This week’s respondents are Matt Habel, Steve Mancuso, Jim Walker, Tom Mitsoff, and Chad Dotson.

Our Daily Reds Obsession: What’s the best-case scenario for Homer Bailey? Worst-case?

Matt: Homer Bailey had a bit of a mixed bag in terms of performance and results in 2017, with much to be desired as far as improvement goes. Best case scenario is that he gets a full spring to prepare for the season and shakes off all the rust that beleaguered him most of last year, he takes the ball on opening day and stays in the rotation all year, giving the Reds an established 3-4 WAR starter that they have lacked since Johnny Cueto was traded. Worst case scenario is that he stays healthy but cannot find his old form and takes up a rotation spot from a young pitcher while accounting for 30% of the Reds payroll as a replacement level player. Certainly not wishing for this by any means, but the silver lining if he does have more injury problems is that the Reds can use the roster spot to continue testing out the young arms.

Steve: Bailey gets to have a normal offseason this year for the first time in a while. He won’t be rehabbing off surgery. Bailey can build leg and lower body strength. That’s something he pointed to making a difference in stamina and not tiring at end of games. He’s only 31-32, so plenty of good years left for a starting pitcher.

If Bailey stays healthy, he could make 30+ starts and pitch 200 innings. Bailey started 18 games last year and in 9 of them gave up two or fewer runs. I could see Bailey returning to his 2012-2013 form as a staff leader and give the Reds solid #2 or #3 numbers. Obviously, his worst case is the same as for any other player, a production-hampering injury.

Jim: Bailey’s worst-case scenario is that he suffers another injury which causes him to miss a significant amount of time or even ends his career. Homer’s best-case scenario is that he avoids further major injury and goes on to approach the very high ceiling which was seen for him when he first arrived on the scene all those years ago. How likely is this to happen? I believe he has a real shot to at least come close if his body doesn’t fail him again. As he progressed through the second half of 2017, we saw that his stuff was largely undiminished from prior to TJ surgery. Just as importantly, I believe we saw a more mature and focused player who shows signs of becoming an accomplished craftsman. This is a winning combination if he can stay off the disabled list.

Tom: The best-case scenario for Homer Bailey is to mirror Adam Wainwright’s post-Tommy John trend line. Wainwright had TJ in 2011 at age 29, and since that point has an 80-46 record, two all-star selections and a Cy Young Award runner-up. In the two most recent seasons, Wainwright’s effectiveness has slipped, but that can be attributed to age as well as possible after-effects of surgery. Homer spent the last few months of last season basically learning to control his “new” repertoire, which no longer features the blazing fastball. He’ll now have to get people out with great placement and great movement on his pitches, which is the transition Wainwright successfully made. The worst case is a reoccurrence of the TJ injury, which will probably bring his Reds career to a close.

Chad: I’m serious when I say that Homer Bailey’s best-case scenario is as a solid number two starter for the 2018 and 2019 Reds. A 3+ WAR player. That’s where Bailey was before all the injuries, and I saw enough last year to believe that he could still round back into that form.

Do I think that’s likely to happen? Well, no, but we’re talking about the best-case, and I do think it’s within the realm of possibility. Worst-case, obviously, is more injuries and Bailey’s career draws to a close without touching those heights ever again. What we’ll probably see is that Bailey becomes a pretty good #4 starter for the remainder of his time in Cincinnati, and I’m okay with that.

24 Responses

  1. Kap

    Best case:
    He remains healthy and productive by July and the Reds trade him to make room all of the other pitchers and rid the Reds of that god awful contract. That will in turn allow the team to explore long term deals for Suarez and any other player they deem necessary to extend. Not to mention the solid package of prospects they will get from a starter hungry contender (Although I remain skeptical on just how good that package will be)

    Worse case:
    More injuries and ineffectiveness. Hopefully to repeat the process next year.

  2. cfd3000

    I think it’s ALL about health for Homer Bailey this year.
    Best case: 32 starts and the results follow.
    Worst case: Injury.
    It’s that simple. If he stays healthy he’ll be effective somewhere between solid and ace. If not then his time as a Red, and probably as a major leaguer, is over. I’m rooting hard for healthy.

  3. Kap

    Roster spot and money freed up. Worth it

    • Doug Gray

      There’s no money freed up unless the Reds just continue to not use his 40-man roster spot into the regular season (which won’t happen).

      • Bill

        Money may not be freed up, but at least according to the article the Reds will receive some sore of monetary compensation. However in the big picture the money is probably insignificant.

  4. Reaganspad

    Best case scenario is 30 starts and 30 wins for the wire to wire Redlegs

    Anything less would be a disappointment

    We are talking about Homer Bailey here

    Trade Homer Bailey? Bbbbbbbuy bushwood?

  5. Doug Gray

    Best case scenario: 33 starts, 33 perfect games. Come on guys, get with the program.

  6. IndyRedMan

    Of course he did. It just wouldn’t be our Redlegs if some of our guys are so unwanted they have to retire or play in Asia somewhere. Hint hint for Mr Williams….try to sign guys that someone besides yourself might see as a MLB player. Its really not that difficult?

    • Scotly50

      I think the same. They seem exited about players other clubs dump.

  7. IndyRedMan

    Homer’s last 9 starts = 4.28 era. I’ll go with that ballpark as a best case scenario. 160 ip with a 4.15 era (1.45 vs the Pirates:) He owes those guys about 8 mil in commission imo!
    Worse case….its obvious…back to the DL. I guess he could go on a shoplifting spree with Mike Leake and fire arrows at the Paul Blarts at the local mall but I’m guessing the DL would be worse case.

  8. Eric

    Best case scenario: Bailey is the Opening Day starter, having made it all the way through Cactus League preparations without injury. Beyond that, I have no idea.

    Homer Bailey is one of my favorite all-time Reds pitchers. He was part of the great Reds pitching firm of Cueto, Leake, Bailey and Latos. And he’s just broken…which I hate, both for the Reds and for him.

    • Scotly50

      I would almost “bet the house” Homer Bailey is the Reds opening day starter.

  9. Ethan L

    Best case: full season of pitching (200 IP) at 3.5-4 FIP or so (close to his performance in 2013).
    Worst Case: Injured again. Career over.
    What I think will happen: Battle some nagging injuries and pitch at around a 4-4.5 FIP level. I don’t know if he can who he was in ’13 again.

  10. Spaceman Red

    I would also submit another item regarding “Best Case” scenario. Homer is really the only pitcher of tenure on the Reds roster from the Central Division winning teams half a decade past. It would be ideal if, in addition to worthwhile production, he was an Arroyo type mentor for the younger guys still learning their craft. Anyone have any insight into whether Homer’s personality is suited to this kind of role?

  11. Sliotar

    At the moment, 50% of the Reds committed payroll for 2018 is for Bailey and Mesoraco ($34 million of $68 million).

    Two guys who, quite possibly, won’t even be on the next (really) good Reds team. Few MLB teams can overcome the misallocation of $21 million for a potential #4 starter, with projected 1.0 WAR and still be successful

    (Nothing personal toward Chad. His comment illuminates a challenge for Dick Williams.)

    For taking up 50% of the payroll (again, at this moment…arbitration/free agency to come) Bailey has to be more productive than a #4 starter and Mesoraco better than a platoon/part-time catcher, as part of a number of things required for the Reds to leap forward in 2018.

    • Scotly50

      I dd not realize the percentage of payroll committed to Bailey and Mesoraco. Add that with the 36% of payroll Votto is paid by himself, and that totals 86% of payroll invested with only three players. no wonder the Reds have become bottom feeders.

  12. gusnwally

    Best case is stays healthy all year and is 1 or 2 games over 500. After 10 plus years I think we have a pretty good line on Homer. Slightly over .500.

  13. TR

    Best: Becomes ace of the starting staff. Worst: Does not become the ace.

  14. Streamer88

    This point is crucial as you and Steve note but isn’t emphasized enough. As a prior pitcher who battled arm issues, I can personally attest to how a groove is impossible to find when your season prep is dictated by rehab. It’s bizarre and frustrating. Only way I can describe it is “your arm and legs/hips are not synced”.

    Anyway, if his new UCL substitute material holds up I expect reality is closer to the best case than the worst.

  15. bouwills

    The best case scenario for Bailey is that the Reds don’t go bankrupt & he gets the remaining $ 50+ M they owe him (2 years plus $5M option). Best case scenario for the Reds is that Bailey doesn’t matter. Between Castillo, DeSclafani, Finnegan, Stephenson, & Romano the Reds have 5 sp producing at a level better than (or as good as) HB. Only that contract keeps him in the rotation & within a year the Reds find a way out of that. If the Reds can swing a prospect out of moving Bailey, even better. The 24 karat gold best case scenario for the Reds is that they end the 2018 season with a projected 2019 rotation of Ohtani, Castillo, Stephenson, Finnegan, & DeSclafani. A fellow can dream can’t he?

  16. thekidredblog

    Best case: 33 starts, 15-7, 3.43 ERA, 2-4 WAR, and maybe a no-hitter (duh). Worst case: another injury.

  17. IndyRedMan

    Best case….Homer is the 3rd-4th best Reds starter and puts up 30+ starts! Worse case…DL or he ends up as the Reds best starter. Castillo and Stephenson have much better stuff at this point and I like Mahle and Romano better as well. Homer was never much on really changing speeds and pinpoint control. He had a good run w/a 95-97 mph heater when the average was 91. Now almost everyone throws 94+ and hitters have caught up. Can an old dog learn new tricks? I’m guessing his ceiling is around a 4 era, but I hope I’m wrong? I could see Homer, Romano, and maybe Finnegan, Lorenzen, or Garrett, etc becoming a solid bottom part of the rotation. I have higher hopes for Mahle? I can see a little bit of a Arrieta crossfire there which is tough on righties and he’s shown excellent control in the minors with uncommon poise for a young guy.


    The best case is Bailey wins $400 million in the power ball lottery and decides to retire canceling the $40 million the Reds owe him. The worst case is he does not win the lottery.