Friday, March 1, 2013

A preseason preview of the Reds starting rotation

Latos is staring hard down the barrel of another
great season in Cincinnati
by: Matt Bollmann
Staff Writer

Right around this time last year we were discussing the acquisition of Mat Latos and the impact that he would have on last years starting rotation. The Reds certainly gave up a lot to get Latos, so naturally as fans, we expected big things out of him. He definitely did not disappoint as he had a very solid season, all things considered. This year we turn a new leaf. In a year where Mat Latos appears to be locked in as the number two starter, we turn our attention to the transition of Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. After the dominant year that Chapman had as the closer, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the team is transitioning Chapman to the rotation.

Notable Additions: Manny Parra, Armando Galarraga

Projected Opening Day Rotation:

RHP Johnny Cueto - Cueto is coming off of a year where he ended the season in the playoffs with an injury. Going into spring training, Cueto appears to be healthy and has also slimmed down a bit since the injury in the playoffs in game one against the Giants. Cueto had an outstanding year last season as he posted a 19-9 record with a 2.78 ERA. He looks to continue to build off the success that he had last season as he continues to be this teams ace of the staff and a formidable number one starter.

RHP Mat Latos - Going into last season the question was whether or not Latos would have success outside of San Diego. Latos typically had success pitching in PETCO Park, but outside of there he struggled quite a bit. Latos certainly proved that he could pitch outside of PETCO and proved it big time as he became a big game pitcher that the Reds needed. He ended last season with a 14-4 record and 3.48 ERA. It was an ERA that reflected the types of numbers he had in San Diego. While his home runs allowed were a bit inflated at 25, that was a bit expected coming into a smaller ballpark as most of his home runs allowed were at GABP. Latos comes into this season expected to be just as good as he was last season as he continues to mature as a solid number two starter.

RHP Bronson Arroyo - Most of the time, you never know what to expect out of Bronson Arroyo year-by-year. He could have a year like he had in 2011 where he ended with a 9-12 record and 5.07 ERA or he could have a year like he had in 2012 where he posted a 12-10 record with a 3.74 ERA. What you do know though, is that Arroyo will always give you a fighter. Since 2005 (with Boston) Arroyo has not started less than 32 games. He is always out there every fifth day and battles. Although he is inconsistent at times (note 2008 against Toronto, 10 runs in 1+ inning), he still will battle every fifth day. Arroyo looks to build off of last year as he tries to continue to be out there on the bump every fifth day.

RHP Homer Bailey - Reds fans are highly hoping for Bailey to build off of last years success. Last year was the year where Homer seemed to come into his own and become a more consistent pitcher. He ended last season with a 13-10 record and 3.68 ERA which was nearly a full run lower than it ever has been since he entered the majors in 2007. Bailey made 33 starts last year and threw 208 innings which is a bit over 70 innings more than he has ever pitched in a given season in the majors as well. Bailey became a guy that did not have injury problems and did not come across as the arrogant Homer Bailey of the past. Look for Bailey to have a solid season as this teams fourth starter.

LHP Aroldis Chapman - Chapman is the biggest key to this rotations success. As of now it seems as if the team is going to continue with the transition of Chapman to the starting rotation. With the success he had last year? Yes. This is probably the biggest question mark in the Reds rotation heading into the 2013 campaign. Chapman was the teams closer last season as he posted a 5-5 record, 38 saves with a 1.51 ERA. Can you say dominant? This is why this is such a surprise. Although the Reds did originally sign Chapman to be a starter, the dominance that he had as a closer, how can you mess with that? The rotations success heading into this season hinges on Chapman.

Guys we could see later in the year: Mike Leake, Manny Parra, Armando Galarraga, Tony Cingrani

Group Grade: A-
The only thing that keeps me from giving this group an “A” is the unknown about Arroyo and Chapman. You never know when you’re going to get with Arroyo and this is potentially Chapman’s first year starting in the majors. Other than those two factors this is an extremely solid starting rotation. With two guys who could potentially put up Cy Young type numbers in Cueto and Latos, they are the two best guys to be leading this starting rotation.

Much of this teams success in 2013 will hinge on how successful their starting rotation ends up being. Last year the teams offense struggled, but the rotation and the bullpen were both solid pieces. Will the rotation have as much success as it did last year? That’s yet to be seen. What we do know though is that this is a group of guys that will all compete day in and day out.

Here is a look back at the past positional previews:

Monday (2/25) - Outfielders
Tuesday (2/26) - Infielders
Wednesday (2/27) - Catchers
Thursday (2/28) - Relief Pitchers
Friday (3/1) - Starting Pitchers


Anonymous said...

Latos' away splits as a Padre were better than his home numbers. He was actually better away from PetCo.

JB said...

You mention 2 guys who could potentially put up cy young numbers in Latos and Cueto, but don't forget that Chapman was in the running last season. Not only was he in the running, but going into August he was many people's favorite to win the award, he had a bad stint of like 2-3 games late in the year that I think cost him in the voting. I disagree that the Reds success hinges on chapman! Look for starters our offense struggled last season after 2011 being top 3 I believe in Runs. Frazier will be a every day player, Cozart should improve in his second year, a healthy Voto, and our offense will be drastically better. I think the reds currently are better off with Chapman closing, though if he can succeed as a starter great!! I think Broxton and Marshall can get the job done at the back end of games! Though if Chapman doesn't work at as a starter the 5th spot will be up in the air, I believe Leake can be a solid starter the guy needs some confidence. But the acquisition of Galaraga should help with our depth and I believe he will make some starts throughout the season wether it is in the 5 spot of the rotation or as a fill in. Also Cingrani is another guy I can see as someone the Reds us as a starter, maybe not until 2014 when Arroyo's contract is up, but he will be a Reds starter at some point.