We are, among a few other things, all waiting for Homer Bailey to return from Tommy John surgery. He is after all supposed to be both the veteran on the staff and perhaps the ace. For years, he has been the number-three starter on a team with great pitching. But I want you to consider something: I want you to consider the possibility that by the time September rolls around, Bailey may be just the fifth-best starting pitcher in the rotation. And no, I’m not joking.
Start easy. Raisel Iglesias. Yes, of course, there is the DL trip that was just announced, but Iglesias has been outstanding for the Reds since debuting last year. Over a full season, he could conceivably put up All-Star caliber numbers.
Anthony DeSclafani hasn’t made his debut yet this season, but last year, he was the best pitcher to spend a full year with the team. Further, he generated 3.2 wins above replacement in his first full year in the big leagues. A totall Bailey has only topped once in his career.
Now, we get to the real wunderkinds. Robert Stephenson has already made a couple of spot starts for the Reds but doesn’t figure to become a full-fledged member of the rotation until June at the earliest. As I’m sure you all know by now, he projects as a number one or two starter based on his excellent fastball and good off-speed pitches.
Last is Cody Reed, who I happened to see pitch in Louisville yesterday. All he did was pitch 7 innings on 79 pitches, strike out five, walk one, and allow one lonely hit. He sat at 94-95 mph all night and looked generally awesome.
Now, I’m not claiming that I know for certain all of these guys will pan out. I don’t. But they all could, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if any of them ended up better than Homer. And this is not a knock on Bailey, who is a very good major league pitcher. I haven’t even mentioned a number of other prospects, either: Moscot and Lamb and Lorenzen and Garrett, for instance. All of whom could make an impact this year or next.
The point is not what Bailey lacks, but rather what the Reds have, which is a serious stable of young arms—even if they don’t all stay healthy—that should make the rotation for the 2017 Reds a much nicer sight than what we’re getting from the current slate.
Jason Linden is a contributor to Nuxhall Way, Redleg Nation, and The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.