Next Tuesday night either Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati or PNC Park in Pittsburgh will host a one game playoff between
the two NL wild card teams. One certainty is the Cincinnati Reds will be in that game; the uncertainty though is who will be on the roster.
Will Billy Hamilton be on the post season roster? Will Mike Leake be a starter or will Johnny Cueto reclaim is spot in the rotation? Major questions await the Reds over the next three days.
Since his call up Billy Hamilton has gone 13 for 13 in stolen bases attempts. Batting .429 in 14 at bats, scoring 9 runs over that period. Hamilton started in center last weekend going 3-6 in Houston. Hamilton can hit, he can run but will he be on the postseason roster?
Manager Dusty Baker has yet to make a decision regarding Hamilton. One has to assume though Hamilton’s speed would be immensely useful in the postseason. His ability to steal as well as disrupt a pitcher is second to none.
If Hamilton doesn’t make the roster though who takes his place? Does Derrick Robison get the nod? He is the only other outfielder called up this season that makes sense to include. Robinson is batting .249 this season with only 8 RBI and 4 stolen bases.
The only aspect of the game Robinson has over Hamilton is experience; having spent nearly the entire season with the big club Robinson has seen more playing time.
Billy Hamilton has to be on the postseason roster. Purely from a base running standpoint Hamilton can change a game. He has already done it this season against the Dodgers.
Derrick Robinson will unfortunately likely be left off the postseason roster, it is a shame for a young player like Robinson but he will get another shot at it.
Besides the question of Billy Hamilton, the other main question is who will be on the postseason rotation, and who will be in the bullpen?
What has been set in stone for the post eason rotation is the starting 3 pitchers. Mat Latos (14-6), Homer Bailey (11-11) and Bronson Arroyo (14-11) will all be starters. Their seasons have all been strong.
One can argue Arroyo has been sporadic this season but his postseason experience with the Red Sox and now the Reds is second to none. Latos and Bailey have post season experience from last season, plus Bailey was around for the 2010 run as well.
The question though is who will have the fourth spot in the rotation. Mike Leake has pitched the whole season for the club, his (14-7) record and 3.37ERA is second best on the team. That being said it appears Leake will likely be pushed to the bullpen for the postseason.
Cincinnati and manager Dusty Baker appear to be leaning towards former ace Johnny Cueto (5-2) for the fourth spot. Cueto has been plagued by injury this season only playing in 11 games.
Having only played in 11 games Cueto may not be in the groove of say Latos or Bailey but his arm should be incredibly fresh. His 60 innings pitched is around 140 less than the other three starters. Fatigue should not be an issue for Cueto.
With Cueto taking the final spot that means Leake will be moved to the bullpen. In his two previous postseason appearances with the Reds he has pitched out of the pen both times after a solid regular season.
The bullpen now becomes crowded with Leake moving out there. The Reds will likely carry 10 pitchers on their postseason roster although they could take 11. Who will they take is a tough question.
There are obvious locks for the bullpen. Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, Sam Lecure, JJ Hoover and Alfredo Simon are all solidly in. Manny Parra has been shaky this season, will the Reds take him or leave him in favor of Tony Cingrani.
Cingrani pitched much of the season as a starter in Cueto’s spot. Unfortunately for Cingrani he has been bit by the injury bug as well. Back spasms took him out of his last start against the Cubs on September 10th. He has pitched out of the bullpen before and has this season.
The bullpen will likely include Parra for the divisional series. Although Cingrani is likely the stronger pitcher.
The questions that the Reds have regarding their roster spots are not bad ones. Anytime you have to justify leaving a good player off the roster you are in a good position.
Cincinnati starts the postseason next Tuesday (at 8pm on TBS) in the NL wildcard game barring some sort of miraculous comeback to win the NL Central.