What to expect from Homer Bailey?
Following three consecutive sub-4.00 ERA seasons from 2012-14, Bailey missed the end of the 2014 season due to a right elbow flexor mass injury which eventually required offseason surgery. Then two starts into 2015, sporting a 5.56 ERA, Homer was forced to miss more time as Tommy John surgery ended his season. The rotation’s vacancy paired with the eventual trades of Cueto and Leake, meant a litany of young arms were afforded crucial major league experience, but assuming he’s healthy, Bailey will be expected to anchor the Reds’ 2016 staff.
Like it or not, 2012 and ’13 were Bailey’s only two healthy seasons and the only two times he’s topped 200 innings in a season. Coming off of two arm surgeries and entering his age-30 season, he is far from a sure-thing. While it’s not out of the question for Bailey to return to his 2013-form that prompted Cincinnati to sign him to a six-year, $105 million contract, it certainly isn’t probable. Despite being the Reds’ first-round pick and No. 7 overall back in 2004, Bailey has struggled to live up to his elite-prospect billing. He did appear to turn somewhat of a corner in 2012, 13 and 14 pre-injury, but to expect anything greater than that would be reckless.
Something along the lines of a 3.70-4.00 ERA and a 1.25-1.35 WHIP is most likely, and without any assurance that he starts 30+ games. But if he can provide solid production for much of the season, while mentoring some of the young arms as Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo did for him, it could prove a successful season in the eyes of Cincinnati.