The death of Homer Bailey: Major League pitcher may have been a bit premature. The Cincinnati Reds right handed pitcher has not had an ideal situation over the last few seasons. Since signing his extension with the organization he’s had three surgery. The first was to repair a torn flexor mass in his pitching arm. Then he wound up needing Tommy John surgery. The next year he would need to have bone spurs removed from his pitching elbow. I’m sure if Homer Bailey never sees another day of rehabbing anything, he’ll be a happy man.

But, with all of the time missed, and some of the struggles with consistency that he had in the 2017 season when he did return, many were quick to write him off moving forward. At that point it had been a long time since the 2012-2014 version of Homer Bailey was showing himself as a #2 caliber starting pitcher in the Major Leagues.

In 2017 he would throw 91.0 innings with a 6.43 ERA, 42 walks, 11 home runs allowed, and he struck out 67 batters. None of those numbers were very good, though his home run rate wasn’t bad – especially given the home ballpark and the juiced baseball. His walk rate was the worst he had posted since the 2008 season as a 22-year-old. His strikeout rate, too, was the lowest since the 2008 season. He looked very much like a pitcher who had thrown a total of 34.1 innings since the middle of 2014.

This season, Homer Bailey has made four starts, and on the surface, he’s been the Reds best starter. He’s posted a 3.42 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched. He’s allowed two home runs and walked eight batters – with one being intentional. That’s also come with 16 strikeouts. The strikeout rate is lower than it was in 2017. But, the walk rate is also significantly lower than it was in 2017, and that’s quite important. While we are dealing with a very small sample size, his walk rate is where it has been in the past when he’s been a quality big league starter.

The days of Homer Bailey: Strikeout Pitcher, well, they are probably over. It’s still early, and it’s certainly been cold a few times already, but it doesn’t seem like Bailey is the same guy who could sit at 95 and touch 98 like we would see from him in 2013 and 2014 (thought he did top out at 97.8 MPH in one game last season). In three of his four starts he’s averaged 93 MPH, and on Sunday it was 93.6 MPH according to Brooks Baseball. The cold night in Pittsburgh saw his fastball average just 91.5 MPH. That game, at least so far, seems to be the outlier to his comeback.

The rotation for the Reds is rather young. Luis Castillo is 25-years-old. So is Brandon Finnegan. Sal Romano is 24. Tyler Mahle is 23. And then there’s Homer Bailey, who is 32. He’s the only pitcher with more than one full season of starting under his belt in the Major Leagues. He’s the veteran of veterans by comparison to the rest of the rotation.

While the contract and money means that Homer Bailey was likely going to remain in the rotation for a while, his early performance suggests he belongs there. If he an keep his walk rate low, and find a way to increase his strikeout rate even a little bit moving forward, there’s a chance he could be a quality starting pitcher once again. That is, of course, if he can remain healthy and pitching. With Bailey, and generally speaking, the Reds pitchers in general, that’s an enormous question. But early on, there are signs of hope when it comes to what he’s doing on the mound.


26 Responses

  1. Tony

    Homer looks great and I’m happy for him because he’s been through a lot. As Doug surmised Homer is probably not going to regain all his velocity but I would bet as he gets his legs firmly under him and the weather warms up he’ll gain a tick or two on his fastball. It’s certainly a positive but I’m not sure what it means for the Reds moving forward other than possibly a candidate to be traded at the deadline?

    • Champ Summers

      if the gun is correct at GABP he was hitting 94 in the 6th. Not bad. He hit 95/96 prior to the injuries. If he has 94 in the bag he can be incredibly effective

      • MuddyCleats

        Agree, but I think his slider is key 2 his success. I don’t think he trusted his arm 2 throw it hard last season; this yr , he has

  2. Hoyce

    I will consider this year a win if the reds can trade meso at the trade deadline. (Or give away,I should say) and the reds can unload homer without eating more than $10M of his remaining salary. Even if that means nothing in return. Let the youngsters take their lumps again- because this year is already toast. Hopefully a SS, CF and a 2B either step up from within the organization. Or are found via trade from outside. I think Stephenson (C) is looking very promising. And of course Siri and shed long are promising. But I still think SS needs to be a priority target this season or off season via trade.
    Rant over

    • Colt Holt

      Why not hold onto Homer? If he is effective, pitching is not exactly the Reds strong suit right now…

  3. Champ Summers

    Homer may not be a great interview. He’s never going to get Mr Congeniality of the clubhouse. In the past he rubbed some the wrong way. That said he’s the latest punching bag for Reds internet “fans”. He signed a big contract. Yep. I would have signed it too. He was the first pitcher in the Reds stable of starters to hit FA. They made him an offer and it was a fair offer based of past performance. Maybe he never lived up to all the impossible hype but he was a solid major league pitcher and he wanted to stay in Cincinnati. I’m guessing representation for Leake and Cueto made it clear they were going to test the market. In retrospect, the injuries made the deal look awful. The Mesoraco deal looks awful. Why aren’t Red’s fans treating him like they treat Bailey? Because Bailey isn’t Mr Nice guy? Do you know guys from Texas? He’s par for the course. Anyway, I’m rooting for this guy. As a fan we need this guy to be a stabilizing force. We need him to earn the last couple years of the big deal he signed. I think he feels obligated to do just that. I pull for the guy. What choice do I have?

    • Doug Gray

      The difference between Bailey and Mesoraco is the cost of the contract.

      Joey Votto’s been one of the best baseball players alive for his entire Major League career. Yet you hear, often, the first thing out of peoples mouths talking about just how much money he makes. It’s not the attitude. It’s literally just the amount of money.

      • Chris

        Do you honestly think, especially at this given time, the Reds ought to pay one player $20m+ a year, and still paying him that 5-6 years from now in a foolish back-loaded contract?

      • Doug Gray

        His contract isn’t backloaded at all.

        When the Reds signed him to an extension they couldn’t foresee 2018 looking like this. But, at the time, Homer Bailey was worth every bit of $20M a year. Problem was that he had to stay healthy and perform like he had been to get that all. And he didn’t.

      • Chris

        Thanks Doug, but I meant to reference JV and his contract. I agree with you on most of what you post and you do an incredible job. That being said, I have to empathize with Marty B and anyone else who things it’s wise for this organization to commit over 10 years 200m to one player. If anyone would be willing to pay him, the Reds and their rebuild would benefit from a July move.

      • Doug Gray

        Joey Votto is worth 40M a year. You aren’t going to replace his production with the money and come out ahead unless you somehow land a star player in return who hasn’t reached free agency yet (which you aren’t getting for Votto).

    • Hoyce

      U can’t have someone making 22% of team payroll that is ineffective because of performance or injury. And the reds are low payroll to boot- no room for error. While homer isn’t likeable-I agree. It has nothing to do w that. If he goes 20-0 w a 1.50 era. He could be the biggest DB ever – I wouldn’t care.

    • MK

      Any negative reputation Homer has he has created for himself. Practically every minor league stop he had he is not remembered fondly by the fans of those teams. That being said, the Reds constantly bring in discarded veteran starters to provide leadership for the young guys. I would much rather have Homer fill that role. Hopefully his arm issues are behind him. In a couple years when they have turned corner they are still going to need that veteran consistent innings eating starter. Forget about the money and lets pencil him in.

  4. North Bergen Red

    Homer pitched a great game , he saved the bullpen arms and kept the Reds in the game. I would have left Amir in the game to finish because he brought a spark to the team when he came in. Price was managing a good game until he took Amir out and then had Winker to pinch run. Come on man!!!

  5. Bill

    Homer Bailey is delivering everything we could hope for so far this year. His injury history and contract will make him very tough to trade for someone of significant value. Let’s hope he continues to put the Reds in the position to win each start.

    • Hoyce

      Let’s be clear- if he’s traded, which is still a long shot. It won’t be for anything significant. It’ll be straight payroll dump.

      • Bill

        How does the salary dump of an effective starting pitcher make the team better? Do you really think the Reds can find a more sure thing at the same price on the FA market?

  6. Wes

    Why trade homer? Reds keep dealing their best players for nothing and keep getting worse. If he can maintain #3 starter performances then let him pitch for next two seasons and fulfill his contract. Not like there’s a 1/2dozen guys knocking on the door to take his spot.

    Also neither Mesoraco nor bailey have any trade value what so ever. Not sure why trading either guy will be pleasing when return won’t even be miner leaguers who will be of note a la Phillips trade. Might as well keep them both for now.

    It’s time for reds to build up little bit of talent they got. Build around Iglesias if you can’t get a kings ransom and be happy w it. Hope homer can pitch 15-20 quality starts and be content.

  7. Reds4ever

    Doug, I talked to Garrett at the field yesterday. I said you should be starting. He said that they asked him where he felt comfortable. And he said he wants to stay In The bullpen. So we can’t get mad if it’s what he wants.

  8. The Duke

    Chew on this: Homer Bailey has been in the Cincinnati Reds organization for almost 14 years.

    Why, I remember back in aught four we heard of a wiley young Texan who threw it 130 mph, uphill both ways, through snow.

  9. Pat

    Only starter with an ERA below 5.6 and people are commenting to trade him. Others have commented to trade Scooter – only guy hitting above .278 at .306 The reality is other clubs know how the Reds operate and we wouldn’t get much (i.e. Chapman deal). Homer’s the only known quantity- not exciting but a solid #2 or 3 for most teams. Let’s hope he stays healthy and the bats wake up – he keeps the Reds in the game and keeps his pitch count down. Name another starter that does that? You can’t trade your best starter and get better…only way Reds get better is if the other starters improve. Potential is what minor leaguers have. At the MLB level it’s about performance not potential and so far Homer’s the only starter performing.

  10. Bubba Woo

    How well Homer has pitched is literally the only positive thing to happen this season.

  11. LeRoy

    I never thought that Homer had a bad attitude. He spoke straight and blunt. A lot of people do this. If he was criticized, he reacted to it. Not all people accept others talking about them without responding. He did not to anything to make the Reds give him the big contract. They offered it and he accepted. All the time he was injured, he worked hard and stayed positive about his rehab. Things didn’t work out the way the Reds planned nor the way Homer planned. If he pitches well and gives a good effort every time out, Be Happy!