A couple of things have happened lately that concern the Reds and who starts games on the mound. Homer Bailey has returned and Robert Stephenson has been lights-out in Louisville.

Also, Matt Harvey is on the way out. Yes, really. No, there is no good argument for keeping him. Given these things, it seemed a good time to poll the state of the Nation on who should start for the Reds next year. So, I took each of the likely candidates and asked simply, whether each should be in the rotation next year. Yes or No (except for Disco, but we’ll talk about that in a minute). Here is the Twitter Rotation for your 2019 Reds.

  1. Tyler Mahle
  2. Luis Castillo
  3. New Starting Pitcher
  4. Anthony DeSclafani
  5. Robert Stephenson
  6. Sal Romano
  7. Other
  8. Homer Bailey

The first thing that jumps out at me here is “Ouch, Homer Bailey.” He got a lower percentage than the question that asked about literally anyone else in the system.

I was also surprised at how well Disco did. I included an option that amounted to, “Yes, but he probably will get hurt, so he doesn’t really count” but “Yes” still won by a mile. I have an awfully hard time counting on him in the long-run.

But otherwise, I have a hard time disagreeing. I think the Reds needs to acquire one front-line starter to plug into the rotation. My personal opinion is that it should be (roughly): 1. New Guy, 2. Mahle, 3. Castillo, 4/5. Stephenson/Romano, Alternate: Disco. I definitely think it’s time to give Stephenson another shot and, if he performs well in the majors, he’ll move up the list fast. As things currently stand, I have him roughly equal to Romano because Romano is currently pitching well in the majors and has overall better numbers in the majors than Stephenson, even if his ceiling isn’t nearly as high. A couple of days ago, I was able to talk with Louisville Manage Dick Schofield about Stephenson and here’s what he had to say:

“Every time he goes out there, it’s a really good feeling that he’s going to get deep in the game, and he’s done that.”

On Stephenson’s changed approach, especially at the start of games:

“That first inning, it seemed like he was so amped up, he needed to go from fifth to second gear… there was no pace to it. It’s like taking a deep breath and saying ‘here we go’ instead of holding your breath and seeing how long you can pitch.”

On dealing with major league struggles:

“Sometimes, it’s really good guys to get knocked down a notch, regroup, and then figure it out.”

The hard part is Homer. I think, if he pitches like he did on Monday until the end of the season, everyone will want him in the rotation. If he returns to the Homer we’ve mostly seen since his return last season, fans will have a hard time accepting that he should be in the rotation given that his contract will be over after 2019. With a team on the cusp of contention, it can be necessary to make hard decisions. I suppose, as the year finishes up, we’ll see how hard Homer makes it for the Reds.

14 Responses

  1. Streamer88

    I made a prediction at the start of the year that Homer would be much better. I was wrong. But what I saw was good velocity, good stamina. Homer could be done and his last start was anomalous. Or he could be 3-4 months behind Harvey – getting his feel back on offfsoeed and fastball location.

  2. Joe

    The continued problem for the Reds is they’ve re-built via quantity rather than quality. 6 pitchers were named above, and none are better (as of today) than a 3rd starter.

  3. Ghettotrout1

    Indy I am confused as to why you are so high on Lorenzen. I never thought his ceiling was higher than Castillo or Bob Steve and really to this point its hard to say Mahle either. What makes you so high on Lorenzen? I’m not saying don’t give him a shot I’m just surprised at his ranking above. Or anyone else can answer that. I honestly just don’t know how we can still believe that he is that high on the list.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      Because he’s athletic and can hit. He also has big biceps.

      People like that.

  4. cfd3000

    The only locks right now, always assuming they stay healthy, are Mahle and Castillo. If DeSclafani stays healthy it’s hard to see him without a slot, but that’s a big if. I will be very surprised, though pleasantly so, if Bailey pitches well enough to justify a slot, and less surprised if he doesn’t but gets one anyway. I don’t trust the front office on that call. I have a funny feeling Robert Stephenson will get his chance this year, and will make enough of it to finally join the rotation for good next year. I think Romano needs to learn a third pitch, either in AAA or the offseason, to have a real chance at long term success. But that still leaves at least three guys – Lorenzen, Garrett, and Reed – on the outside looking in with plenty of potential (perhaps debatable with Reed) but no opportunity. So I think the rotation will be:

    Mahle / Castillo / Stephenson / Bailey / Romano

    But I WISH it could be:

    Mahle / Castillo / Stephenson / Amazing new guy / Best performer after a serious audition from Lorenzen / Garrett / Reed / Romano / Bailey

    with Tony Castillan and Hunter Greene working their way up to displace the worst performers from those top 5.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      So are you not including Disco in the rotation IF hes healthy?

      • Jeff Gangloff

        I think Disco is the second best and arguably the best pitcher on this team. People forget how good his 2016 was. A 3.2 ERA and 3.5 SO/W is pretty solid.

        I think he gets a little bit of a break this year considering he didn’t pitch all of 2017 and missed some of this year.

        He’s going to be in the rotation next year. He just needs to stay healthy.

      • cfd3000

        Jeff – I would expect him to be one of the top 5 if he’s healthy – could have included him on the “earn it by performance” list. And of course I do hope he’s healthy. But it’s so early with him. I’m not holding my breath.

  5. Hanawi

    Very little chatter about the Reds right now on potential trades. Maybe they are hoping a team that is still looking for bullpen help will get desperate near the deadline and give up a haul for Iglesias or Hughes? Really hoping they can work out deals for Harvey, Scooter, and one of Duvall/Hamilton, so some of the young guys can get some solid playing time. I’m fine with lottery ticket type prospects for all of those guys. Or even a SP with mid-back of the rotation potential.

  6. roger garrett

    No reason not to give others a chance.Guys who have been said to be 2 or 3 years away should be in the mix as well.Why not?If you can hit big league pitching then why not.Keep in mind we have a guy in Billy that can’t hit and is obviously over matched at times and if these guys are that as well then OK but how do you know unless you try them out.I hate it for Winker but it should be treated as a great opportunity to look at others.Be creative let Ervin and Herrera and Indy or me or Jason give it a shot out there.

  7. bouwills

    In the last week the Reds have lost Blandino, Stephens, & now Winker.

  8. big5ed

    In that event, they would start Castillo Saturday night on his normal 4-days rest, and then Stephenson on Sunday, also on 4-days rest. But I expect to see Harvey on Saturday night, and predict he will go to the Mariners.

  9. Jack

    Surprised BC hasn’t signed Chris Tillman already. Wouldn’t be surprised if their big free agent signing over the winter is big Sexy Bartolo Colon.