It had been on my mind. Homer Bailey has been visible in the Reds dugout at home games. He’d even had a prominent role in the dust-up with the Pirates. I’d heard the report from Jim Day earlier in the week that Bailey’s recovery from Tommy John surgery has been going well. No pain. Rehab on schedule. Expecting to throw off a mound before spring training. Encouraging news.

But I was really wondering about something else.

Was Homer Bailey going to become one of the leaders on the Reds?

With the departure of Matt Latos and Alfredo Simon in December, the recent trades of Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto left Bailey the sole remaining member of the 2014 starting rotation. With the 29-year-old Texan on the disabled list, the Reds are starting five rookie pitchers for the foreseeable future. Leadership on the pitching staff is sorely needed.

From a seniority standpoint, Homer Bailey becoming a team leader seems like a natural development. He can pass along the lessons he learned from his mentors like Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang.

But I hadn’t seen any real evidence of Bailey playing that role. As far as I knew, the camera hadn’t caught him talking the young starters. I hadn’t read anything about a new role for Bailey in any press reports. After watching his aggressive role in the on-field skirmish, it crossed my mind again on Sunday.

Cue C. Trent Rosecrans with a long interview with Bailey on Monday (Read the entire article. It’s full of quotes from the young Reds pitchers, Bryan Price about Bailey’s welcome mentorship role and more from Bailey.)

Homer Bailey is still in the Reds clubhouse, and he’s making sure he’s heard by the young pitchers, including the five in the rotation and the injured Jon Moscot, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier this season.

 For example:

He (Bailey) mentioned that, during Friday’s game, he led a group discussion with DeSclafani, Moscot and injured reliever Manny Parra about mechanics and strategy that stretched over two innings.

 Quoting Bailey:

“If you like playing baseball, you like talking baseball. It’s the other stuff, they go about their business really well. They’re not out there acting like goofballs – Moscot needs a few more PFPs, but we’ll get to that.”

Bailey doesn’t view himself as the smartest or most talented guy in the room. Instead, he’s the one with the most experience based on things going right and wrong.

“I’m not winning any Cy Young Awards, so I have a ways to go myself. But a lot of the stuff they’re going to experience, I just hope I can nip things in the bud before it happens to them,” Bailey said. “See things and say, ‘Hey man, you might want to try X, Y, Z because it could lead to something else. Why? Because I already did it. I know.’ I was the guy who touched the hot stove, now I can tell them not to.”

 Homer compared his role to that of a big brother, not a nanny. A big brother with two no-hitters, mind you.

“… more like bigger brother who has screwed up enough to teach them. I can tell you what doesn’t work,” Bailey said. “I think I can impart a lot of knowledge, but wisdom would be stretching it.”

Not everyone who becomes a leader seeks out that role. Often, it’s inherited from others leaving. As with many sports teams, that’s become the situation with the Reds pitching staff.

And it sounds like Homer Bailey could make a good leader. He’s realistic about his own accomplishments and shortcomings. He’s a no-nonsense role model when it comes to preparing. He’s also accomplished enough – whether you measure that in strikeouts, innings pitched, big contract, postseason performance or those two no-hitters – to be a credible communicator in the eyes of the rookies.

27 Responses

  1. jamesgarret

    Homer will be the senior guy unless we bring in some vets.He went through some hard knocks the first year or so and can relate to these guys.You hope leadership comes from your best palyers and I would say Homer qualifies from a pitching standpoint even if it is by default.I like it.

  2. Tom Gray

    Homer has thrown 2 no-hitters. That is a clue that he can be # 1 starter (ace potential).

  3. Joey

    Appreciate the article! Homer has been my favorite pitcher since the Reds drafted him. We are the same age and graduated high school the same year. So I have taken a special interest in watching him develop. He sure has taken his bumps and bruises through the years. He started out on a big high being drafted in the 1st round. He pitched very well in the lower minor leagues if I remember correctly. He was our #1 prospect but unfortunately he was brought up too early and was quickly out-shined by Johnny Cueto. He finally began putting all that talent together and had two very good seasons, pitched two no-hitters and performed excellently in the playoffs. But even in his success he has taken heat (remember his poor choice of words in his interview after the no-hitter?). Injuries and a large contract now hang over his head. He’s not the savior that some people wanted him to be but I believe our dark knight will rise before it’s all said and done! Go Homer, go Reds!

    • Joey

      Yes, I threw the Dark Knight reference in there because he has a striking resemblance to Christian Bale aka Batman…

  4. Brian Dunn (@surrfinTexas)

    Yeah Steve, my favorite player on the Reds. He’s a student now of the game, I watched him here in Arlington, TX, had seats for 2 games close to Reds dugout, Homer paid very close attention to the Rangers starting pitchers. This was 2 seasons ago I believe. I like him in this role for sure.

  5. ManuelT

    I really like the humility in his comments. It’s a good sign that he could be an effective leader. Helping the young guys avoid similar mishaps is an important role.

  6. Tom Gray

    Are those the only 2 other P with 2 no-hitters?

    Jim Maloney had 2 no-hitters. Reds ACE in the 1960’s.

    Comparing Stoneman and Mercker to Bailey is (quite frankly) absurd.

    • User1022

      I think his point was more that throwing 2 no hitters doesn’t necessarily correlate with being or becoming an “Ace”. About half the pitchers on the list you posted were slightly above average to average, while the other half could be called “Aces” at some point in their career.

      He brought up guys like Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux to show that truly great pitchers went their whole career without ever throwing multiple no-hitters. The list of great pitchers who never threw multiple no-hitters (or even one no-hitter) is quite a bit longer than that list and includes guys like Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, Whitey Ford, Tom Glavine, Curt Schilling, etc, etc, etc.

      Throwing a no-hitter is a great accomplishment. Doing it twice is exceedingly rare, and definitely takes at least some skill. However, like most rare feats in athletics, there is a certain degree of luck involved as well. I’m not denying Homer has talent and skill to be a pretty good pitcher, but to try to project him as an “Ace” just because he combined his skill with luck on two nights in his career is quite a reach.

      Case in point: Go back and watch his 2nd no-hitter highlights:

      http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/43487246/v28543079/sfcin-bailey-nohits-giants-for-nono-number-two

      He struck out 9, which is pretty good. But that also means every inning, two batters had absurdly bad luck on balls in play. How much of that was Bailey’s doing and how much was the batter’s fault can be debated (and something I’ve always been intensely interested in). I’d love to go back and analyze that game and figure out how many of the balls were hit hard, the batters just missed slightly.

      The difference between a line drive and a popup or ground out is really only a matter of an inch or two at the most.

      Again, I’m not trying to take anything away from Bailey and what he accomplished with his two no-hitters. But if you are going to make the case that a soon-to-be 30 year old pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery still has it in him to become an Ace, I prefer to look at other indicators (such as his xFiP) as opposed to two nights where the stars happened to align for him just right.

    • Tom Gray

      Agree with your first sentence. But Homer has Ace POTENTIAL.

      Only 26 P have EVER thrown 2 or more no-hitters in their MLB careers.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Does Homer have the potential, the physical skill? Most definitely. He doesn’t have the mindset yet, or at least he hasn’t shown it. Oh, except for two days in, what, about an 8 year career now?

      • Matt WI

        I think that’s a little (or, actually, a lot) harsh. He’s had some great, great games, outside of the no-hitters. Shoot, not that it’s the only example, but you can’t ask more than what he delivered in his game against the Giants in the playoffs.

      • Redleg 68

        You could say Homer delivered on the big stage where Johnny baseball faltered (pirates)several times. Great article Steve!

      • Matt WI

        Steve M…. I don’t know if anyone else is having this happen, but some of my posts are going out of order, or not showing up underneath their intended “reply” comment.

      • docmike

        Yes, Homer has only had two good games over an 8-year career.

        The rest of the time, awful.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      Again, Tom, so where’s the correlation? Some poor pitchers have thrown 2 nono’s, some good pitchers have. Why does that make Homer a #1 pitcher?

      • Tom Gray

        I don’t know if this will show up in the right place.

        I said POTENTIAL Ace. Not certain. Not even likely. MAYBE.

  7. Tom Billings

    How was Homer involved in the Pirates skirmish?

    • RedInInd

      I didn’t notice Homer in the brief replays I saw. TV guys said DL’ed players are not allowed to participate in such on-field shenanigans.

      • Steve Mancuso

        He was on the field. At various times he was in the middle of the mass of players. He also took a turn holding Brandon Phillips (or maybe Marlon Byrd).

  8. Kevin Michell

    This is all really encouraging. Got a lot of young power pitchers coming up through the ranks–if Homer can teach them a bit from both his successes and mistakes it could really speed up their development at the MLB level. Great job, Steve.

  9. Matt WI

    I think one can separate the no-hitters from being an ace without in anyway mitigating the no-hitters. We most often associate no-hitters with the best pitchers. I think what that tells us about Homer is that he has excellent, excellent stuff. However, being an ace is all about consistency in performance. Homer is exceedingly good at times, but needs to be more consistent in his strong performances to be be the ace.

    Not all aces throw no hitters, and not all who throw no-hitters are aces. We’re hoping Homer lines up in the sweet spot of being both. I think he can.

    I took the line in Steve’s post about “a big brother with two no hitters, mind you” as a means of giving Bailey some credit that he wasn’t taking for himself in the quotes.