Pitcher Homer Bailey: Why the Cincinnati Reds Hold on to Him

steve triplettContributor IDecember 13, 2011

HOMER BAILEYPatrick McDermott/Getty Images

Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey has been on the verge of breaking through for two seasons now.

Many want to give up on the Texan drafted by the Reds out of high school. Bailey struggled in 2011 with injuries. Strangely at age 25 he is not a kid anymore. He has three full seasons under his belt, but has been disappointing with his consistency. For his career in the bigs he is 25-23 with a 4.89 ERA. Hardly numbers anyone could get excited about.

But Bailey has shown huge potential after the Reds drafted him. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft out of La Grange (Texas) High School. He had velocity in the upper 90s. If you watch Bailey on a consistent basis you see a world of talent. Oftentimes, though,  Bailey's over-competitiveness gets the best of him.

During the second half of the 2009 season it was clear the Reds had something special as he dominated all comers. He allowed three runs or less in his final nine starts of the season. With this great finish he still had mediocre stats posting a non-stellar 4.53 ERA in 113 13 innings.

That's the season when I saw the true potential this young man had. I had loaded up on tickets the last half of the 2009 season expecting the Reds to battle for a pennant. That didn't happen, but instead I watched  Bailey pitch some terrific baseball. During this hot streak, he had very few if any mental lapses. There were no physical breakdowns. He just flat out dominated. The type of pitching Cincinnati hadn't seen for a while.

Then the shoulder ailments began in 2010 and continued to start the 2011 season. There were times in 2011 when Bailey pitched like an all-star only to make one mistake. Out of Great American Small Park it would fly, oftentimes costing him the game. These mental lapses ever so slight would get exacerbated by his competitive nature. Until he gets control of these lapses he will never be more than mediocre. 

This will be a make-or-break season for the young "fire-baller." If he does not find consistency, he may well be looking for it on another team. That might not be a bad thing for Homer Bailey.