Ryan Madson's Exit Leaves the Cincinnati Reds Pitching Staff in Turmoil

Cliff Eastham@RedsToTheBoneSenior Writer IIMarch 25, 2012

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Ryan Madson #46 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 25, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

Well, maybe "turmoil" is a strong word but it does draw your eye.

Losing a pitcher of Ryan Madson's status and qualifications is a huge deal for the Reds' brain trust. Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty can shrug their shoulders and act like it is all going to be okay, but I see them acting differently in solitude. Maybe even a little cowardly-lion action: "I do believe in spooks, I do, I do."

Do the Reds have a very good pitching staff? I thought so before everyone laced them up at Goodyear. Out of all those auditioning for a job, Aroldis Chapman, Jeff Francis and Sean Marshall are the ones who stand tallest.

With the sudden news of Madson's season-ending surgery, the Muckety Mucks in Queen City will have to go back to the proverbial drawing board and devise another plan.

Will the closer be Marshall? Could it be Chapman? How about Nick Masset? Money is on Marshall, who appeared to be the heir apparent upon Madson's departure after this season.

These are the questions just for the end of the bullpen. How about the starters?

Of the five pitchers who most had predicted would be rolled out as the rotation, only two have ERAs below 5.73 this spring. Mat Latos is pitching brilliantly and has a 2-0 record with a 1.93 ERA. The suspected opening-day starter, Johnny Cueto, is struggling with a 4.50 ERA.

The other three, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo, are pitching like it doesn't matter. Meanwhile, Francis has an ERA of 2.77 and has yet to walk a batter in 13 innings and has a sparkling WHIP of 0.92.

And while we are at it, what shall become of Chapman? The Cuban flamethrower is out-pitching everyone and one would think he has earned a spot in the rotation. Bailey has been hit like he stole something and is doing his best to keep his ERA below 8.00.

Some would like to see Chapman as the closer, some would just like to see him in the bullpen. I, on the other hand, would like to see him get his shot.

So, who do you think will join the team in Cincinnati April 5? I think Bailey is out of options, so you can bet he will be there. Arroyo makes too much money to flush it down the commode in Louisville. Leake is young, resilient and is having a very bad spring. He has options. What to do?

Sam LeCure will not make it this spring. Look for Francis to accompany the team to Great American Ball Park. Logan Ondrusek, Bill Bray, Masset, Jose Arredondo will also go to Cincinnati. Marshall will start the year as closer. You don't see a plethora of southpaw closers, but do you remember Billy Wagner?

The five men who were predestined to form the rotation will do just that. Chapman will be a late reliever, setup-style. Francis will be the long reliever and troubleshooter if (actually when) one of the starters goes down or stumbles.

What looked like one of the better pitching staffs in MLB has turned into a dog-and-pony show. You pick the dog and the pony.