The 2018 season has been another disappointing one for the Cincinnati Reds. With a 56-75 record heading into Monday’s games, they’re not only occupying the National League Central basement, but they’re also nearing a fifth consecutive losing season.
With all this in mind, it’s important to find some potential positives for a club that’s been trying to rebuild.
One positive is that Cincy has turned things around following a horrific start. The Reds lost 15 of 18 games to begin this year, which also led to manager Bryan Price getting fired and Jim Riggleman taking over on an interim basis. Since that’s happened, they’ve gone 53-60. Not exactly ideal, but it’s better than being 19 games under .500.
The other positive is that Cincinnati would be just about a .500 team if Homer Bailey didn’t start any games. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but winning a ballgame in which Bailey starts has become an increasingly rare occurrence for the Reds.
It’s not like the bullpen always blows the game, though. Merely leaving a contest with a lead in hand has been difficult over the past calendar year.
This is just the latest chapter in a sad story about a pitcher who appeared to have plenty of potential. Between 2011 and 2014, the right-hander posted a 42-34 record with a 3.77 ERA, 3.65 SIERA, 20.7% strikeout rate, and 6.4% walk rate through 694.2 innings of work.
The Reds also thought the best was yet to come for Bailey, as they signed him to a six-year, $105 million deal prior to the 2014 season. But then he finished that year on the disabled list, needed Tommy John surgery the next year, and as Drake would say, nothing was the same.
Since returning in July of 2016, he’s thrown just 210.1 innings and has limped to a 9-24 record with a 6.33 ERA, 4.86 SIERA, 16.4% strikeout rate, and 8.1% walk rate.
While his 96.1 innings pitched this season are the most he’s tossed since 2014, that’s where the warm and fuzzies end. When looking at starters with at least 90 innings in 2018, Bailey ranks among the worst in strand rate (66.9%), homers allowed per nine innings (1.96), ERA (6.17), hard-hit rate allowed (42.0%), and fWAR (-0.3).
He’s due to make $23 million in 2019, which is the final guaranteed year of his deal (there’s a $25 million mutual option for 2020). Regardless of whether he remains in the starting rotation or not, Bailey has his work cut out for him with regard to regaining a sliver of his old form.
About Matt Musico
Matt currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.