Assuming the Reds do not trade away any of their pitchers, the impending return of Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey to the team poses an interesting problem. If they come back healthy, what do the Reds do with them?
A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue. The Reds didn’t really have too many viable options because none of their prospects were really ready. So necessity would have dictated that they immediately return to the rotation. That’s not the case anymore. Now the Reds have a group of young, talented guns who are able to step up, and they have proven, thus far, that that are ready to stay in the rotation.
You also have to take into account that Harang’s numbers have been more indicative of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter than that of an ace for the last two-and-a-half seasons or so.
And even though Bailey had a very nice second half last season, in the 50 innings he pitched this year before going on the disabled list, he was simply awful, giving up 41 walks and posting an ERA of 5.51.
So, what should the Reds do? We already know they want to keep Mike Leake’s innings to a restricted number, and Edinson Volquez, while not sharp at all his last two outings, did flash some brilliance in his first start upon his return. Bronson Arroyo has been steady and dependable, Johnny Cueto is having a fantastic year, and Travis Wood (along with Leake) has been doing a fine job as well.
I’m hoping Volquez returns to form, and if that happens, perhaps Harang takes a spot start from Leake and we re-evaluate.
But where does that leave Bailey? Maybe the better question should be: Which two Reds starters are best capable of going from starter to bullpen?