Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ESPN's Schoenfield ranks the Reds rotation in the top ten

Is he the ace now?
You may have heard that the New York Yankees signed prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal. While it's only a guess as to how he will perform in America, his stats playing in Japan suggest that he will bolster the Yankees rotation.

Although there are still prominent free agent starting pitchers available, David Schoenfield of ESPN decided to go ahead and rank the top ten starting rotations in baseball to date. It should come as no surprise that the Reds rotation made the cut, coming in eighth on the list. Schoenfield listed seven pitchers from each team, considering how rare it is for a team to go through a full season using just five starters. Here's what he had to say about the Reds:

8. Cincinnati Reds (3.43 ERA, .245/.298/.395, 12.0 WAR)
Rotation: Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, Robert Stephenson

Reds starters have been remarkably durable the past two seasons. They didn't miss a single start in 2012 and only Cueto spent time on the disabled in 2013 as Cincy starters pitched the second-most innings in the majors behind the Tigers. Give some credit to pitching coach Bryan Price, who takes over as manager this season. Arroyo is unlikely to return to the Reds, but Cingrani, with his deceptive delivery and sneaky fastball, is ready to take his spot after a strong showing filling in for Cueto. 

The big questions: Can Cueto stay on the field for 30 stats and are youngsters Corcino and Stephenson ready if needed?

At first thought, eighth seems a little low, though being considered the eighth-best rotation in all of baseball is really nothing at which to scoff. However, when looking at the other teams in front of the Reds on the list, it's hard to make sound arguments one way or the other. You could obviously flip and swap teams here and there, but in the end what's the difference? It's just a list on the internet. The only one I was really a little puzzled about was the Yankees being at five. I don't think the rotation is quite that good with Tanaka, who is not yet proven in America. They're the Yankees and not the Reds though so I don't care.

While is it quite reasonable that Corcino could make his major league debut in 2014 as a fill-in starter, I think a lot more things would have to fall in place for us to see Stephenson get a legitimate chance. If we do see Stephenson, I think that would either mean he is absolutely obliterating the minor leagues, or the Reds have experience so many injuries to the rotation that the season is completely lost. The Reds have signed veterans Chien-Ming Wang and Jeff Francis as additional backup, as well as acquiring young lefty David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks in the Ryan Hanigan trade. Any of those three pitchers, along with Corcino and barring minor league disaster, will be in line to make spot starts in the case of injury before Stephenson. His future is quite bright however, and should Bailey leave Cincinnati, he could help ease the pain.

What do you think about Schoenfield's rankings? Right or wrong? Fair or unfair? Do you even care?

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