EE Sports World Talks Homer Bailey

May 14, 2011


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By Brandon Berg, EE Sports World
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Homer Bailey has been under my close watch ever since he was a stud in the minors. He was a top prospect on every major minor league scouting site out there five years ago. He was SUPPOSED to break out two years ago.
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Well… that hasn’t happened and the fans are still waiting.
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The problem with Bailey seems to be that he always has a nagging injury and he gets off to a slow start. Then just when you think he’s figured it out and he is on a roll, the season ends. Last year, for example, Bailey was headed to the 15 day DL for right shoulder inflammation, an injury that was seemingly minor that ended up taking three months to recover from.
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In his four seasons prior to this year, he has failed to log at least 20 starts in any of them. In 2009, he posted a 6-1 record with a with a 1.70 ERA over his final nine starts of the season. In 2010, in his final starts 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA with just 19 walks.
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The snow falls, melts, falls again, melts and here we are, Spring Training all over again. Homer Bailey also has to start over again.
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This year, Bailey started out on the DL with an unusual injury, right shoulder impingement. He returned on May 5th to throw a gem, 6 IP, 4 H,1 ER, 1 BB and 7 K to notch the win. He followed that up on May 10th with another gem, going for 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB and 5 K to capture another win.
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Last year, he struck people out on an 8.26 K/9 clip, which looks like is going to stay somewhat the same for this year. Perhaps the most encouraging stat is the one walk he has so far this year. In the past, Bailey has walked people around a 4.2 BB/9 rate, but last year his control had improved, as he only walked people at a 3.30 BB/9 rate. Nothing special, but an improvement nonetheless.
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Bailey has been a your perfect model of inconsistency so far in his career, but with a great start this year, one has to wonder if he can keep it going the whole year. Are we going to witness a complete reversal of roles and watch a poor second half of the season instead?
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Is it possibly Bailey finally has it figured out? Absolutely.
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Bailey sports a solid fastball, which he now throws about 56% of the time, down from the 71% when he first entered the majors, thanks to the development of his secondary pitches, which he now throws 25% of the time, a pitch he has nearly developed from the ground up in the last five years. In his first year in the league, he threw it just 1% of the time. He also hurls a curveball and split-fingered fastball, a pitch he replaced his change-up with three years ago. They are not go-to pitches, but still effective.
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Bailey has a fairly deep arsenal, full of pitches he can now trust and appears to be gaining control on all of them. I see just one red flag.
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In Bailey’s worst season in the majors, he was getting the first pitch strike 57.8% of the time, but this year, in two starts, he’s only getting the first strike 50% of the time. Combine that with the low BABIP against him (.257) and high LOB (left on base) 90% and we can see luck is on Bailey’s side a bit. It’s a small sample size, but worth a look.
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Bailey is still available in about 30% of leagues, so if he is available in your league, snatch him up immediately, but monitor him closely. He could be great for wins (Reds have a potent offense), strikeouts and a solid ERA. Keep pitching him, but if he starts walking people, look very hard into selling high, because he could start unraveling and have an abysmal second half.
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