Scouting Report on Cincinnati Reds Ps, Cs Heading into Spring Training
The pitching staff was the strength of the 2012 Cincinnati Reds, and they only got stronger as they prepare for next season.
Spring Training is a mere 14 days away. Pitchers and catchers are getting ready to report, so it's time to see what's in store for the upcoming season.
Great starting pitching was the key to last year's division title, but the "Nasty Boys 2.0" helped close the door in relief. Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey are all coming off the best seasons of their young careers.
Aroldis Chapman will grab the headlines as he tries to become a starter, but the rest of the staff should not be overlooked.
With the way the offense struggled to consistently put up big numbers, the Reds will need the starters to repeat their 2012 performance.
Now that it's a more experienced team in 2013, the pitchers and catchers are looking to continue to be among the league's best.
*Unless otherwise noted, all stats are from ESPN.com.
2012 stats: 33 starts/2 CG, 217 IP, 19-9, 2.78 ERA
In 2010, the Reds signed Johnny Cueto to a four-year, $27 million extension. Two years later, the right-hander finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting. Not a bad deal.
Cueto is the second-oldest of the young starters in this rotation, as he will turn 27 years old shortly after reporting to camp. He is just now entering the prime of his career.
His winning percentage has gone up every year since his debut, and the amount of walks and home runs he has allowed has also decreased every season (when healthy). He allowed a career-low 15 homers in 2012, with only nine coming in 93.2 innings at Great American Ball Park.
The right-hander has quit trying to blow everyone away and learned to pitch efficiently. When runners do get on base, they don't steal on him. He has allowed only two stolen bases in two years, and nobody stole second or third when he was on the mound last season. He led all right-handers with nine pickoffs.
Cueto's twist allows him to hide the ball from the batter, and his numbers have shown how good he can be since adjusting his motion.
Assuming his oblique injury is not an issue, Cueto will be ready to make a run at the Cy Young.
2012 stats: 33 GS/2 CG, 209.1 IP, 14-4, 3.48 ERA
When the Reds made the blockbuster move to get Mat Latos from the San Diego Padres, they were hoping to get a good No. 2 pitcher. He turned out to be even better than expected.
Latos stepped up in Game 1 of the NLDS last year when Cueto got hurt, and he performed like a No. 1. It was a great performance on short notice. He reportedly (via Mark Sheldon, Adam McCalvy and Mark Clements of MLB.com) battled an illness leading up to his Game 5 start and was throwing zeros until the strike zone suddenly shrank.
He has a tendency to give up the long ball, but he can also make up for it by striking out hitters in key spots.
After a rough April, he finished the year by going 13-2. He has gone a combined 2-8 in his career in the opening month. As long as he stays healthy, the right-hander will get stronger as the year goes on.
2012 stats: 32 GS/1 CG, 202 IP, 12-10, 3.74 ERA
In what could be his final season with the Reds, Bronson Arroyo is looking to remain consistent in 2013.
Since being acquired by the team in 2006, he has never missed a start and thrown at least 199 innings in every season. He bounced back from a rough 2011 and nearly cut his home runs against in half.
Arroyo allowed only one hit in seven innings in his only postseason start last year, but he will likely be the No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the upcoming season.
As the oldest member of the rotation, he has helped the other pitchers up their games. It will be tough for any pitcher to be as consistent as Arroyo.
One positive sign from last year was the fact that he was able to avoid his usual terrible starts. In years past, he would allow eight or nine runs and be out by the fourth inning in a few starts. He didn't have any of those games last year.
Arroyo doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he knows how to pitch. By now, Reds fans know what to expect out of the veteran.
2012 stats: 33 GS/2 CG, 208 IP, 13-10, 3.68 ERA
Last year was a breakout year for Homer Bailey. It was by far the best of his career and showed why the Reds refuse to trade him.
He ranked behind only Johnny Cueto for quality starts on the team. He set personal bests in starts, complete games, innings pitched, wins, strikeouts and ERA.
For those wondering how his arm will hold up in 2013, Bailey said on Sunday at the Reds Caravan stop in Hamilton that his arm is feeling great.
The former first-round pick threw a no-hitter in late September and had a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS. Like Arroyo, he ended up allowing only one hit through seven innings.
Bailey has turned into arguably the team's best big-game pitcher. Though he pitched like a No. 1 or No. 2 for most of last season, he will be no higher than the third pitcher in this rotation to start the season.
At age 26, he has finally put it all together. In his final eight starts, he posted a 1.79 ERA. Take out a bad start the day after the team clinched the division and his ERA is down to 1.10 in the other seven starts.
Bailey's 2.32 ERA on the road was the best in baseball by a starter, so he has shown he can pitch in the big leagues. Once he learns how to pitch consistently in GABP, he will be an ace.
2012 stats: 30 GS/2 CG, 179 IP, 8-9, 4.58 ERA
After a promising 2011 season, Mike Leake took a step back in 2012. He wasn't far behind the rest of the staff in quality starts, but he had at least one start of allowing five or more runs in every month.
As of now, Leake will be battling for a roster spot. Aroldis Chapman is slated to become a starter in Leake's place. Leake may be able to earn a spot as a long reliever in the bullpen, but there may not be room for him.
It's a big spring training for the former first-round pick. He needs to show that he can overcome a disappointing season and do whatever is asked of him.
Outside of hits and slugging percentage, the rest of his numbers did not drastically drop. His ERA shot up as a result of the higher slugging percentage, but it's tough to say what went wrong.
Fans want Chapman to take his place, but Leake did a good job as a No. 5 starter. He's still learning how to pitch in the majors. It took Bailey a few seasons to put it together, so be patient with Leake.
The 25-year-old doesn't have a blazing fastball, so it will take some time to learn to pitch to contact in GABP.
2012 stats: 68 G, 71.2 IP, 38 saves, 1.51 ERA, 122 K, 23 BB
Spring is quickly approaching, and the Aroldis Chapman experiment will be underway soon.
He was without a doubt the most exciting pitcher in baseball last year and was unhittable as a closer. Outside of two weeks in June, he was the best pitcher in the majors.
Here are his earned run averages in April, May, July and August: 0.00, 0.00, 0.68 and 0.00.
The Cuban Missile was able to blow hitters away with his fastball. If he does indeed move to the rotation, he will need to use his slider more often with the occasional changeup.
Now that he has learned to limit the free passes, he has what it takes to be an effective starter.
He won't be throwing 99 miles per hour every pitch, so he needs to be able to locate his fastball more consistently. He can live around 94 mph as long as he can mix in his other pitches.
It will be interesting to see how Cincinnati manages his workload, but he will be the main attraction this upcoming season.
2012 stats (with Cincinnati): 25 G, 22.1 IP, 3-3, 4 S, 2.82 ERA
Re-signing Jonathan Broxton gives the Reds the option to move Chapman to the rotation.
He showed he could still bring the heat and be a reliable closer. The right-hander had a 0.73 ERA in September, which is when he got a chance to close.
In 13 appearances at Great American Ball Park last year, he did not allow a run. A big reason for his success was his great control. He struck out 20 batters while only walking three.
If Broxton pitches the way he did when he came over, the Reds can give Chapman a chance to settle into the rotation. He will be a vital piece to the team's success now that he will most likely be pitching in the ninth inning.
2012 stats: 73 G, 61 IP, 5-5, 9 S, 2.51 ERA
Like Broxton, Sean Marshall gives the Reds options at closer while Chapman gets a chance at starting.
Marshall learned how to pitch at GABP and managed a 1.74 ERA at home. He was like most of the other pitchers in the staff and had great control. He struck out 74 batters while walking only 16.
His breaking ball makes him a dangerous reliever, especially against lefties. He held them to a .173 average, but allowed right-handers to hit .273. He didn't allow a home run to a left-handed hitter all season.
Marshall is suited to face left-handers but he isn't too bad against right-handers. He will likely start the year as the setup man, but could move into a situational role if Nick Masset or J.J. Hoover impress early on.
2012 stats: 28 G, 30.2 IP,1-0, 1 S, 2.05 ERA
Had it not been for Chapman, rookie J.J. Hoover was arguably the team's most impressive reliever. He came over for Juan Francisco and made his major league debut in late April.
Hoover ranked second on the team in walks plus hits per innings pitched (0.98), behind Chapman. He allowed one run or fewer in five of his six months with the team.
Despite his success, he had to battle for his postseason roster spot. He did not allow a run in two appearances and has shown that no moment is too big for him.
Entering his second season, Hoover looks like a lock to make the bullpen. He outpitched Logan Ondrusek last year, but nothing is guaranteed. Because of his youth, he will need to have a good spring to secure a spot on the team.
2011 stats: 75 G, 70.1 IP, 3-6, 1 S, 3.71 ERA
Nick Masset missed all of 2012 with a shoulder injury, but he was a good setup man when healthy.
It probably wasn't much of a surprise that he got hurt, considering his workload in recent years. Since his first full season with the Reds, he pitched in 74, 82 and 75 games. That's a big workload for anyone, but the team hopes he can regain his form.
Leake, Hoover and Logan Ondrusek are all battling for spots, and Masset will be right there with them. Masset is at a disadvantage because nobody knows how his body will hold up.
When he was healthy, he had one of the league's best curveballs, with a lively fastball. He made his job easier by getting grounders to start double plays.
Masset's performance can affect Chapman as well. If he returns to being a good setup man, the team won't need Chapman back in the bullpen.
His shoulder will be the determining factor in his success, but he has the stuff to add another dynamic to this filthy bullpen.
2012 stats: 36 G. 61 IP, 3-2, 1 S, 2.66 ERA
Alfredo Simon was claimed off waivers right before the season started, and it ended up being a great pickup.
Although he was used mainly when the team was behind, he came in and kept the game within reach. He was able to go multiple innings to save the rest of the bullpen.
Simon can also bring the heat. While it doesn't seem like it's a big deal that he came in and pitched well in losses, he kept the back of the bullpen fresh.
There is a chance that he could lose his spot to Leake, but he has more experience pitching out of the bullpen. He also has better stuff than Leake, which is crucial for relievers.
2012 stats: 48 G, 57.1 IP, 3-3, 3.14 ERA
Before last season, Sam LeCure was the team's long man. The addition of Simon allowed the Reds to use him in tough situations.
He was used in big spots during the fifth and sixth innings a lot in 2012, even though he doesn't have great stuff. With everyone else in the bullpen throwing hard, he provides a nice change of pace to the staff.
He stranded 26 of 31 inherited runners when he entered the game.
LeCure is probably going to earn a spot on this team, but the battle for the final roster spots will get interesting.
2012 stats: 63 G, 54.2 IP, 5-2, 2 S, 3.46 ERA
The stats above earned Logan Ondrusek the worst numbers in the bullpen. That's just showing how good the rest of the bunch was.
He went until May 17th without allowing a run, and then his season began to fall apart while allowing five runs on that day. After allowing his first runs of the season, he did not have a month with an earned run average below 3.00 for the rest of the season.
Ondrusek's struggles got him demoted near the end of August, and it cost him a spot on the postseason roster.
He was once a reliable setup man, but control problems cost him last year. He had 39 strikeouts and 31 walks.
The tall right-hander was having a hard time of coming in without allowing a run, so he has to prove himself in spring training. He has a chance to make the squad, but it will take an impressive spring along with other people struggling.
2012 stats: 66 G, 61 IP, 6-2, 1 S, 2.95 ERA
Jose Arredondo struggled with his control, but he also has a good split-finger fastball. He averages only 1.82 strikeouts per walk.
The right-hander's .326 on-base percentage against was the third-worst in the bullpen. Simon and Ondrusek were the only relievers to have a higher percentage.
As previously noted, Sean Marshall is the only southpaw in the bullpen. However, Arredondo held left-handed batters to a .165 average in 2012. He did walk more lefties (20) than right-handers (14) though.
Once July 1st came around, he had trouble making it through consecutive appearances without allowing a run. He finished July and September with earned run averages above 5.00. Most of his appearances came while losing, and he didn't help the team's cause in those situations.
He will make the team because of his durability and his splitter. If he continues to struggle, there's a chance he could be replaced.
2012 stats: .274 average/.365 OBP, 2 HR/24 RBI, 32 of 68 caught stealing
In his first season as the primary catcher, Ryan Hanigan did a sensational job. He managed to get on base frequently enough to have fans clamor for him to be moved up in the order.
The 32-year-old's value came behind the plate. He managed to catch Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo on a consistent basis and helped Homer Bailey pitch phenomenally in his final eight starts.
Hanigan led the major leagues in several major categories. According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the 3.05 ERA for his pitchers was the lowest in the majors. He also led the league in throwing out 48 percent of base stealers, which was even better than Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.
With the way Cueto and Bailey threw to Hanigan, they will likely join Arroyo as having Hanigan as their primary catcher. Chapman appears to pitch better with Hanigan behind the plate, so he is likely to get at least four out of the five starters.
Until Devin Mesoraco improves on offense, Hanigan will see the majority of the playing time.
2012 stats: .212 avg./.288 OBP, 5 HR/14 RBI
No Red had a more disappointing season than rookie Devin Mesoraco. He was supposed to battle for the National League Rookie of the Year, but he ended up in the minors in August.
He was a solid defensive catcher and had the responsibility of catching Bailey and Mike Leake. The rookie showed signs of improvement behind the plate, so fans shouldn't worry about that aspect of his game. Bailey and Leake struggled to hold runners on, so the amount of stolen bases against Mesoraco can be misleading.
If he wants to stay in the big leagues, he needs to improve at the plate. He hit .111 with runners in scoring position and .125 with runners on base. He hit .267 with nobody on, but he needs to be able to drive in runs. Four of his five homers were solo shots.
Dioner Navarro came up in August and hit well enough to take Mesoraco's postseason roster spot.
Navarro is no longer with the team, so it's clear that Mesoraco is the backup catcher. Unless he shows he can swing the bat better, he will receive little playing time.
Pitching Staff Outlook
RHP Johnny Cueto
RHP Mat Latos
RHP Bronson Arroyo
RHP Homer Bailey
LHP Aroldis Chapman
CP Jonathan Broxton
LHP Sean Marshall
RHP J.J. Hoover
RHP Nick Masset
In the mix (two spots):
RHP Mike Leake
RHP Sam LeCure
RHP Alfredo Simon
RHP Jose Arredondo
RHP Logan Ondrusek
Leake, LeCure and Simon are all battling to be a long reliever. Leake could find himself in Louisville to get consistent outings. Arredondo has the advantage over Ondrusek because of his ability to get left-handers out.