Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reds' Rotation Taking Shape

Look for youngsters Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez to both open the season in the Cincinnati Reds' rotation, behind stalwarts Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Cueto and Volquez are near-locks - as Manager Dusty Baker has acknowledged - based on very strong Spring performances.

That leaves one spot open in the rotation, and the competition is coming down to Josh Fogg and Matt Belisle. Since Belisle still has minor-league options available, and also rates as a better bullpen hurler than Fogg, Fogg appears the strong favorite to nail down the final spot. Many observers believe Belisle would have a better future as a reliever than a starter anyway, since his fastball doesn't have enough movement to keep getting by batters the second or third time around the order.

You may have noticed that super-prospect Homer Bailey is not part of this discussion. That's because Bailey is no longer part of the Reds' discussion for the season-opening rotation. Bailey is guaranteed to open the season in Triple A after a Homer pile of problems coalesced in Spring Training, resulting in poor numbers:

  • Mechanical problems with his plant foot
  • Attitude problems (resistance to coaching)
  • The possibility that he is tipping pitches

Bailey is only 21 and has a world of talent. If he works on his issues at Triple A, he will still be a very good pitcher for the Reds (or someone), and likely in 2008. But for now, he's fallen behind Cueto and Volquez in the Reds' pecking (and pitching) order.