Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Reds hurlers among pitchers dubbed 'poised' to have Cy Young-worthy seasons

It's very hard to believe that neither Mat Latos nor Homer Bailey have yet to make one All-Star appearance between them. After all, the two have combined to go 105-89 with a sub-4.00 ERA in 12 major league seasons. But could both pitchers be on the brink of stardom? According to Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider, the answer to that question is an enthusiastic "yes!"

On Friday, Szymborski published a piece featuring six pitchers, who he believed are poised to make "the leap" in 2014. You know, similar to the leap Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer made last year to win the Cy Young Award. Szymborski believes that either Latos and Bailey may very well replicate Scherzer's 2013 greatness in 2014.

Here is what he had to write about Latos:

Still just 26 years old for the 2014 season, Latos has been one of the more dependable starters during in the majors, never missing serious time (127 starts in four full seasons), with his worst single-season ERA being just 3.48.

At 6-foot-6, Latos looks like a pitcher, and his stuff, a few fastball flavors, slider, curve, and change, all thrown with good command, tends to agree. Despite a record for durability, we have yet to see a full season of Latos being completely "on" as he continued to pitch through shoulder soreness (2011), an abdominal strain (2013), and suffered a rough start in 2012 while he adjusted to the pitcher-unfriendly confines of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

He finished eighth in the NL in FIP (3.10) last season and appears ready to take the next step.

And here is the excerpt taken about Bailey:

After years of underperforming, Bailey finally established himself as a Real Major Leaguer in 2012, but I still suspect that his upside is higher than the solid 111 ERA+ he has put up the past two seasons.

In 2013, Bailey was 11th in baseball in percentage of pitches that were swinging strikes. The top 10 includes both Cy Young Award winners and five others who received votes (Yu Darvish, Anibal Sanchez, Sale, Harvey, and Madison Bumgarner). Bailey throws hard, with the seventh-fastest fastball average in 2013 and the second-fastest slider, and given his ability to miss bats, his upside is higher than simply being a good No. 2 or 3 starter.

In a winter that hasn't produced much for the Reds save from snow, this vote of confidence from Szymborski regarding 40 percent of their rotation ought to be nice to hear. For what it's worth, I am in agreement with Szymborski here, because I too believe both Reds pitchers are set to have fantastic seasons. Like Shin-Soo Choo in 2013, Bailey is determined to maximize his value in time to hit free agency, while Latos seems ready to bust through and become a household name, and perhaps score a sizable contract extension from the organization.

We can only hope that Szymborski's prediction holds true.

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