Five Burning Questions for the Cincinnati Reds in 2016

Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

Source: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

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.

2 Responses

  1. Carl Insco

    Nice article Brandon. I find it amusing that you said of Suarez when describing his experience: “with a paltry .242 AVG”. Given the fact that it looks like the Reds will have Hamilton, Cozart and Bruce (1/3 of the lineup) as starters, a .242 average looks awesome. Let’s face the facts: Hamilton cannot and probably will never be able to hit and will never or should never be a lead off hitter, Bruce has lost his mojo and should have already been traded giving someone valuable experience and Cozart has never been a high average hitter and even though he started off last season hot he was beginning to tumble like a rock right before his injury. It is sad when 1/3 of your lineup everyday can’t hit their weight. Sure it is nice to have the gold glove type defense of Hamilton and Cozart or the speed of Hamilton or the HR power of a Bruce, but man they have to get on base more and cut down on the SO. Hey I’m all for the rebuild, but they need to trade Cozart and Bruce to add to the rebuild. I would give Hamilton one more year and if he doesn’t improve then either trade him or send him to the bench as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. As far as Bailey goes….well they screwed up giving him the big contract instead of Cueto! He is nothing more than a .500 pitcher with injury concerns. Sure the 2 no hitters were exciting, but I’d rather have a healthy pitcher with an above .500 average.

    • Brandon Shrider

      I couldn’t agree more, Carl. Cozart has never been an offense-first player, and despite a nice start last season, I don’t expect that to change. I’ve never been a fan of Bruce, but he did have a nice run from 2010-13 hitting 30+ HR in three of those four years. Always seemed to be too inconsistent and unreliable to get the big hit. Hamilton, possibly switching back to RH-only could prove beneficial. I doubt he ever hits .300, but I think he can improve enough not to be a liability, and his OBP will prove crucial — maybe he’ll improve on taking walks.
      And definitely agree on the Homer deal. I said that from the time they signed him. The Reds are paying him like an ace, but hasn’t proven to be much more than a No. 3 starter who can’t stay healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this rebuild goes, with Bruce, Votto and Phillips all possibly on their way out if the Reds can find any takers … and the players waive their NTC’s which I think Phillips and Votto both have.


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