Homer Bailey had Tommy John surgery on May 8, 2015. Today, Reds Manager Bryan Price says [John Fay] he expects Homer Bailey back around May 1.

“Homer just looks great,” Price said. “He’s throwing. He’s done all the long-toss work. He’s been off the mound. You could make an argument that you can really rush him for Opening Day. But we’re not going to do that. He’s coming off back-to-back elbow surgeries. We’re going to get him plenty of mound time and slowly integrate him into games.

“He’ll be ready right around the first of May.”

That’s right around the date I guessed back in September.


Zach Buchanan [new beat writer for the Enquirer] reports this:

Bailey has had two bullpen sessions before reporting to camp, although has only thrown fastballs. The right-hander is throwing all his pitches off flat ground, though, and said his arm feels “like nothing ever happened.”

Bailey is reporting [John Fay] that he feels normal and that his recovery from Tommy John surgery has been better than expected.

Bailey has been surprised by how well the comeback from Tommy John has gone.

“I have been — quite a bit,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a lot worse. But everything has gone really smooth.”

The Reds are leaning on Bailey to lead the young pitching staff, and he’s comfortable with that role. He was the one veteran at the “pitching summit” the Reds held in January. Fifteen of the top prospects were invited as well.

It may take a while for Bailey to return to top form, but he’ll be healthy while doing it.

In Bailey’s case, there may have been synergy between his two elbow injuries. His fraying ligament may have put more stress on the nearby muscles, causing them to tear. His weakened muscles would have provided less protection for the joint and could have contributed to his UCL ripping. The good news for Bailey is that studies of pitchers with flexor mass and UCL problems find that a similar percentage of pitchers return to full performance compared to those pitchers who just have TJS.

If you want to refresh your memory about the general prognosis for Tommy John surgery patients, and particularly Homer Bailey, you can read the full post.

Bailey’s last healthy season – 2013 – was outstanding. He finished top ten in the National League in numerous categories for starting pitchers. Bailey was 8th in strikeout-rate, 8th in K-BB%, 9th in xFIP (3.34), 8th in SIERA (3.32), 7th in fastball velocity (94.1 mph), 2nd in slider velocity (88.4, between Matt Harvey and Madison Bumgarner) and 7th in swinging strike rate (10.7).

Bailey’s fought several nagging injuries in 2014. But as the Reds fought to stay in contention through mid August Homer Bailey was at his best. Over his final seven appearances, starting with a 3-hit shutout over the soon-to-be World Series champion San Francisco Giants, Bailey’s ERA was 1.62. In five of those seven starts, he gave up zero or one runs. In his last 2014 start, against Cleveland, he threw seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. It’s hard to believe (or remember) now, but after that game, on August 7, the Reds were only 4 games out of first place.

16 Responses

  1. Shchi Cossack

    The Reds won’t need a 5th starter until April 18th against the Rox and will need only one more start from the 5th starter on April 23rd, before Bailey’s turn in the rotation would come up after May 1st.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I’ll bet he’s really eager to get out there and pitch.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Bailey’s quote as reported by Sheldon…

        “After you’ve watched a bunch of games for a year straight, it’s, ‘I want to play.’ It’s kind of like the kid being in timeout,” Bailey said. “You’re sitting there, staring at the wall, and everyone else is playing. You want to go to recess.”

  2. Jim t

    Steve after almost two years of not pitching I’d be extremely disappointed if he wasn’t.

  3. JB WV

    I was lucky enough to have been at his first no-hitter in Pittsburgh. Probably the last one I’ll ever see, but what a thrill. Couldn’t have been happier for Homer. Hope he has a strong, healthy year.

  4. David

    Too many starting pitchers for the Reds?
    Desclafani, Iglesias, Moscot, Lorenzen, Finnegan? Homer back in May, and Lamb back probably around the same time? And what if Stephenson has a great Spring training, goes to AAA, and is untouchable? A June call-up?
    Finnegan and Lorenzen start in the rotation and move to the bullpen as Homer and Lamb come back? And it will be really important for the Reds to have a good bullpen this year, as a lot of these guys will be innings limited at some point.

    • Matthew Carter Johnson

      Lorenzen is probably a bullpen guy. Great arm but I just think that’s where they have him slotted and where he fits best. But hey, your guess is as good as mine. Interesting story to follow.

    • CI3J

      It’s a good problem to have.

      Chances are, not all of them are going to pan out into being MLB caliber starters, so it’s good that the Reds have so many options to fall back on. I’d be more worried if they only had the bare minimum of young candidates that they were counting on, which was the situation when Homer first came up and stunted his development early on.

      In fact, in addition to Disco, Iglesias, Lorenzen, and Finnegan, out of the Reds top 30 prospects, 17 are pitchers. Granted, only a handful of them realistically have a shot at helping the team this season (or even next season), but it’s still quite a list:

      1. Robert Stephenson, RHP
      2. Cody Reed, LHP
      3. Amir Garrett, LHP
      7. Nick Travieso, RHP
      8. Keury Mella, RHP
      9. Sal Romano, RHP
      10. Tyler Mahle, RHP
      11. John Lamb, LHP
      13. Antonio Santillan, RHP
      16. Wyatt Strahan, RHP
      17. Tanner Rainey, RHP
      20. Ian Kahaloa, RHP
      22. Zack Weiss, RHP
      25. Jon Moscot, RHP
      27. Tejay Antone, RHP
      29. Jonathon Crawford, RHP
      30. Nick Howard, RHP

      If the Reds can’t peice together a top of the line young starting rotation out of this crop by 2018, the whole scouting department should be fired.

    • doctor

      Unfortunately for Moscot, he is likely just a placeholder guy for Bailey and goes to bullpen as long/middle relief or AAA as depth starter. He just does not have stuff/ceiling and is caught at wrong time of reds pitching. Once Lamb is healthy and ready, is Lorenzen or Finnegan struggling at all likely is next evaluation.

      Stephenson is likely targeted for AAA regardless of his spring as he should be, just to get him experience and that his control issues are manage-able. Plus no reason to start his service clock too soon. A mistake team made with Leake and not having him get half year of AAA.

  5. WVRedlegs

    This is certainly good news. On the Reds Caravan they were talking about the end of May as a return.
    I remember back in August of 2014 when Bailey was humming along. He was pitching better than any pitcher in the NL at that time. First, it was Jocketty’s inaction at the trade deadline, then Bailey went down, and then Latos’s right elbow acted up again as he went back to the DL. The wheels fell off. Frazier slumped, Bruce slumped after his injury and Joey wasn’t Joey.
    At the Caravan, Tucker Barhart emphasized strongly, the second half of the season this team will be good. Once Homer gets back and settles in to lead the rotation, the rotation will gel as will the bullpen. Homer, Iglesias, and DeSclafani will be a nice top 3 and Lorenzen, Finnegan, Moscot, Lamb, and by the second half Stephenson and Reed all competing for the #4 and #5 spots.
    With Lamb’s high K/9 last year, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Lamb will be the first to be moved to the back end of the bullpen with Hoover, Jumbo, Wood and Cingrani. I look for Lamb to be the closer by the second half, if Hoover can’t hold the job.

    • WVRedlegs

      I wanted to add, this year could be very similar to 2009. So-so first half, but a very nice August and September to ride into 2010. 2016 may be like that and ride a strong second half into 2017. And we all know what happened in 2010. That would be nice for it to happen again in 2017.

      • doctor

        That would mean a lot of first and second year MLB position players panning out successfully, along with new guys in the starting rotation. I think your scenario more probable for 2017 going in 2018. Sure like the optimism you have though, lol.


    You have to think the reds deal one of Disco or Homer at this years deadline. Then slot the other with Iggy, Reed, Stephenson, and whomever emerges among the rest for the 5th spot in 2017. A lot riding on Winker though, because they need another legit bat to be competitive in 2017.

    • BMBLUE

      That can be a very competitive staff for 2017. We saw last year with the Mets, young starters can be effective.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    Price identified 7 starting pitchers (Jon Moscot, Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Tim Melville and Jonathan Sanchez) competing for the 3 open slots on the 25-man roster for opening day.

    Sheldon also reported…

    “His [Keyvius Sampson’s] value really is more in our bullpen mix,” Price said. “We know that he can start, but right now with who we have here, I’d love to see him as a versatile bullpen arm and swing guy.”

    If the Reds are serious about getting all their starting pitcher candidates stretched out heading into the saeason, I still think they should open with a 4-man rotation for the first 2 weeks of the season due to the scheduled off days so the 5th starter can finish stretching out at AAA and join the 25-man roster for the last 2 weeks of April when the Reds need a 5th starter. That would allow an additional bullpen arm to help pick up the innings not covered by the starters during the first 2 weeks and keep all the starters on a 5-day rotation.

    Sheldon also reported…

    “Jesse [Winker] hasn’t gotten to Triple-A and mastered that,” Price said. “However, sometimes you just feel like a guy’s ready and give him an opportunity to play on a regular basis. I think right now I’d like to see him start the season at Triple-A. But I’d never say never with this kid. I know he’s a special talent.”

    Where was this sound process and thinking when the Reds decided to promote Hamilton to the 25-man roster and burn 2 years of his service time before he had mastered Triple-A?!!!

  8. ohiojimw

    Where was this sound process and thinking when the Reds decided to promote Hamilton to the 25-man roster and burn 2 years of his service time before he had mastered Triple-A?!!!


    Down the drain and out the door, chased by WJ’s miscalculation that he could bring in Choo for his walk year but subsequently extend him just like he had done with McGwire, Rolen et al with the Cards.