Jeff Francis... Francy, Baby. What are we going to do with you? There are basically three paths he can take, although with how complicated and meditative the 5th Starter/Bullpen continuum has become, it might be more like a noble eightfold path.
Here's what could happen with the lefty Francis, ranked in order of how likely each seems to me:
- Francis goes to AAA and starts
- Francis goes in the bullpen (likely sending LeCure to AAA)
- Francis joins the rotation (sending Chapman and/or Bailey to the bullpen, possibly also sending LeCure to AAA), likely as the long-man, but possibly as middle reliever specializing in lefties
- Despite saying he'll go to AAA, Francis decides to take another offer
Francis, Chapman and Bailey's fates are all intertwined right now, but with my suspicion that Chapman is headed for the bullpen, it's really Francis and Bailey battling for that #5 spot. I can't come around to the idea that Bailey is going to start 2012 as a reliever based on 14.2IP (to date), any more than I think Chapman should be in the big league rotation before he has a change-up. But with the Reds thoroughly shaken-up by Madson's injury, I won't be surprised by any outcome at this point.
This one's on the TV, but we get a lineup made for radio. Or for refreshing a live box score on the web. Although, there's some intrigue: it's supposedly still up in the air who has the edge in Ludwick vs. Heisey and Mesoraco vs. Hanigan. And I think it's a possibility, however unlikely, that Frazier makes the team and Franciso is shipped out for bullpen help.
Lineups after the jump.