With four spots set in the Cincinnati Reds rotation, one spot is left up for grabs. That spot should be decided after tonight's spring training game. The final spot could go to either Mike Leake or Travis Wood. Neither pitcher has experience in the majors, but both have had been decent in spring training. Leake, the likely front-runner, has thrown 12 innings this spring, giving up four runs and striking out eight. Wood, who pitches tonight in the second half of a split-squad game, has thrown 14 innings, giving up four runs and striking out 12. Leake has more experience in the minors, which is why he is being considered over Wood at this point.
At the start of training camp there was a lot of hype surrounding Aroldis Chapman, the phenom free agent that defected from Cuba to join the Reds. There was a lot of speculation that he could end up taking that fifth spot in the rotation if he performed well in spring training. All signs pointed to that being a reality until Chapman suffered a minor back injury while pitching in a game a couple weeks ago. The Reds are being very cautious with him and rather than throwing them to the wolves right out of the gate, it looks like Chapman will start in the minors and work his way up to the big leagues. In all likelihood, Chapman will be up with the club at some point this season.
With the rotation almost set, all eyes will turn to Aaron Harang, who will start his fifth straight Opening Day for the Redlegs. He's struggled this spring giving up 16 runs in 13.2 innings (9.88 ERA). Harang struggled down the stretch last year and with the way his spring has gone, there is cause for concern. While spring stats don't typically mean much when it comes to veterans, an almost 10.00 ERA is not something to be taken lightly or looked over. Harang is supposed to be the ace of the rotation followed by Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto, both of which have been decent this spring and should transfer over into the regular season just fine. Homer Bailey has also had a good spring and as long as he can remain consistent and stay under control, this could be the year he finally lives up to the hype that surrounded him a few years ago when the Reds drafted him. Its Harang that the fans in Cincy are worried about. He will toe the rubber against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day, where he will try to finally get the Reds started off on a winning note to the season.
As it stands, the Reds starting rotation looks like this to start the 2010 season:
1. Aaron Harang
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Johnny Cueto
4. Homer Bailey
5. Mike Leake/Travis Wood