Until the Cincinnati Reds‘ starting rotation completely deteriorates, the Reds will have the upper hand in the NL Central because their starting pitching is that strong. The other three teams vying for the division title — Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates — do not have the guns on the mound that the Reds have in Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey.
The Reds’ starters have held opponents to the lowest batting (.233) among all NL starting staffs and are tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for lowest starting staff WHIP at 1.15. The 3.31 ERA for the Reds starters is third lowest in the league and is likely to remain the lowest in the NL Central.
The Reds have two of the top five starters in the NL in ERA with at least 17 starts in Cueto and Simon but need more form Bailey, whose 4.21 ERA ranks him 39th of 48 qualifying starters for worst in the league between Roberto Hernandez and Wade Miley.
If Bailey can regain the form that Reds’ ownership thought warranted a six-year, $105-million deal and Latos can continue to build upon the success he’s had in just six starts in 2014, the Reds will have the starting pitching to keep the team in every game.
Without Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the lineup for the foreseeable future, the Reds are going to have to bank on their starting pitchers more than ever. Any injury or drop off in performance by any of the starters would have a magnified negative impact if the Reds’ offense struggles to score without Votto and Phillips.
The other NL Central teams could significantly boost their starting staffs via trade and that could lessen the significance of the starting pitching edge for the Reds, but as long as the Reds’ hitters find ways to score, the Reds’ starters should prevail more often than not.