All eyes at Reds camp have been on the players vying for the 5th starters spot. So far the fifth starter candidates have all gotten in around 3 outings and around 6 to 9 innings. Aroldis Chapman has received most of the buzz, and rightfully so, but Matt Maloney, Justin Lehr, and Micah Owings, and long-shot Mike Leake have all been hunting that fifth spot as well.
In my opinion, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman have definitely pitched the best. Chapman so far has pitched in 3 outings and given up only 1 run. That run was a leadoff home run in his third outing and after the leadoff homer, Chapman reacted very well going 3 scoreless innings afterward and giving up no more hits while striking out 5.
Mike Leake has also pitched very well this spring. His chances were considered slim coming into Spring Training because he was just drafted by the team in the first round about 8 months ago. So far this spring, Leake has pitched in 3 games for a total of 5 innings in which he has not given up a run. He has struck out 6 while allowing only 3 baserunners. His chances of winning the fifth starter spot are still probably slim as the team will probably want to see him pitch some in the minors first, but I really like what I see from the crafty Arizona State Sun Devil. He doesn’t throw overly hard but he has 5 to 6 pitches that he can throw and throw effectively.
As for the rest of the guys, Maloney has been up and down; Lehr has struggled, and Owings has done well and could be the guy if the team thinks both Leake and Chapman could benefit from some time in the minors, but at some point, especially if the club is in contention, which I think they can be, you will see Leake and Chapman in the majors.
Also getting interesting this spring is the center field job and left field . Chris Dickerson complained earlier in the Spring that he ought to be contending for the center field job. So far he has backed up that talk with strong Spring Training numbers batting .435 so far. Drew Stubbs who is admittedly a slow starter, started slow but in his last 3 games he is 6-9 with a homer. Stubbs came in as the favorite, and still is but Dickerson is definitely opening some eyes can earning some regular season playing time (some in center and some probably as a platoon with Jonny Gomes). Jonny Gomes has faired well so far this spring and it looks as if he has a hold on being the opening day starter in left. He will probably platoon with a left handed hitter like Dickerson or Laynce Nix.
Spring Training has been interesting so far and will get even more important as the Reds move into the final 2-3 weeks before they head north to the Queen City.
Go Reds!! Time to contend!!
So far in Spring Training, I have heard nothing but good things from Reds camp. Most importantly everyone in the organization seems to be on-board with where the organization is going. And honestly I couldn’t agree more with them.
Walt Jocketty’s adding Rolen at the trade deadline last year raised some eyebrows since the team stood at well under .500. However, his addition has proved to be a good one and manager Dusty Baker has said that Rolen has had an immeasurable effect on the young players.
Veteran pitchers Arroyo and Harang also know that this is their last chance in Cincinnati. Arroyo admitted earlier in Spring Training that this may be his last chance to be on a winning team there in the Queen City. Should the Reds be out of contention come the July 31st trade deadline, Harang and Arroyo both could be on the move.
All Reds fans and I hope that that situation never arises, but for the first time, I would be all right with moving Harang or Arroyo because of the Reds incredible pitching depth, and losing 20-24 million in salary cap would allow Walt Jocketty to improve the team in any way he wanted. I do not think the Reds would miss a beat with their young pitchers that might replace them.
I have ranked the Reds pitching depth below:
1. Edinson Volquez (will probably miss most or all of 2010 with Tommy John)
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Aaron Harang
4. Johnny Cueto (potential is limitless; he has ace-like skills)
5. Homer Bailey (same story great potential. Looking to build on strong 2009 finish)
5. Aroldis Chapman (yet another potential ace)
6. Micah Owings
7. Matt Maloney (maybe actually has the inside track on 5th starters spot to open 2010)
8. Mike Leake
9. Travis Wood
10. Justin Lehr
11. Mike Lincoln (I definitely would rather see him in the bullpen than in the rotation)
By simply looking at the following list, you can se why Reds fans are excited. I believe the Reds are a team on the rise and have a great chance of finding some sustained success in the future simply because of the enormous potential in their pitchers alone.
I’m excited. Go Reds!!