For the last five years, we Cincinnati Reds fans have been wondering when Homer Bailey would put together that monster season the organization thought he'd be capable of when they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft.
Before every season begins, there's a bevy of articles claiming that this will be the year he does it, and at the end of each season we're left confused and disappointed. We're now preparing to enter the 2012 season and Bailey is entering his age 26 season. I'm convinced that this truly will be the year where Bailey shines.
In a previous article, I stated that Bailey would win 14 games this season, and while he certainly has the talent to do it, he's yet to prove to us fans that he truly can.
So here we sit in 2012, eight years after the arrival of Bailey and my biggest question about him is: Is this Homer's last chance with the organization?
To answer my own question, I believe so. I think I represent the opinion of most Reds fans when I say that the organization rushed him through the minors.
However, Bailey has been given every opportunity to earn a guaranteed spot in the rotation and he's yet to win that. Bailey shows occasional glimpses of brilliance on the mound. Take for example this outing on May 12, 2010 where Bailey took on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bailey went all nine innings, allowed zero runs on four hits, no walks and six strikeouts all while throwing just 90 pitches and faced only 29 batters (two over the minimum). Although the Pirates were terrible in 2010, Bailey's performance was still very impressive.
As great as that May 12 outing was, just one start before it he pitched against the Chicago Cubs and went four innings, allowed seven runs on five hits and five walks while throwing 94 pitches. The Reds lost that game, 14-7.
Bailey is easily the most frustrating pitcher in the Reds starting rotation (that position was most recently occupied by mush-brain Edinson Volquez). Bailey's got five great pitches and all the talent of a great front-end guy, but something just hasn't clicked yet.
I think this is the year Bailey finally does it, but I'm willing to go on the record now and tell you that if he struggles, it will be his last year in Cincinnati.