When the Cincinnati Reds reach the postseason, there may be some shocking omissions from the playoff roster. Catcher Devin Mesoraco is in grave danger of being replaced by Dioner Navarro, while starting pitcher Mike Leake may have played his way out of a roster spot as well.
Leake, who has been a staple in the starting rotation all summer, maintains only a 5.69 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. On top of that, hitters are batting a robust .314 against him during that time.
Baseball teams don't use five-man rotations during the postseason, and that means one starter usually gets pushed to the bullpen. But what happens when there are better one- and two-inning options in the bullpen than that particular starting pitcher?
This is the scenario the Reds will find themselves in when they begin setting their roster for postseason play.
Cincinnati has added relief pitchers Logan Ondrusek and J.J. Hoover as well as rookie phenom Tony Cingrani to the bullpen since the rosters were expanded. All three are arguably better options than Leake when coming out of the 'pen. Even if the Reds decide to go with 12 pitchers, that leaves two guys off the roster.
Cingrani has continued right were he left off in the minors. After posting a 1.73 ERA and striking out 172 batters in 146 innings, he has given up one run in four innings and has eight strikeouts thus far with the Reds. Hoover and Ondrusek both have proven their worth in the Reds 'pen at various times throughout the season.
Despite Cingrani's great number, his season will most likely end with September. That leaves Hoover, Ondrusek, Leake and possibly Alfredo Simon all vying for that final pitcher's roster spot.
As much as it would be nice to reward Leake with a spot on the postseason roster, it may make better sense to opt for one of these other arms. After all, a championship is on the line.
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