It’s a problem every team wishes they had: too many starting pitchers.
With Homer Bailey set to return sometime early this month, and Aaron Harang expected back shortly after, the Reds are going to have a surplus at starting pitcher.
Without Bailey and Harang, the Reds have not missed a beat. Rookie Travis Wood has been far better than could have ever been expected. In seven starts, the rookie has posted a 2.42 ERA and a 2-1 record.
The return of Edinson Volquez off the DL has also benefitted the Reds. Since his return, the former all-star has faired alright, earning two wins in four tries and posting a 6.35 ERA.
With their returns imminent, baring injury the Reds will have seven capable starting pitchers. This being the case, something is going to have to give.
We can say with almost complete certainty that Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake will remain in the rotation.
Cueto and Leake both hold earned run averages under 3.6 and Arroyo has playoff experience too valuable to lose.
That leaves two spots for four pitchers. To me, Travis Wood has to stay on the staff.
He has been the Reds’ best pitcher for the last month and even threw eight perfect innings against the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies on July 10.
The last spot would likely come down to either Harang or Bailey. Harang, who has been the ace on the Reds’ staff for the past several years, has a 6-7 record and a 5.02 ERA in 2010.
Bailey is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA.
The next question will be what to do with the two that don’t make the rotation.
The obvious solution is to temporarily turn them into relievers and use them out of the pen. This would provide a significant upgrade for an already decent group of relievers.
Another option would be to try and work a trade. With the trade deadline already passed however, the player the Reds were looking to trade would have to clear waivers in order to be moved.
Because of his large salary and underwhelming 2010 performance, Aaron Harang would be the most viable trade option for the Reds because he would likely be the easiest to clear waivers. However, what the Reds could get in return for Harang may be minimal.
Moving to a six-man rotation could also be an option for the Reds. Though it is rare, there have been a few teams that have used a six-man rotation in recent years.
However, it is unlikely the Reds would go down that path.
The final option would be to keep a couple guys in the minors.
The most likely candidates for this move would be Travis Wood, Edinson Volquez or Homer Bailey.
While all of these options are practical, I think the best option for the Reds is to move Edinson Volquez and Homer Bailey to the bullpen for the remainder of the season and then look to make a trade during the off-season.
This would provide Cincinnati with two inning-eaters who could come in and get outs when called upon.
That is something that could be invaluable down the stretch and in the playoffs.<!--EndFragment-->