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TGIF: Homer’s Odyssey

Homer Bailey

Instead of a boring introduction, let’s just cut right to it.

Normally, when you hear the name “Homer Bailey”, you begin to cringe. You’re skin gets goose bumps, the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up, and flashes of lightning start striking down behind you. It may seem like you are stuck in a horror movie, but this is real life, and this young Cincinnati pitcher has been a frightening thought when it comes to your pitching staff.

Obviously you would never draft him anymore. The hype has already come and gone for years. Bailey is doomed to be a career minor leaguer and join the likes of Lou Merloni and Dallas McPherson. I myself won’t be touching him in upcoming drafts, but his positive end to last season does garner a closer look at the youngster.

We all know Bailey…well…for lack of a better word…sucks. His career ERA in 37 starts is 5.45 and he has a 12-13 record. Needless to say, he is a bit rough around the edges. Compared to his minor league career (36-27, 3.61 ERA), Bailey has been nothing short of a colossal disappointment.

Before we think about Bailey in 2010, it helps to see how he ended last season on an incredibly high note.

The Numbers

Bailey started out 2009 in classic fashion by posting a 6.04 ERA from April to August. Then out of nowhere, Bailey flipped a switch. In an unforeseen miracle, Bailey put up his best ERA for a single month for any season of his career with a 2.41 ERA in September in 37.1 IP. Combined with his six scoreless innings from one start in October, Bailey ended 2009 with a 2.08 ERA in the final two months.

During September/October, opponents only hit .258 off Bailey and he posted a BABIP of .333, which means Bailey fell victim to some more bad luck than usual in that time, but still managed to be dominating. Not to mention, his 8.72 K/9 showed us that he can bring the heat to the major league level. All of these numbers point to a very positive outlook for this kid.

The Negatives

If you want concerns, then sure, there are a few. Despite the great numbers, Bailey still had a 1.41 WHIP in September/October, thanks in part to his 3.95 BB/9 and 42 hits allowed in 43.1 IP.

My other concern is his arsenal. So far, Bailey really lacks a third pitch in his collection. He showcases his fastball and his slider was his second-most used pitch last season, showing us that he has lost faith in his curveball. No starter can succeed with only two pitches.

In Conclusion

However, this guy is still incredibly young. He will only be 23 when the season starts, so time is on his side. A lot of us have lost faith in Bailey after only three seasons, but there is still an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. The fact that he was able to finally turn a corner in the last month of 2009 has got to be a very encouraging sign.

I am obviously not condoning touching Bailey early in your draft or even in the middle of your draft. He is somebody to wait on until your last five picks. Just because I think the kid has begun to put pieces together, it doesn’t mean he is going to be a stud or even a sleeper this season. If he can get his season ERA between 4.00 and 4.30 with 10-12 wins, then it will be a big step forward for him.

If he had put up his usual horrendous 5.00+ ERA in every month last season, then I wouldn’t have wasted my time here, but since he showed me that he has the skills to make it work in the majors, it has made me much less skeptical.

Take a chance on the guy late in your draft. If he goes back to his usual ways, then dump him into free agency…like we always do.

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