For the majority of the early 2014 season, everyone was trying to figure out what was wrong with Homer Bailey. For the Cincinnati Reds, at least publicly, the concern was not there. After all, Bailey had missed Spring Training time due to injuries. He was the only chink in the armor for the Reds’ starting rotation in the first quarter of 2014.
That is why Bailey’s performance on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies should give fans a huge sigh of relief. Allowing just one run in just over seven innings, Bailey held the best offensive team in baseball at bay to earn his third win of the season. The importance of an effective Bailey is indisputable for the Reds. With Johnny Cueto displaying his Cy Young-worthy repertoire at the front of the rotation, a successful Bailey can help stabilize arguably one of the best rotations in baseball.
With the struggles of the Reds’ bullpen being more prevalent than in recent years, Cincinnati is relying more on their starters to go deeper into ballgames. Bailey joins Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Alfredo Simon as horses in a rotation who can easily take the pressure off of a struggling bullpen.
Additionally, the loss of Mat Latos for an extended period of time this season has put the pressure on the rest of the Reds’ rotation to fill the void left by an ace-worthy pitcher. As Bailey has shown in the past two years, he has the ability and potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. By living up to that potential, he not only helps to fill the void left by Latos, but he makes the team even stronger when Latos returns.
Thanks to the $100 million offseason contract, Bailey will be under even more scrutiny than he was before. Since being drafted by Cincinnati, the pressure has been on Bailey to consistently perform at a high level. Fair or not, those will be the expectations for him as long as he is a member of the Reds.
Everyone knows the Reds will go as far as their pitching can take them in 2014, and Bailey’s effectiveness on the mound will go a long way to help define that success.