The Next Great Rotation Blossoming in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Reds announced Sunday December 8th that former closer and power pitcher Aroldis Chapman would become a starting pitcher next season and will join Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey in the Reds’ rotation.

Before this move the Reds already had an adequate rotation that played a large part in the Reds’ ability to win the N.L. Central last season.

Now with the added heat of Chapman’s fastball to the rotation, this Reds’ pitching staff has gotten better and scarier. However, with the move of Chapman to the rotation, that means that struggling fifth starter from last year, Mike Leake, now doesn’t have a definite role on the team. While no official announcement has been made on Leake’s role for next season, it appears now that he is out of the starting rotation and may have to start the year in the bullpen.

The good news for Leake, and the rest of the Cincinnati Reds’ organization and fan base, is that of all the pitchers previously mentioned minus Arroyo, are all under the age of 27. That means this squad of five young pitchers, including Leake, still have plenty of time left in their careers to cement this Reds’ pitching staff as one of the best in history.

As the San Francisco Giants showed us baseball fans this past season, pitching is the most important part of winning a World Series. The Giants were able to be crowned as the best team in the world despite their lack of offensive power because of how good their pitching staff was. This has also been seen in the past when the 1990’s Atlanta Braves featured starting pitchers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz, who were all considered the best of their time and were a large reason the Braves won the World Series in 1995.

With the steroid era gone and power numbers dropping, baseball is becoming a pitchers game again. Looking at a list of the past 10 World Series Champions it shows that good pitching is needed to win championships. The talent seen on the Reds’ pitching staff today shows the potential to reach not necessarily the individual accomplishments of the Giants and Braves’ pitchers, but no doubt have the opportunity to have the same team success as those two because of their pitching rotation.

The Reds not only have a young up and coming pitching rotation, they already have accomplished players in the field that will continue to help this team win. First Basemen Joey Votto has been an All-Star the past three seasons including an MVP Award in 2010. Outfielder Jay Bruce is another position player that has the ability to hit for power as he did this past season when he won the N.L. Silver Slugger Award.

The move of Chapman to the starting rotation is one that will be scrutinized all year long because of the great success he had last year as the closer. However, over the long run, if the Reds are able to keep their main pieces intact, this move should help the team improve and better their chances at a World Series title.