Friday, November 30, 2012

Reds may boast best rotation in baseball

The Cuban Missile could be enough to
push Cincy's rotation over the top

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

With the news of a Jonathan Broxton 3-year deal, Aroldis Chapman will assuredly be moving to the rotation. Now, I hope you all know how incredible the Reds rotation was last year. None of the Reds pitchers missed a start and four of them had an ERA of below 4.00, but the Reds did have a weak link; Mike Leake. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mike Leake. He is one of my favorite baseball players but emotions aside for a second, he was bad last year. Good news is, Chapman is taking Leake’s spot in the rotation and I guarantee you he can get a lower ERA than 4.58. Now, with Chapman in I don’t see a weak link and that is why I think this rotation is the best in baseball. Let’s break it down.

1. Johnny Cueto
Johnny Cueto is basically the man. He is without a doubt the Reds ace and is also one of the best pitchers in the league. He is at least a top-ten pitcher in the MLB and that is a great way to headline the best rotation in baseball. Cueto just dominates teams and he does it without strike outs to allow him to go deeper into games. He seems mentally tougher and he keeps improving each season. He could easily win the Cy Young next year and I promise you that he will be at least a candidate.

2. Mat Latos
Latos is just an absolute monster. The Reds did a great job in getting him last season and he has given the Reds one of the strongest one-two punches in the league. Latos is much more of a strikeout pitcher than any of the other Reds pitchers and that’s a big part of his domination. The only thing that concerns me about Latos is that he is a slow starter which he has proven the last couple seasons. If anyone can get Latos over his slow starts though it’s Bryan Price. I wouldn’t be shocked if Latos is in the Cy Young discussion next year right next to Cueto.

3. Homer Bailey
Bailey finally turned the corner and that moment happened September 28th 2012 when Bailey became a man and threw a no-hitter. After that you can just see a certain swagger with him. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if Bailey had a better season than Cueto and Latos. That’s how much confidence I have in him this year. This may be the best 1-2-3 punch in the league and it’s crazy to think they have an average age of 25. They are going to be fun to watch over hopefully the next decade. Walt, get these extensions done!

4. Bronson Arroyo
The 4 and 5 spots of this rotation is the main reason why this rotation is the best in the league. A couple teams have a stronger top-3 but no one rounds it quite like the Reds and a main part of that is Bronson Arroyo. He’s not going to dazzle you with anything but he gets the job done. You can count on him to have a sub 4 ERA and get 200 innings. This is most likely his last year in a Reds’ uniform and I expect him to make the most of it. He was clutch in the playoffs with 7 shutout innings and he just has that knack of pitching good in games the Reds’ need to win. I wasn’t the biggest Arroyo fan before last season but he has managed to change my mind.

5. Aroldis Chapman
Chapman just makes the rotation unfair. If he can make the transition to a starter nicely, the Reds have the opportunity to have 4 aces next season. That comes in handy in the playoffs. The ability to not have a weak link excited me. That’s the question though. Can Chapman make the transition? I think the answer is yes because well, I’m very optimistic for next year and second, Chapman says he feels more comfortable being a starting pitcher. If he could get a 1.50 ERA by pitching “uuncomfortably” imagine what he can do when he is comfortable. There is still a chance Chapman doesn’t succeed and if he does, don’t worry Reds fans. There are solutions.

The fill-ins

Tony Cingrani
Tony Cingrani just dominated all year in the minors and was very impressive when he was called up to the majors. The Reds may make him a relief pitcher but I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep him as a starter and I expect him to start the season in Triple-A as a starter. I’m one of the few people that is very high on Cingrani as a starter and something tells me the Reds agree with me. They felt comfortable enough with him to call him up to the big leagues much earlier than anyone expected. If Chapman fails as a starter and has to move back to the bullpen, there is nothing that makes me believe the Reds wouldn’t call up Cingrani to fill-in.

Daniel Corcino
Daniel “Cueto Jr.” Corcino is another prospect the Reds are very high on. He is also beginning the year in triple-a and he has been very impressive in the minors which earned him his nickname. I think he would be more than capable to fill in for an injured pitcher or Chapman if he is needed. Cingrani and Corcino will fight it out in two seasons for Arroyo’s rotation spot and I’m honestly comfortable with both. The Reds have two young pitching prospects that are pretty much ready to be major league pitchers and that gives them an awful lot of pitching depth. That’s why I think, as long as Cueto doesn’t get hurt, no matter what happens with injuries this season, the Reds will have the best rotation in all of baseball by far.

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