Bailey always had the stuff, but he needed time to harness it. His last start of 2012 was one of the greatest pitching performances I’ve ever seen. In game 3 of the NLDS, Bailey struck out ten Giants over seven innings and allowed one hit. The Reds should have won that day, and we know the pain involved in the rest of the story. But Bailey was lights out. As he was getting shelled in 2007 and 2008, Bailey didn’t look like someone who would eventually dominate in an important playoff game. But that’s exactly what Bailey developed into. In 2014, injuries slowed Bailey some, but his peripherals suggest a full season of work would have yielded similar results to 2012 and 2013.

Johnny Cueto didn’t come with as much fanfare as Bailey, but he similarly shot through the minors at a young age, pitching only 299.1 innings in the minors from 2006-2007. In 2008, the Reds put the 22 year old into their major league rotation.

After a sterling debut, Cueto struggled mightily in 2008 while pitching 174 innings. He had a 4.81 ERA and 4.31 xFIP. While he struck out over 20% of batters, he also posted what is still the highest walk rate (8.8%) of his career. Cueto had always succeeded in the minors, so this was new territory.

In 2009, Cueto pitched only marginally better. In 171.1 innings, Cueto had a 4.41 ERA and saw his strikeout rate dip to 17.8%. His xFIP was actually worse in 2009 (4.51) than the previous season. Then Cueto took a big step forward in 2010 and since 2011, he hasn’t posted an ERA above 2.82 while seeing his strikeout rate rise to 25.2% in 2014. Cueto’s 2014 is one of the greatest seasons by a Reds pitcher in the history of the franchise.

Cueto had one of the best four or five year stretches in Reds history, but he struggled for two seasons before figuring it out. Many thought he would never figure it out. But Cueto had stuff, and the Reds gave him time.

After the Cueto trade, the Reds current rotation consists of three rookies: Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, and Anthony Desclafani. They have a ridiculously talented group of starting pitching prospects playing at the high A level or higher. Here are some of those players:

  • Robert Stephenson
  • Jon Moscot (injured)
  • John Lamb
  • Brandon Finnegan
  • Cody Reed
  • Amir Garrett
  • Nick Travieso
  • Sal Romano

They are also retrying the whole Tony Cingrani starting thing. Stephenson is the class of the group and a potential ace according to prospect analysts.  But they all, including the three currently in the rotation, have the potential to pitch well as starters in the major leagues. Out of those 11 players, the Reds need at least four of them to become effective starters to pair with Bailey. With that much arm talent, I like the odds.

But, just as the last group of starters needed time to develop, this group will need it as well. We are already seeing the growing pains of Lorenzen, Iglesias, and Disco. We will likely see more of the same from others.

The timeline for pitchers to reach their potential is different for everyone. It took Bailey three or four seasons. Cueto two+ seasons. Jose Fernandez of the Marlins went from AA to dominate major league pitcher in the blink of an eye, but that’s certainly rare.

What Bailey, Cueto, and many of the Reds young pitchers have in common is good stuff. And that stuff is something to get excited about.

Keep in mind that Lorenzen was a centerfielder/closer in college and only started 34 games in the minor leagues before making his major league debut. He’s still learning to pitch, but he has the stuff, averaging over 94 MPH on his fastball and seemingly improving his off speed pitches each start.

Iglesias was a reliever in Cuba and had a lost season last year, but he also has excellent stuff that could translate into a number two or three starter. He continues to tease with dominate stretches.

Stephenson continues to dominate when he commands his pitches, striking out over 27% of batters in AA this season before earning a promotion to AAA. His stuff is considered the best of all of the Reds pitching prospects. He showed off a little in his last AAA start by striking out ten over eight scoreless innings.

And the list goes on. Lots and lots of arm talent. But they will need time to develop. The rookies who have pitched this year have gained valuable experience toward the next couple of seasons. We may even see one or two of them take a big leap forward next year, but we must be patient as they progress.

So when you see Lorenzen fall victim to Coors Field, or Stephenson walks four or five guys during one of his first starts in the big leagues, remember: that was Cueto and Bailey once. They had those struggles and eventually became important pieces in one of the best rotations in Reds history. With all of the talent the Reds are developing and acquiring, we should eventually see a rotation like that again. Let’s hope it’s sooner than later.

117 Responses

  1. ProspectCincy

    Looks like Mike Leake will remain a Red.

    Price just went to Toronto, Wood to LAD; it’s more likely now that everyone is set in their pitching. (Dodgers may take one more … get on the phone Walt!).

    • gaffer

      They will trade him, as the do not want to risk a tender.

      • ProspectCincy

        To whom?

        There’s nobody left to trade to for a starting pitcher.

      • redmountain

        The Giants-how easy to answer after the trade is final.

      • sultanofswaff

        The Cubs and Pirates both need help in their rotations. The Pirates in order to solidify their wild card place, the Cubs to claim the last wild card slot. You can also throw in the Yankees, Astros, and Angels.

        There are still landing places for Leake. He will be moved.

      • lwblogger2

        Agreed. Astros would probably really like another rental. Angels could use an arm. Yankees too. If the Reds wanted to trade him in the division, the Cubs would be a decent bet. The return may be marginal though.

      • doctor

        Some MLBN guys on show this week was thinking Giants still interested on Leake.

      • Ncmountie1

        It would be a BIG mistake to trade him within the division, bad enough the NL.

      • reaganspad

        I would not be opposed to a QO for Mike Leake for the 2016 season. no long term.

        He passes on the offer, get the draft pick

      • lwblogger2

        Pretty sure he’ll pass on a QO. That may be the Reds’ plans right now unless they see something they really like. They may have waited too long with Leake and the market got flooded. Looks like Gallardo may not go anywhere either.

      • MrRed

        I’m not so sure that he would pass on the QO. Leake has had a good recent stretch but I can’t believe he would fetch 15 million in next year’s FA market. He might be better served to take the QO and wait until ’16.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        To REAGANSPAD—Next to signing him for 4+ years–I agree with your scenario as being better than a trade.

      • lwblogger2

        MRRED, I think you’re going to be surprised what he’s going to sign for. If he’s healthy and doesn’t completely tank the next couple months, he stands to make really good guaranteed money. He may not get a AAV of $15-million but he’s going to get 4-5 years at over $12-million and perhaps up to $16-million or so AAV.

      • mrredlegz

        With any luck, they’ll make one last run at him for 3 and $45 or 4 and $48… We have a lot of talent in the pipes, but it sure would be nice to have a guy like Mike Leake AND Homer Bailey to mentor these younger arms. Dude is a workhorse and he just keeps getting better and better. Never be the ace type, but there is a lot of value in a pitcher like Mike Leake.

      • Jay King

        I have said why don’t the Reds make QO and even if Leake takes it, Which if I were him I would take it. It helps fill the gap a little better for next season’s rotation.

        I also would not be apposed to offering Leake a 3 or 4 year deal. Would 4 years 60 million or so do it???

    • Earl Nash

      I’m kinda thinking it’s just as possible Mike Leake might be someone the Reds extend. You got to have someone to pitch the innings and this guy does that job well.

  2. VaRedsFan

    I concur that we, the fans, need some patience, waiting for these guys to develope. It might be hard, because we have a decent core of offense, that is probably at least wild card level. So, the pitching is a little out of sync with the offense. I LOVE our corps of young pitchers. Very bullish.

  3. jay johnson

    I have posted a few times on this sight that Reds ownership has convinced the fans that they cant afford to pay certain players.They make the claim that “small market” has tied their hands in regards to signing high priced players,with certain exceptions.My point is that as a business they’re profits need not be realized on a year to year bases.The bulk of the profit comes when the team is sold and that profit is HUGE.
    I get a lot of rebuttal about this business philosophy.At one point I compared the small market city of St.Louis and was told that St.Louis had a larger market by such and such a %.This may be true but to what extent.
    Well today the Cardinals announced a new BILLION dollar TV contract.Assuming that the Reds are a smaller market and a smaller draw than the perennial winning Cards,we should still be able to reap a contract that would resemble this new contract.
    Lets say its 25% less.That would still give the ownership 750 million dollars.Does that still make it not affordable to resign our best players to contracts that other teams are paying them?
    We as fans of the Reds are being sold a line of bs.Ownership is totally greedy and as “good business people” trying to make huge profits both now and later.We the fans are the big losers from this greed.Watching Cueto,Leake and potentially Bruce and Chapman go elsewhere under the “we cant afford them disguise”is both untrue and unfair.
    The way to put a stop to this is difficult.Any ideas?

    • gaffer

      I would not say that this ownership has EVER not paid players. The main problem is overpaying them actually. Money is flexibility, and this team has too much money tied up in older players. You just can’t trade bad contracts or we would have already.

      Financially, what you propose is not how banks work, period.

    • VaRedsFan

      Yes, about the new TV deal. They haven’t signed one yet so how could they have the money to up their payroll? I think they are still under the old deal for at least another year.

      • jay johnson

        The Cards deal doesnt kick in until 2018 but yet its implied in the article that the “projected”new money will allow them to sign extensions and resign at least one high priced new player in the off season.Why cant the Reds have any vision into the future.That the dollars are going to come.
        I’m amazed that so many fans continue to debate the nearsightedness of the ownership.Fans continue over and over to sympathize with Bobs money grabbing baloney.Why cant we the fans get it.This isn’t a bank or a business that needs to make their $ on a day to day basis.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Because it’s reality. Whether BC has the dough or not. It is pointless to even debate it. Reds, at best, will maybe spend $150M on payroll and that isn’t much different than the Cards. Last time I looked more than the Cubs, Pirates and Brewers. Any discussions of acquiring talent, developing a roster, extending contracts, etc. have to take this into consideration. Or we can dream that Big Bob is going to spend +$175M. I like debates that reflect real circumstances.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        The Phillies signed Rose in 1978 using the money from pre-season ticket sales based on the fact that Rose was being added to their team. They bet that sales would go up based on his signing and they wound up getting more than enough to pay for his salary just from those ticket sales. The Reds have a top rated TV share right now and a new bigger contract coming up(2017)—a better product on the field NOW means even more revenue from that new contract. If you show the TV people a product that will draw ratings—they will pay–it means more for them as they sell to advertisers.

    • Christian Domis

      I agree. This ownership is starting to remind me of the Brown family…in it for the money. With Cueto and Byrd coming off the books, that frees up an extra 18 million. Would it kill them to use that money to lock up Frazier and Meserasco? Can you believe Byrd is making north of 8 million? That was money well spent. (and if Leake leaves, that is another 10 million, that would cover Puig’s contract and solve a huge hole in left field.)

    • redmountain

      For a long time, the Cardinals were one of the teams that people in the South watched and followed. They are not small market, they are middle market. The Reds also do not have the following the Cards have. Here in TN,, Cards and Braves are on local radio, the Reds come in from KY Depending on the length of the contract they might get 500 mill. No question that money will help, but the market for the Reds is not on par with the Dodgers, Yankees, etc..

  4. Moses

    Has Bailey really become a “great pitcher”? Cueto, yes, but I think that Bailey’s got a way to go until he reaches that point. If he were already, we’d be talking about his contract being a bargain, but I think the truth is that it’s now seen as a bit of a burden. Let’s hope he comes back strong from injury and can be the ace everyone once thought he could be! The talent is there, but he’s got to put it together for a full season or two.

    • Nick Carrington

      We can argue about semantics, but Bailey is at least a solid 2/3 who has the potential to have a number 1 type season at some point in his career if he comes back from injury well. He certainly isn’t on Cueto’s level if that’s what you mean. But he is good.

      • Coldheartedtruth

        Latos was a second ace for the Reds from 2012-2013.

        Bailey has been at best the third starter on the Reds and often was more a 4th or 5th starter. If Bailey is your #1 or #2 starter the team is in trouble.

        Have to hope at least two out of Stephenson, Iglesias, Disco, Lorenzen, or the Royal scoop gang will become better starters than Homer. Based on what I’ve seen pretty optimistic this will be the case.

      • Jay King

        I have to agree with this. I honestly felt from the moment the extension of Bailey was signed I was like.. aaaa… yuck. He is a good # 3, could be a decent #2 at best. I am hoping one of the rookies or someone in the next 2 years steps up a lot Maybe Stephanson to be our #1 Or Who knows maybe a miracle will happen and we will sign a free agent number 1 guy. (doubtful about a free agent)

        Bailey is just too inconsistent over a season. Yes he overall has improved each year, well of course not this year but I won’t count getting injured against him.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Nick, this is reasonable. Right now I see Homer as a low-end #2 or high end #3 but potential to climb. Maybe the time off will give Homer time to reflect on where his is at versus where he would like to be. What I think happened to JC is that he wasn’t satisfied and developed the Luis Tiant twist and since then he has been money. Point is, he changed something and to be an Ace, I think HB will likely have to do the same.

    • VaRedsFan

      Agree…he is more Leakish than he is Cuetoish. They both show flashes of brilliance as well as also rans.

    • ohiojimw

      Bailey pitched two no hitters within a season’s worth of games then came up lame. I think he was on the cusp of becoming a true 1. The surgery makes him a question mark till he demonstrates he is all the way back and can stay healthy; but that all the way could be as a legit #1 like Cueto has become.

      • Carl Sayre

        I have noticed in other pitchers that the first year back the velocity is down 3 or 4 MPH and more than a couple have learned to PITCH because the stuff wasn’ what it once was.I would love to see Bailey become more of a pitcher than just a hard thrower.

    • ManuelT

      Yes, I find it laughable that anyone would place Bailey in the same category as Cueto.

      • Jay King

        Yes I completely agree with that statement… Overall Cueto is one of the best pitchers the Reds have ever had.. Bailey will never get to that category even if he throws 2 more no hitters.. The Rest of the time he will be good at best. Which I am not upset about. He can be a good pitcher at times.

    • redmountain

      Maybe not “great”, but two no-nos make him really good.

  5. Redgoggles

    This is an excellent article, and timely as it brings to light the Reds chances next year without somehow retaining Leake and/or a FA signing. And, that doesn’t even address the bullpen odor.

    • Carl Sayre

      The amount of young pitching prospects the Reds have may address the bullpen. They may decide that the help is needed and bring up 1 or 2 of these quality young arms and try them out of the pen instead of leaving them down on the farm to become starters.

  6. sultanofswaff

    100% with you. The entirety of the 2015 season from here on out should be about getting these prospects time to work thru their growing pains…….and not a few spot starts in September, but rather a full lap around the league.

    I’m not convinced that we can’t compete next near, so I’d like to use this year to full advantage by seasoning the youngsters.

    One guy not on your list is starting for the Reds tonight—Holmberg. We’d be better served pitching Finnegan, tonight’s AAA starter.

    The Reds have to slot Stephenson into Leake’s spot in the rotation IMO.

    • Eric the Red

      This season is lost. 2016 doesn’t look too promising. How about we wait until early next year to bring Stephenson up? If he’s really got top of the rotation potential, an extra year of control is extremely valuable; I wouldn’t trade it for getting his feet wet in September.

      • Redgoggles

        I agree with this. We need to space out the rookies so that they don’t all become FAs together too. (Homer, Cueto, Latos, Simon, etc.)

      • Steve Mancuso

        A September call up would be really unlikely to cost a year of control. Service time is calculated by days. 172 days = 1 year. So if you call up a player in September, that adds 30 games to his service time, not a full year. It could affect when the Reds called up Stephenson in 2016 though. Most players get called up far enough into their first year of major league service that they can’t get to 172 games their first season, so the team ends up with most of seven seasons. Usually waiting until mid-April accomplishes that. Waiting a month or so more is necessary to avoid Super-2 status, which is about arbitration, not control. So if the Reds think they would call Stephenson up in early April or mid-May next year and that he’ll stick in the majors after that, then the September call up would complicate that plan by a month. But it doesn’t cost a year.

        There is a separate question of starting the option clock by putting a player on the 40-man roster, but usually good players don’t exhaust their three option years anyhow.

      • ohiojimw

        Just curious, do you have any idea where the 172 comes from as the base unit for a year or service?

      • Eric the Red

        I couldn’t have said it better myself, which I guess is why I failed to 🙂 So, to avoid Super-2–which is definitely the smart thing to do–we could call him up this September and then again in approximately mid June next season? Or, alternatively, don’t call him up in September and bring him up in mid May? Did I get that right?

        Bottom line for me: a few weeks in September and/or early next season is not worth increasing the cost of his arb years or shortening our control, etc.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Yes, you have that right.

        Regarding Super-2 status, the Reds may be planning on him starting with the team right out of spring training (or within a couple weeks) anyhow. Super-2 is about money, not years of control. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not everything.

        You have to weigh that against the benefits of having him start a half dozen games against major league teams in major league parks with major league coaching.

        Here’s another question – what about starting him now in Mike Leake’s slot, if Leake gets traded today or tomorrow?

    • lwblogger2

      I wouldn’t have Finnegan going for the big club tonight. He hasn’t hardly thrown any pitches or innings. He’d be lucky to give you 4 IP today. Holmberg may not give you more than that but you know going in that it is Finnegan’s ceiling considering how he’s not very stretched out as a starter.

      • ohiojimw

        I wondered why they didn’t hold Lamb for a day and use him. Probably tweedly dee dee and tweedle dee dum but it would have been interesting to see the new guy.

  7. reaganspad

    great article. Thanks for this.

    Homer and Johnny were both at one time misses as told by some.

    but talent and determination rise to the occasion.

    That said, Homer did want to do it his was for a long time. I think Stephenson has just finished going through that kind of phase.

    shoot Randy Johnson was traded. talented but they were not sure they could harness it

  8. Carl Sayre

    Great article my head agrees with every word now if I could convince my heart. I really like what I see in the 3 youngsters we have now. The “big” test IMO is the improvement from start to start or over a couple of months we should be able to see them improving and again IMO that is happening. There was a comment above that said that there isn’t anybody else buying so we won’t be able to trade Leake. I think that might be a little pessimistic as the season wears on injuries start to mount, a contending team may decide to get some insurance or maybe ML is an improvement over theor 3rd or 4th pitcher. It may be a little less likely when he has to clear waivers but there is another month of chances to trade. My question is if we don’t trade him and can’t extend him do we make a qualifying offer to get the compensation pick?

    • lwblogger2

      Yes, the Reds should make a QO to Leake if they can’t trade him. That is assuming he’s healthy…. As for trading Leake, time is literally running out. Tomorrow is the non-waiver deadline. After that, Leake would have to clear waivers for the Reds to be able to trade him. There is no way Leake clears waivers.

      • ohiojimw

        Without weighing the relative pros and cons, could it be that the Reds are making a belated effort to sign Leake and are willing to risk having to go the QO route to pursue it? Sometimes making up can be a lot fun on both sides 🙂

      • lwblogger2

        It’s certainly not out of the question. Honestly, the contracts to Votto, BP, and especially Bailey all were surprising to me.

      • Gonzo Reds

        That’s what I’m hoping for. Beyond that, hate to lose the enjoyment of seeing Chapman throw but he’s our best chip to get a quality OF which I think would cement our 2016 with Mes and Cozart returning, as long as we aren’t stupid and deal Bruce. Skipworth looks like he’s going to be who will replace Pena in the other catcher spot.

  9. User1022

    Ty Howington
    Bobby Basham
    Chris Gruler
    Ryan Mottl
    Dustin Moseley
    Ryan Wagner

    We had patience for this group of can’t-miss prospects too. Of them, only Wagner ever made it to MLB, and he did so as a reliever who flamed out after about 5 years.

    My point? I love the potential of this current crop of Reds minor league pitchers, but I’m skeptical. I always thought it was a minor miracle that Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey became as good as they did, and I think it’s asking too much to expect anyone in this current crop to duplicate that success.

    Could it happen? Yes, but I’m not expecting it. If we can get 2 or 3 serviceable starters out of this group and sign a few Bronson Arroyo/Mat Latos types, then the Reds would be doing ok. If even a single pitcher from this crop develops into a #2 or even a #1 type starter, I will again consider it a minor miracle.

    • reaganspad

      Get ready to believe user 1022. I would say that 1 maybe 2 of those names you listed would be in our top 25 prospects

    • lwblogger2

      Howington and Gruler fought injury after injury. Moseley, Mottl, and Basham were really not that fantastic of prospects. They were high on the Reds’ list but during a time when the Reds’ minor-league system wasn’t very good.

    • mtkal

      I don’t think that group compares very well at all to the group listed in the article.

  10. mtkal

    That list of talented pitchers in the Reds’ organization raises a question for some of you who know more about this sort of thing than I do.
    Do we have good pitching coaches in the organization to properly prepare these guys for MLB careers? It seems like having at the very least one really good coach, hopefully more than one, who can shepherd these guys up through the minors to give them the best chance to succeed.
    I’ve heard good things about Power and remember him as a player. Price was considered a good pitching coach if not the greatest manager.
    Do we have the right people in place to help get us back to a premium pitching rotation (and bullpen for that matter)?

  11. RedAlert

    Simply amazing how other clubs seem like they can trade players, acquire players , etc. – whatever they need to do – yet Jocketty can’t seem to match up with anybody – the game has passed him by and he can’t operate in the modern era of baseball ( dude doesn’t even use texting when dealing with other GMs – that’s just stunning )- there’s one thing about being old school , but that’s rediculous – guess he’s made his one deal for the year – back to the den to hibernate

    • User1022

      Still hoping the Mets get desperate and are willing to settle for Byrd.

    • Eric the Red

      Did you miss the Cueto trade, which practically everyone seems to love? Suarez for Simon? Disco for Latos?

      In past years, the Reds needed an impact outfield bat at the deadline. How many of those have moved so far this year?

      • RedAlert

        No ,I haven’t missed the Cueto trade – how could I – it’s the only peep he’s made – and I like the return -however , not gonna sit here and advocate that he’s done s great job the last 2 plus years – he’s been largely ineffective and has sat on his hands the majority of the time

      • RedAlert

        But also Castellini extended him for additional years – so yea, the owner’s had a big hand in it too – I do realize that

      • Carl Sayre

        I think that as well as Simon pitched in the first half last year the second showed that his career numbers were correct. Cozart’s glove has me spoiled and he was hitting in an acceptable range before his injury with all that being said Saurez has to in the line up. He cannot however be our SS going from a top 5 defensive SS to one who has a hole in his glove has been rough. His stick has made it passable. The SS position is one that concerns me Suarez can’t play major league SS or at least he shouldn’t IMO. Cozart was hitting better than he had in his career so not likely that was going to continue and the severity of the injury makes me question can he come close to his prowess before he was hurt?

  12. ohiojimw

    Rosenthal is tweeting that the mega deal with Miami/ Atlanta/ and LAD is done and players are being notified.. Be interesting to see how that changes things

  13. lwblogger2

    Whew! The Jays paid out the wazoo for Price. That was a lot to give up. Bet they didn’t make that offer for Cueto. I think the Reds would have taken it.

    • ohiojimw

      Price a lefty and known quantity versus AL hitters may have been major factors.

  14. Indy Red Man

    Can someone tell me how this works?

    From 2009-11 Bailey threw a total of 354 innings (118 avg.) and had era’s of 4.53, 4.46, and 4.43 but yet still had a WAR of +4.7? If your starter only gives you 118 innings then you’re forced to dig deeper into AAAA guys, etc. Was Homer still bouncing back and forth from Lville back then? I know offense had dropped significantly since 2011 but 4.43 wasn’t good then….even for a pitcher in GABP. Wins above replacement…..who was his replacement…Eric Milton?

    • Steve Mancuso

      I can’t get into this in depth right now, but the short answer is that FanGraphs doesn’t use ERA for WAR, they use fielding independent stats and Homer did much better on those. His 2010 season is a good example of that when he was 1.9 WAR by FanGraphs.

      • Indy Red Man

        Don’t get me wrong…I like Homer. It just seems like everyone on here thinks Lorenzen is so shaky and his #s (atleast until Colorado) were far better than Homer’s at 23 and Homer had a ton more experience. I know the split is harder to throw for some than others but I’d like to see Lorenzen develop the split like Homer did vs lefties.

    • lwblogger2

      I’m not a giant proponent of WAR but 4.7 over 3 years isn’t even MLB average. The average MLB player is worth 2 WAR a year. A starting pitcher is sometimes worth more than that as it’s my understanding that it’s for the position and not the role. A replacement player is basically a fictional AAA/AAAA player brought up to take a spot on the field. So, that fictional minor-league replacement is worth 1 WAR. So, during those 3 years, according to WAR, Bailey put up an average 1.57 WAR, which is somewhere between a replacement player from the minors (a Holmberg/Villareal type) and an average MLB starting pitcher.

      • lwblogger2

        I’ll add that his peripherals and rates used to calculate WAR were pretty strong and therefore he most certainly would have put up better WAR totals had he been throwing more MLB innings.

  15. sultanofswaff

    Boy, if you compare the stats of the guys we got from KC for Cueto to the guys the Tigers got for Price, the Reds received a LOT more IMO. 2 of the 3 going to the Tigers give up a fair number of hits and don’t strike out that many batters. Not so with our group.

    Great job Walt!

  16. Jeremy Conley

    Has anyone not been patient? I feel like this is a little bit of a strawman argument, because I don’t remember reading anyone saying that we should get rid of any of the pitchers listed in the article.

    The problem with our prospects right now is that while we have a lot of them, we don’t have a ton that have a very high ceiling. Stephenson does for sure. Then there’s Bailey who’s is a solid #2 or #3 when healthy, and that’s about the ceiling I see for Iglesias and Reed.

    After that it gets more dicey. Lorenzen may not have what it takes to start, and Desclafani looks like a back end guy, and Moscot projected as a #4 or #5 before he was injured. Lamb is a serious question mark because of his injury and could be a #2 or a #7. Finnegan has a good fastball but hasn’t really started professionally. Travieso has struggled and been injured a lot. Amir Garrett has barely pitched, etc.

    Maybe some of these guys figure it out, but right now I don’t see a top tier rotation in this mix unless a few of them over perform their projections.

    My guess at the 2017 rotation right now would be:


    • Gonzo Reds

      Reed won’t be ready that fast. Hoping we decide to keep Leake and he can take that spot. The others I agree with.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m pretty sure Reed with be ready in 2017. I think there’s a good chance he’s in the Reds’ rotation next year. He’s pitching at AAA right now.

      • RedAlert

        No -unless they moved him up he’s at AA – Finnegan and Lamb at AAA

      • lwblogger2

        That’s right… I actually got Reed and Lamb confused. My mistake.

      • RedAlert

        No problem – hope they are all contributing at major league level sooner than later 😊

      • Jeremy Conley

        I don’t see why he wouldn’t be ready. He’ll be ready to start the fastest of the 3 as he’s had two full seasons of starting in the minors last year and this year. He’ll probably start at AAA next year, and be ready the next.

    • Indy Red Man

      I don’t know? I trust Disco to get people out at 92 mph more than I do Homer. If Homer is hitting 95 again then you’re prob on point. I still love Lorenzen. He’s a great athlete….can really help himself w/the bat but he’s prob a little mentally/physically drained right now. He’s barely pitched in the minors and now he’s in a big league rotation for most of the year. I think he’ll do nothing but improve. I’m sticking with Hawk Harrelson who said he reminded him of Zach Greinke. Obv he prob won’t be that good but I think he can be better than Bailey has been so far.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I really like Lorenzen too, I just think he profiles as a reliever. Which is what he was in college. In the minors he could get people out as a starter using just his plus fastball, but that obviously doesn’t cut it in the bigs.

      • Indy Red Man

        Cueto and Homer had the same problem as a rookie. Most hard throwing rookies have to be shown rather then told how the big boys can turn around a fastball. If you throw out Colorado then Lorenzen’s era as a starter is 3.56. That’s pretty good. I don’t know why everyone is so high on Inglesias by comparison when he’s older, pitched a lot more and in his 6 starts…3-3 with 3 er or less. Lorenzen is 11-3 with 3 earned or less

      • lwblogger2

        My issue with Lorenzen Indy Red Man is that his fastball seems straight and he isn’t missing many bats. By no means am I saying he’ll never cut it as a starter but I think that’s where he differs from Bailey and Cueto.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I just like what I see from Iglesias a lot more. I think his repertoire is that of an elite major league pitcher, and what he needs is consistency. He may never get it, but given what he’s gone through the last few years, I think there’s a good chance that he can in the next year or two of regular pitching.

        Cueto most certainly did not have the same issues, because he had a plus slider and plus change up when he came to the bigs. He did throw harder, and he made some adjustments (and got older), but when he struck out 10 in his big league debut, he was already using his off-speed stuff to great effect.

        Homer never really had a good out pitch. It’s what he’s always struggled with. Over the last 3 years, he seems to have settled on the fastball, slider, splitter combo, using the splitter as his changeup. But since he’s been with the Reds he’s thrown a curve, several kinds of changeups, and several types of moving fastball. When he was drafted he had a plus plus fastball and a plus curve, and was rated as having the best curveball in the organization, but he couldn’t get it to work in the bigs.

        Lorenzen is different than both of them, because despite his high velocity, he’s struggled to get strikeouts at nearly every level he’s pitched at. Striking out few and walking many is a recipe for disaster, no matter how many starts you decide to not count. He’s got a very straight fastball, and only his slider really looks like a major league pitch right now, of his offspeed offerings.

      • Nick Carrington

        lwblogger2, Lorenzen failing to miss bats is a legitimate concern, but I still think it’s too early to make much of it. His pitches are developing. Even if he could command his fastball a little better, he would likely miss some more bats.

        But if he doesn’t eventually find a way to miss more bats, that will become an issue for sure. Jeremy could be right that he is a reliever, but I think he has shown enough ceiling to potentially be a solid number 3. Time will tell.

      • greenmtred

        Reliever in college because it dovetailed better with being a position player?

      • reaganspad

        Lorenzen is a starter, but I love the critics… reminds me of the early days of Homer and Johnny.

    • Nick Carrington

      Not really a straw man argument. I didn’t write this in response to someone saying they should be traded. Just a reminder that we’ve had arm talent in the past, and it took a while for that talent to manifest itself.

      It’s easy to say pitchers won’t work out. I could have easily written that. But the Reds have some serious arm talent. Lots of guys throwing in the mid 90s. Out of all those guys, they only need a few to become solid, mid rotation guys to have a pretty good rotation.

      I think Lorenzen looks like a starter. Mid 90s fastball, improving off speed stuff. His command and control haven’t been great, but he hasn’t been pitching that long. Cueto and Bailey struggled with the same thing at a similar point but had more experience.

      No, they don’t have a ton of number 1s. But how many legit number 1s are out there? Stephenson could be that guy, but a rotation of solid 2-4s can win.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I don’t see any real improvement with Lorenzen’s offspeed stuff. He’s struggled to strike people out at A, AA, AAA and the majors. I think he’s going to need to change something pretty distinctly to become a good starting pitcher. Clearly what he’s been doing hasn’t been striking many guys out.

        I agree he has the potential to change and be better than projected right now, but as of right now, I don’t see him as a starter in the next good Reds rotation. His issues are too different from Bailey’s and Cueto’s to just say he’ll get better because they did.

      • Nick Carrington

        I never said he would improve just because Cueto and Bailey did. I said he has the stuff to succeed, and it will likely take time. We can disagree whether he has the stuff or not. Baseball Prospectus has his future potential as a number 3 starter with a realistic role as a four. Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs also lists Lorenzen as having mid rotation upside.

        I just don’t think it’s crazy to suggest he has the stuff and potential.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I certainly never said it was crazy. I agree that his upside (possible potential) is a mid-rotation starter. That’s different than what you expect to happen, given all the possible results. That’s best case scenario. For me, based on what I see right now, I would project him to be a good reliever.

        For this team, that’s not a bad thing. If Lorenzen, Finnegan, and Cingrani can turn into 3 good relievers, that would go a long way toward helping this team get into contention.

      • Nick Carrington

        And his floor is probably a good reliever, so you see something closer to that end of all those possible scenarios, which is fine. He very well might be that.

      • Jeremy Conley

        No, I think his floor is a failed pitcher who never is able to strike anyone out and walks too many. I think what I see is the middle of the worst and best case scenarios. To say that being a successful big league reliever is his floor seems very optimistic to me.

      • Nick Carrington

        Haha well yeah you could say a failed player is everyone’s floor just as many top 10 prospects have failed. But I don’t think Lorenzen would make multiple top 100 lists if his realistic floor wasn’t at least a good reliever. If you think a good reliever is the middle between his realistic floor and realistic ceiling, then you think he is a fringy type prospect, which isn’t in line with most scouts. The middle of his realistic floor and realistic ceiling is a back of the rotation starter as Baseball Prospectus suggests.

      • Nick Carrington

        You can still think he is just a good reliever (which of course has value), but that is toward the bottom of what the experts suggest.

      • Indy Red Man

        He’s struggled to K people at A, AA, AAA? In all those 160 total innings he’s struggled? Give him some time? 160 is nothing.

      • ManuelT

        You’re right. There have been plenty of posts on this blog full of putdowns of our young pitchers. In my opinion they’re not getting enough credit for doing ok with so little experience.

    • Nick Carrington

      We too easily take a few poor starts from young players and draw conclusions about their future as many did when Cueto and Bailey struggled early on. This article seemed like a good way to remind people that the young guys will get hit around some this year, but they have the stuff to eventually be good pitchers.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I like what I’m seeing. Disco has been strong and if he ends up being a #3, that’s great; Raisel I really, really like; and Lorenzen given his dearth of pitching experience has performed admirably.

        Great piece Nick, I’m 100% with you on this. There is certainly a lot more to like about this group than not like. Critical that these guys get work the rest of 2015 and next year. 2017, if all goes right, we can get back in the hunt. Unfortunately highly unlikely before then, so people should temper their enthusiasm.

  17. lwblogger2

    Now MLBTraderumors is saying that the Dodgers are also taking on Arroyo’s contract (and I assume a rehabbing Arroyo) in the deal. Must be nice to have deep pockets.

    • tct

      It’s interesting how they are spending that money, though. They didn’t go out this off season and pay big bucks for the top free agents like Scherzer, Panda, Hanely- who they let walk, etc.. Instead they spent it in the international market, on mid level free agents like McCarthy, and essentially buying young talent in deals like these by taking on other teams dead weight in exchange for prospects.

  18. seat101

    I think it’s pretty likely that Bronson goes on the waiver wire as soon as the non-waiver deadline passes. Possibly someone will pick him up, that’s unlikely, I know. But the Dodgers can gauge interest that way.

  19. big5ed

    The Yankees just DL’d Michael Pineda with a “forearm strain,” which is the French term for “shredded elbow.” That may change the Leake calculus a little bit.

    I would prefer that they re-sign Leake. I think he has matured and would be a good mentor/staff leader for the young guns, although it may not be worth the cost. Leake would appear to be a low risk for an injury, although no pitcher without a knuckle ball is really at a low risk for injury.

    • Redgoggles

      Not dogging ML here, but I think there have been too many correlations between ML becoming the next Bronson Arroyo. While the evidence does point that way on the field, I haven’t seen/read anything that ML is the mentoring/leader type that BA was known for. I do prefer the Reds sign him for at least next year for the experienced innings eater if nothing else.

  20. ohiojimw

    From the Reds Twitter:
    Recall LHP David Holmberg, option to Pensacola C Kyle Skipworth, disable RHP Nate Adcock (right elbow), recall RHP Keyvius Sampson.


    So it looks like Peña isn’t going anywhere for a few days since they can’t recall Skipworth for 10 days except in an injury situation and the catchers at AAA are not on the 40 man.

    I thought Sampson had been starting?????

  21. deltaxray468

    I think you’re right on. The question I have, then, is this: Can the Reds win next year and still focus on developing this young pitching talent? The Reds core of Votto, Bruce, Frazier, Mesoraco, Hamilton, Phillips, and Cozart will be back. If Suarez’s bat is legit, can he be the LF we need. If the Reds do indeed keep Chapman, can a rotation of Bailey, Disco, Iglesius, Lorenzen, and (Stephenson, Cingrani, Moscot, etc.) pitch well enough to win? Would it make sense to try and convert Chapman into the ACE he’s meant to be next year? Then the youngin’s could develop and still have intermittent breaks to limit innings (and cover bullpen time). Plus, some of the Cueto 3 could factor into the bullpen or continue to develop. Is any of that possible or all a pipe dream?

    • FLA Red

      I think the Reds will keep Chapman. There’s no hurry to trade him and he puts cheeks in the seats. Plus, his value could increase in another year. I also believe the team will allow the rookie pitchers to continue to develop for the rest of 2015. Like you said, we have a solid core and if these youngsters can mature on the mound, I’m optimistic about ’16.

  22. Jay King

    I had a dream that Johnny missed Cincy so much he took a huge pay cut as a free agent this offseason to come home. Leake stayed with the team and next year

    then I woke up remember at this moment next season’s # 1 starter is Bailey and I was scared.

  23. philboyd studge

    How anyone can not see Homer Bailey as a bust is a huge mystery to me. He will be 30 next spring, and he is 58-51. As a frame of reference, Dwight Gooden had 58 wins at age 21. Given that the Reds have no idea what Bailey will produce next year after a year’s shut-down, by 2017 he might be a 31 year-old pitcher with a .500 record and fewer than 70 wins. That is the definition of a bust. Check Bailey’s lifetime Wins Over Replacement value. There are spot starters and guys who have bounced back and forth to AAA with better value.

    Not betting that pile of money on Johnny Cueto instead of Homer Bailey is the kind of mistake that sets a small market franchise back 5-7 years.