Monday, June 9, 2008

Let's Talk about Homer........D'oh!!!!!

Recently, the Reds called Homer Bailey up from the minors. Bailey was the "franchise savior" last summer, only it hasn't quite worked out that way. Last year, Bailey came up and experienced the struggles that many young pitchers experience. However, it isn't the fact that he has struggled, but rather the WAY he has struggled.

In his amateur career and in the minors, Homer established a reputation as a power pitcher. He possesses a good fastball, which has helped him post a career 9.3 K/9 in the minors. Despite his impressive minor league stats, Homer just hasn't been impressive at the MLB level. In fact, he has looked like a shadow of the pitcher who is supposed to be the #1 starter in Cincinnati for the next decade. When you look at the debuts of the best young pitching prospects, you almost always see them struggle. However, they typically looked much more electric than Homer has during his MLB time.

When a Tim Lincecum or Francisco Liriano arrives on the scene, you can just tell by watching them that the potential for dominance is there. The ball explodes out of their hand and even though they may struggle, you can just tell that they have the potential TO dominate. At this point, I just don't see it out of Homer.

I'm not sure why he is having so much trouble at the major league level. However, I suspect that while his control is acceptable, his command is lacking. He can consistently throw strikes, but he has trouble locating pitches inside the strikezone. Personally, I would have preferred to see Homer stay down in the minors until he proved that he had the ability to command his offspeed pitches. By yo-yo-ing him back and forth between the majors before he is ready may be detrimental to his development. If he proves again that he is not ready, then he'll have to yet again be returned to the minors. It seems like it would have been better to make Homer really earn his way back up to the majors.

At this point, I'm just not sure he has an out pitch. He needs to be able to effectively utilize his secondary pitches and MLB hitters aren't going to struggle when facing primarily a one pitch pitcher. Regardless of how fast a fastball may be, MLB hitters will eventually get the timing down and put the bat on the ball.

I have yet to see the potential for dominance out of Homer, but hopefully better command of his off-speed pitches will lead to more impressive performances. If he can learn how to mix in all of his pitches and rely on them more heavily, then he may yet get to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, at this point, he seems to be quite a long way from the peak.

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