“#1 Starter: Please Stand Up”

The Cincinnati Reds are no longer a sub 500 team or a ball club that strives to win as many as they lose.  They also are not one of those small market teams that will as they say,  “get them next year.”  One of those “teams of the future.” The Reds are a franchise that has developed the “win now” mentality that their ownership, the Castellini Family, and their General Manager, Mr. Walt Jocketty thrive on.  And I for one love the direction that this franchise is heading.  Who doesn’t love a team with ownership who cares about winning first?

July 31st is the MLB Trade Deadline.  If the Reds want to make a deep run come playoff time, they must pick up a top of the rotation starter.  A number 1 guy.  One of those pitchers that other teams cringe at the thought of facing.  Currently the Reds are in a good spot.  They are sporting a record of 20-17 and are within one game of the top spot in the NL Central.  This team has a dynamic offense, a great fielding percentage, and a winner’s mentality in the locker room.  There is only one glaring weakness.  And that once again is at the top of the rotation.

Now this team is very good.  I do think they are capable of making the playoffs with the squad they have.  But there is a difference between making the playoffs and winning in the playoffs.  Do the Reds want to take that next step from “good to great?”  I think they do.  All I do know is Edinson Volquez is not cutting the mustard as a top of rotation starter.  And to be blunt, nobody else in the rotation is either.

Arroyo has been the best of the bunch thus far.  You always know what you are going to get from the seasoned veteran.  3 to 4 good starts, and then a horrific start.  It’s a pattern with this guy.  Bailey and Cueto have not yet demonstrated consistency yet, though they have looked very good thus far this year (each have made 2 starts).  Wood and Leake have struggled mightily so far and one of them will be heading down to the Minors in the near future.

Currently on the year, Cincinnati has the 12th ranked ERA in the NL.  Pitching wins championships.  Well this is an unacceptable stat for a team looking to bring home its first title in 21 years.  Volquez is a major contributor to this weak stat line.  He is not the only one at fault, but much of the blame should be pointed in his direction.  At this time, Volquez has a very unflattering ERA of 5.74.  This is the 3rd worst on the team.  In addition he has given up 7 round trippers, tied for 2nd most on the roster.  Lastly, he walked 5 batters yesterday, to bring his total up to 33 on the year. No other guy on the Red’s entire staff has walked more than 16.  No other starting pitcher has walked more than 14. 33 walks in just over 42 innings.   Unacceptable.

Lets take a quick look at the other top teams in the National League.

-Philadelphia Phillies:  Currently all 5 of their starters have a better ERA than the Red’s #1.  In addition, their top of the rotation guy, Roy Halladay, has an ERA of 2.09.  Want to know how many walks he has thrown in over 60 innings?  Try 9.  Astounding I know.  Teams would cringe at facing any of the Phillies top 4 guys in the playoffs.  This is why they are a heavy favorite.

-St. Louis Cardinals:  Currently 4 of their starters sport a lower ERA than Edinson.  In addition, their top 2 guys, Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter (who is having a real down year thus far) have combined to throw less walks than Edinson this year.  And neither of these guys are the 2nd coming of Greg Maddux.  If you are being honest with yourself, does Cincinnati have a pitcher that is currently as good as a Jaime Garcia or a Chris Carpenter?

-Colorado Rockies:  This is the only team that has been somewhat comparable to the Reds overall staff.  There is one major difference though.  They sport an overall team ERA that is 0.64 lower than Cincinnati’s.  Plus, they have Ubaldo Jimenez.  And we all know what he is capable of when he is on his game.  He can be scary good.

I am the first guy to state that I want Edinson to do well.  The performance of Volquez could go a very long way towards determining this team’s success in making the playoffs and advancing in the playoffs.  But the truth of the matter is that this injury prone starter has a career record of 31 and 23.  A very unflattering career ERA of 4.47.  And has only made over 15 starts in a season on one occasion (never thrown 200 innings in a season).  Since the first half of 2008, what has this guy done to garner top of the rotation merit?

Edinson Volquez is by no means a #1 starter, much less a #2 at this time.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.