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!!
No one in the Queen City knew if they liked Edwin Encarnacion. One day you would love the guy who went 3-5 and hit an upper deck home run, but the next day you would be frustrated to death when he threw a ball into the dugout trying to throw to first. The fact is that Encarnacion was never a consistent ball player and in turn was not a good player for playing winning baseball. He did not consistently perform at a high level which is required to sustain success.
Certain players are just winners and EE wasn’t really one of them. Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia: they are winners. They play winning baseball and don’t make little mistakes that can end up costing their team a game. They demand perfection from themselves and in turn from their teams.
Scott Rolen will serve as a leader for a young lineup. The Reds have really only had veteran leadership in the bullpen this year and that has been the best part of the club. Reds pitchers can also sleep a little easier as Rolen will provide great defense behind them. Rolen was hitting .320 with 8 homers and is making 11 million this year and is due to make 11 million next year.
He has had some back problems in recent years. Walt Jocketty’s first question to Blue Jays GM Ricciardi was is he healthy and he was assured he was. Rolen will most likely hit 4th or maybe 5th in the Reds lineup. Go Reds