Could the chances of the Reds making the post season this year hang in the hands of Eric Milton? After looking at a few numbers, I think so. The season is just over 25% done. Let's look at some current numbers and projections...
Harang and Arroyo: 10 wins already...that's 40 projected. Keeping up that pace will be difficult. I think 32 combined wins from them is a reasonable projection.
Claussen: 3 wins...12 projection. He should be able to accomplish that or come real close to that.
The bullpen: 7 wins so far...26-28 projection. Projecting bullpen wins is more difficult for various reasons. The bullpen is still shaky so I'll lower the number to 22 wins.
#5 starter: Williams and Ramirez have 3 total wins. Another tough projection due to many variables. I think 10 total wins is not far-fetched for whoever pitches in our 5 spot.
That's 76 wins so far.
Now Milton: Last year he won only 8 games. From 2000-2004 (not counting 2003 due to injury) he averaged 13.75 wins. If he can pitch similar to his career average, not counting last season, the Reds should be in pretty good shape. Hopefully, the way he pitched in Spring Training and in his first 2 starts this year (2-0, 2.63 E.R.A.) is a sign he'll return to old form. If he can win 13-14 games (still reasonable despite missing 5 starts) that would put the Reds at 89-90 wins for the year. If Milton pitches like he did last year and wins only 8 or so games, that equals 84 wins. 90 wins or something close to that would keep us in contention until the end of year.
A lot is riding on Milton. He's much needed for this team to be successful, especially with his contract counting for approximately 1/6 of the entire payroll. Hopefully he'll come through.