When Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey was called up to make his major-league debut on Friday, June 9, it was perhaps the most hyped debut by a Red in franchise history. One blogger even went as far as stating: "When Homer was called up from Louisville, the Ohio River parted."
Coming into the season Bailey, who was drafted seventh overall in 2004, was ranked second amongst minor-league pitching prospects, behind only New York Yankees starter Philip Hughes. While the talent is not over-estimated, much of the hype that surrounds Bailey can be attributed to the fact that he is the first pitcher drafted by the Reds in the first round to make his major league debut since C.J. Nitkowski in 1994.
His long-awaited first start was not an easy outing as the Reds faced one of the major league's best offenses in their intrastate rival, the Cleveland Indians. While Bailey pitched effective enough to notch his first career win, he displayed a raw natural talent that is still in need of polishing. He demonstrated his power arm and tremendous fastball by consistently hitting 95-96 mph, while also boasting an effective two-seam fastball, which was consistently clocked at 90-92 mph. While he was very effective with his power repertoire, he was unable to effectively locate his off-speed pitches and found himself working behind in the count more often than not, throwing 114 pitches in only five innings.
While Bailey wasn't able to consistently locate his off-speed pitches, there should only be moderate reason for concern. Bailey's curveball, which he used sparingly, has tremendous break. He has shown the ability to throw it with control at the minor league level. His change-up however is a work in progress as he throws it by gripping the ball with his pinkie and ring finger in order to attempt to slow the ball due to his fast arm speed, which is quite unorthodox. Bailey projects as a quality No. 1 pitcher for years to come, but he is still developing and will take some time adjusting to the major league level.
Bailey is available in 66 percent of fantasy leagues polled, but if in a redraft league, look to sell high on Homer Bailey while the hype is still there. While he projects to be a tremendous pitcher, he is still developing his arsenal and will walk quite a few batters, raising his WHIP. He will also be on a strict pitch count for the remainder of the season as the Reds will continue to coddle him. Bailey should have good strikeout ratios but expect him to end with a 4-plus ERA and a WHIP over 1.30. The Reds also boast one of the leagues worst bullpens and have the second-worst record in baseball, meaning wins will be hard to come by.
Bailey is making his second start at home on Thursday against the American League West-leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim meaning you should probably give him another trial run before inserting him into your lineup.
About Aaron Adams
Aaron has been with KFFL since 2007.
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