Ferguson: Jays should look at Reds' pitching success

Scott Ferguson
8/30/2013 11:53:34 AM
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If we were playing "Jeopardy" the answer would be Bronson Arroyo. The question might blow you away, as it did me. Who is the winningest pitcher in the National League since 2006? Yes it is the Reds 36-year-old right hander.
Arroyo has chalked up 104 victories since joining Cincinnati in 2006. He also happens to be a free-agent at the end of this season. I'm not advocating the Blue Jays go right out and sign him, but maybe they should take a look at the overall success and health of the Reds pitching staff, especially over the last two seasons.

 A year ago, the Reds only had to use, six starters all season long.  Four of the five regulars pitched 200 innings and the other, Mike Leake, reached 179. Oddly enough the other starter  was current Blue Jays right hander Todd Redmond, who made all of one start for the Reds.
 The Reds staff made 98 quality starts and they had an ERA of 3.34, helping boost the club to a 97-65 record.
The Blue Jays on the other hand in 2012, had to use 12 starters. They lost three, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, and Brandon Morrow for a substantial part of the season. The Jays only had 75 quality starts, a staff ERA of 4.64 and not a single pitcher who reached 200 innings. They also finished with a dismal  73-89 record.

So have things changed that much this season, for either team? Not really!. The Reds has used eight starters this season, in part because the man who's arguably their ace, Johnny Cueto, has been injured for much of the season.

Check out their other four main starters though, Matt Latos is (13-5), Mike Leake (11-5), Arroyo (13-9) and Homer Bailey, who threw a no-hitter earlier this season, is (9-10). All four are on pace to throw over 200 innings. On top of that all four have less than 50 walks apiece.

 The Reds top prospect, lefty Tony Cingrani came up to fill in for Cueto, and has built a (6-3) record with 16 quality starts in 21 outings. With the exception of Arroyo (36), all of the Reds starters are 27 years old or younger, while Cingrani is only 24. All-together, if you throw in Cueto's five quality starts, the Reds have 89 quality starts in 134 games, which takes a lot of pressure off the bullpen.
Cincinnati has only issued 354 walks. The only teams to have allowed fewer in the Senior Circuit are Atlanta and Washington who share the lead with 342. The Blue Jays on the other hand have given up 430 walks.

The Blue Jays staff ERA is 4.40, exactly one run higher than the Reds. Though R.A Dickey hasn't pitched like a Cy Young winner this time around, he hasn't been a total wash-out either.
He has 15 quality starts, and with  182.2 innings, is in easy range of 200 for the campaign.

Mark Buehrle, who's been the Jays most consistent and best starter this season, has a 10-7 record and 15 quality starts, tied with Dickey for the team lead.  He only needs  28 more innings to crack the 200 mark.
Again the injuries have done the Jays staff in. Brandon Morrow, J.A Happ and Josh Johnson have all missed significant time, and Johnson and Morrow are done for the season.

Why have the Reds been so successful the last two years while the Jays have not?  Hard to say. The Reds play in essentially the same kind of home stadium as the Jays. In other words, fly balls can turn into home runs easily. The Reds try to combat that by employing hard throwing strikeout type pitchers.

They also have Bryan Price as their pitching coach, who's reputed to be one of the best in the business.

 The Blue Jays best two starters this year are Buehrle and Dickey, who don't blow you away with hard stuff.  They've both had troubles with the long ball, Dickey giving up 29 and Buehrle 20 with the bulk coming at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays, largely because of the injuries, haven't had the power arms to augment them. 
The Jays also have a rookie pitching coach, at least at this level , in Pete Walker  which also may be a factor, but all of the above explains why GM Alex Anthopoulos said this week that his top priority in the off-season is to fix the starting rotation.

One brilliant decision the Blue Jays made this season was getting an agreement to put their Triple "A" affiliate in Buffalo in the International League.  The Bisons, though unlikely to make the playoffs, drew 16,998 fans for their final home game Thursday evening, on "Fan Appreciation Night".

They averaged 8,273 fans per game according to the Buffalo News, which was an increase of 12.25% over 2012, when they were the Mets farm club.  It is the largest year to year increase in attendance in their current ballpark's history.  Just one of the reasons, the Jays have extended their deal with the Bisons and Buffalo for another two years, covering them thru 2016.

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