Sunday, October 2, 2011

Season Recap by Position: Starting Pitchers

Day 1: Catchers
Day 2: Starting Pitchers
Day 3: Relief Pitchers
Day 4: Outfielders
Day 5: Infielders
Day 6: Management

In the second installment of our six-part recap series, today we take a closer look at how the Reds' starting pitchers performed this season.

"My pitching philosophy is simple -- keep the ball away from the bat." -Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige

Bronson Arroyo - The 2011 season was one to forget for the 34-year old hurler. Arroyo set the franchise record for most homers allowed in a single season (46), posted an ERA over five (5.07), recorded a negative WAR (-0.5) and failed to eclipse 200 innings for the first time in seven years. All in all, there may not be a single Red more ready to close the book on this '11 campaign than Bronson.

Johnny Cueto - No pitcher on the staff made a bigger stride this season than Cueto. The Dominican native emerged as the ace of the rotation after nearly winning the league ERA title (2.31), and finishing eighth among all NL pitchers in WAR (4.3) -- all of this in spite of missing about eight starts due to injury. At age 25, it appears as though Cueto has finally blossomed into the player the organization thought he would after signing him as an 18-year old in 2004.

Homer Bailey - Bailey set career-highs in wins (9), games started (22), ERA (4.43) and innings pitched (132) this year. The former first round selection has continued to show gradual improvement over his five major league seasons, but continues to be hampered by nagging injuries. Perhaps an offseason of rest and training will do Homer well to finally break through with an injury-free year in 2012.

Mike Leake - Leake has drawn comparisons to Greg Maddux over his first two seasons in the bigs, and after the kind of success he's enjoyed so far, why not? The 23-year old out of Arizona State led the team in nearly every major pitching category including wins (12), ERA (3.86), WHIP (1.17) and strikeouts (118). Not too shabby for a guy that bounced-back from a run-in with the law at Macy's in late-April.

Dontrelle Willis - If you followed Cincinnati even just a little bit since mid-July, you know this guy's story. After being signed to a one-year, minor league deal by the club last offseason, the southpaw worked his way back to the big show right before the All-Star Break. He promptly started 13 games before finally picking up his first win in his last outing of 2011. Both Willis and the Reds have expressed mutual interest in having the 29-year old return in 2012, but it's a toss-up whether or not that idea will come to fruition.

Edinson Volquez - Dubbed the team's #1 starter in Spring Training, Volquez failed miserably to live up to that billing this year. A 17-game winner in 2008, the right-hander burned a trail back and forth from Louisville to Cincy on I-71. He spent much of the campaign in Triple-A, but was 5-7 with a whopping 5.71 ERA in 20 starts in his time with the Redlegs. There's no question that Volquez has under-achieved mightily since being named an All-Star three years ago.

Travis Wood - Like Volquez, Wood also split time between the minors and majors in '11. In 18 starts for the Reds the left-hander went 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA. Believe it or not, he actually fared worse with Lousville as evidenced by his 5.33 ERA and 2-3 record in 10 outings. Nonetheless, the 24-year old did about what was expected from him -- which was to provide Dusty Baker a starter he could turn to when the squad was in need of one.

Group Grade: D+
In the preseason preview of the starting pitchers I stated that one of the strengths of this unit was it's depth. While that still holds true, it was also one of it's problems. For what they held in quantity, they equally lacked in quality. The group finished the year ranked below the league averages of other pitching staffs in ERA, BAA, WHIP, and strikeouts. They also combined to serve up the most homers (138) of any staff in MLB -- aided by Arroyo's record-breaking total in addition to playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park of course.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dontrelle's innings-adjusted run support was the lowest on the team, something like 3 and change per 9 innings. He was far from being the worst arm on the staff.