Originally Posted by IslandRed
Yes, and no. I'm in favor of putting Chapman in the rotation, because if he's in and Leake's out, the rotation is better. But in fairness to Leake, the bolded part really isn't true IMHO. Comparing apples to apples, very few #5 starters will show up on that "eligible for the ERA title" list because the typical #5 guy doesn't pitch well enough to hold the job. Most teams don't have four rotation-worthy horses, much less five. Here's a good article about fifth starters from Hardball Times -- a few years old but some things don't change much:
When a team can get 180 innings of 1.5 WAR pitching out of its fifth-best guy, as the Reds did with Leake, it's not at a competitive disadvantage. Far from it, as long as we're not paying too much money for it. And that's without getting into the whole measuring-a-pitcher-by-his-ERA thing, which I'll set aside for now except to say that he comes off a little better (but only a little) with the advanced stats.
But nonetheless, I'm not arguing the point that he's the guy to bump out of the rotation if Chapman's going in.
OK, let's go with something reasonably low. Let's say 100 innings. Mike Leake comes in at #11 worst. Not good any way you slice it, and the fact he got so many innings is more of the fact the Reds didn't have any better options. Most of the guys with performance like Leake get replaced, and the only ones in the league that didn't were on teams similar to the Reds with no better options or the guy is a two time Cy Young winner.
As far as pitching WAR goes, hey, Bud Norris is a freaking 1.5 WAR pitcher with less innings than Leake. I think pitching WAR is broken and even bad pitchers can get a decent WAR with enough innings.
The simple fact is almost every team in the league would have at least tried someone else besides Leake in the 5 spot, but the Reds had so few options they were stuck with him there despite performance that would dictate being replaced.
edit: You also have to take into account many other staffs had injuries forcing poor pitchers into duty while the Reds had none. If every other staff was healthy like the Reds it would be worse for Leake. For a #5 on a staff with no injuries, his numbers were simply poor. If Leake was a part time #5 like many others or forced into the #5 role due to injury I would say his numbers are fine. Yet that is not the case.