Perhaps the only thing that could possibly match the attrition seen in the starting pitching ranks of the Cincinnati Reds over the last year or so is, fortunately, that same group’s depth. With the news yesterday of Homer Bailey’s umpteenth elbow surgery again putting him on the shelf on the eve of a new season, it’s almost worth digging back through the various arms that have both made starts for the Reds and subsequently seen their starting spots vacated due to injury, or the fear thereof.
If you’ll indulge me by allowing the oblique injury suffered by Anthony DeSclafani in early Spring Training last year to be factored in a bit prematurely here, it would have been completely reasonable for you to have suggested last February that the bulk of the 2016 Reds rotation would be comprised of, say, Raisel Iglesias, Homer Bailey, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, and Jon Moscot - especially if you factored service clock issues with other arms.
In reality, those five provided just 30 combined starts in the 2016 season, and as things currently stand, not a single one of them is a candidate for the 2017 Opening Day rotation. Add-in the 50 combined 2016 starts from the likes of Dan Straily, Alfredo Simon, Tim Melville, Josh Smith, Keyvius Sampson, and Daniel Wright - none of whom are even part of the Reds’ organization anymore - and not only is the turnover from the perceived ‘healthy’ rotation from this time last year kaput, the actual one that replaced it has been blown up, too.
Even with that pitching blender having been on puree for a calendar year, that doesn’t mean the projected Opening Day rotation isn’t rather easy to see. In fact, it’s almost a given at this point that DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman, Cody Reed, and Robert Stephenson have inside shots as the team’s starters - health willing - since injuries, inexperience, and service time issues all hamper the other candidates’ respective chances.
That’s not stopping Amir Garrett from dreaming big, however. The talented lefty (and current top pitching prospect in the system) has eyes on earning a rotation spot fresh out of spring training, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon relayed. He’s a full year older than Stephenson, Reed, and Finnegan, and will be burning his second option if he doesn’t make the team out of camp. 25 in May, Garrett still hasn’t put in a full season in AAA yet, however, and my best guess is that even if he blows the doors off Cactus League play - much like Kris Bryant did offensively last year - he’ll still end up in Louisville long enough to keep him from reaching a full year of service time in 2017 - just like what happened to Bryant. Still, he may well earn a May rotation spot with a strong March, and I’d sure as hell love to see him do just that.
Sheldon also spoke with Joey Votto about trying to lead the Reds back into contention, and while there’s nothing truly groundbreaking in the article, it’s about Joey Votto, so you should absolutely read it.
Enquirer beats Zach Buchanan and C. Trent Rosecrans recorded another episode of their podcast, and it dropped yesterday. Check it out, as well as their previous episodes, since it’s always full of great insight.
MLB is considering some stupid, idiotic, STOP CHANGING THE FREAKING GAME rule alterations, and /mlb’s Grant Brisbee ain’t having any of it. That, of course, you can tell just by his URL, but a deeper dive into the article helps elaborate the point in quintessential Brisbee fashion. Allowing - nay, encouraging MLB games that reach extra innings to be finished by a bunt and a flyout is as dumb as playing the first 9 innings with all batters starting with 0-2 counts. C’mon, Manfred. You have to be better than that.
Our resident grappler and interviewer extraordinaire, Eric Roseberry, spoke with Jonah Keri for his latest episode of On Baseball Writing, and I suggest you take a listen, especially since Jonah managed to cram two hours worth of insight into just 20 minutes.
FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik had a thought provoking take on innovation in the modern game of baseball, particularly on the identification and exploitation of market inefficiencies.
Also from FanGraphs: Dave Cameron identifying the biggest free agent still available, at least in his eyes. Considering what the Reds found out just yesterday, I hope at least someone in the front office reads Cameron’s article today, even if they don’t opt to sign a veteran arm.