We all remember the horror show that was Jimmy Haynes, the maddening inconsistencies of Kyle Lohse, and the general awfulness of Eric Milton.
Looking at what this franchise has now, that seems like a long-ago era.
Quality arm after quality arm is being pumped out by this organization, to the point where Homer Bailey and Aaron Harang may not have starting rotation jobs for the rest of the season.
Remember, Aaron Harang used to be our ace, and though he's not what he once was, he's still an adequate pitcher that is capable of being a No. 3 starter for many teams. Just not this one.
As for Homer Bailey, he's 24 with a great arm. Sorry, Mr. Bailey, but you gotta wait your turn.
Too much pitching? Well, that's like complaining about too much food to choose from at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
As of right now, the rotation is led by the experienced and savvy Bronson Arroyo. He never gets hurt, and never gets tired. He will have a disaster outing from time to time, but you pretty much know exactly what you will get out of this vet, who has seen it all.
Behind him, Johnny Cueto is putting together a banner year. We saw the potential in 2008, grew impatient as he went through the struggles that young pitchers do, and are now reaping the benefits.
Rookies Travis Wood and Mike Leake have also been key elements to this staff. Leake is falling off a bit, and may end up being the most likely candidate to be replaced. In terms of innings and workload, he's entering an area in which he's never been.
Remember, he's had zero minor league experience. A straight jump to the pros from college.
Unlike Leake, the book isn't out on Wood yet. He's yet to face the same team twice.
He seems to be a guy who never gets rattled. A country boy from Arkansas, he approaches the game with a workmanlike effort. No messing around.
Then, there is Edinson Volquez. This guy is a real "wild card." I have no doubt he will be a future player in this rotation, but there are times when it has appeared that maybe 2010 isn't the year for that.
Great against Colorado, and has struggled a bit since then.
Remember, he's coming off Tommy John surgery. It may take him some time to come around.
Still, any time he takes the ball, he is capable of doing what he did against Colorado.
So, there you have it: Arroyo, Cueto, Leake, Wood, and Volquez.
Arroyo and Cueto appear to be set. Should the Reds make the playoffs, those are the guys I want in the first two games.
Should the others falter, the aforementioned Bailey and Harang can step in. Additionally, guys like Sam LeClure and Matt Maloney are solid pitchers who have done good work in limited spots this year. Don't forget about them.
Oh yeah, and there's also some guy named Aroldis Chapman. Perhaps you have heard of him.
He looks about ready to go, and while he may not figure in the rotation plans for 2010, no hitter can like the idea of trying to hit a guy that can throw it 103 mph.
This organization has not only done an outstanding job of fielding a rotation capable of winning a division this season, but the work of Walt Jocketty, and those behind the scenes, had the foresight to build for the future, as well.
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