In this thread, I will raise five questions relating to 2012 Reds playoff baseball. I will attempt to give my answers. I am interested in everyone's answers.
1. Which pitchers will be on the 25 man playoff roster?
Given the extra days off, I think the Reds will go with an 11 man staff. Barring injury or ineffectiveness on a massive scale down the stretch, Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, and Bailey are locks as starters and Chapman, Broxton, and Marshall are locks as relievers. I believe the other four spots go to Arredondo, Lecure, Hoover, and Leake. That means that Simon and Ondrusek are left off the roster.
You could make an argument for Simon over Hoover or Leake, but I think as a long man in case a starter gets pulled very early, Leake is more valuable because he can give you six or seven innings in case a starter gets pulled in the first or second. I don't think Simon can give you that many innings and not having Leake would put a greater strain on the pen in that situation. In terms of a 6th or 7th inning guy to get you through one inning, I like Hoover better than Simon at this juncture.
2. Which position players will be on the 25 man playoff roster?
Given my view that the Reds will go with 11 pitchers, that leaves 14 position players. I will go with Votto, Phillips, Cozart, Rolen, Ludwick, Stubbs, Bruce, Hanigan, Frazier, Navarro, Heisey, Paul, Valdez, and Mesoraco.
The only arguments here could be Valdez or Mesoraco over Cairo. With respect to Valdez, there is actually no legitimate argument. He can play shortstop and Cairo cannot. On the Mesoraco vs. Cairo issue, I am assuming that Mesoraco is eligible to be on the roster. I am not sure about this, but I think the Reds have stated that I he can be on it even though he was not on the roster on August 31st (something about a DL issue). If that is the case, I don't see the need for Cairo other than pinch hitting. Valdez will backup SS and 2B. Votto, Rolen, and Frazier will handle first and third. The only potential use of Cairo would be as a pinch hitter and I think Dusty would rather have the switch hitting Navarro as the pinch hitter than Cairo (who has a .172 BA and a .469 OPS) and only hits from the right side. Unless Mesoraco is on the roster, Dusty will not risk using his backup catcher. Thus, I think three catchers make it. Hanigan catches every game (with the exception of Navarro starting maybe one), Navarro is an available pinch hitter, and Mesoraco is the insurance policy backup catcher that is not used unless there is an injury, ejection, or marathon extra inning game.
What will the playoff rotation look like?
As mentioned earlier, the starters most likely will be Cueto, Latos, Arroyo, and Bailey. All things being equal, that should be the rotation order. However, the massive gap in Bailey's home vs. road splits (Bailey's road ERA is under 3 and his home ERA is over 5), if the Reds start out at a large park like in San Francisco, I can see the Reds moving Bailey up to game 2 to allow him to start on the road, bumping Latos to game 3 and Arroyo to game 4. I think this gives the Reds a better chance at winning the NLDS, but could hurt in the NLCS if the Reds make it because, given the days off, it could force Dusty to keep Bailey towards the front end of the rotation in that series.
How will the Reds handle center field?
Given his lefty splits, Stubbs is a lock to start against all left handers. He will also play as a defensive replacement late in games in which he did not start and the Reds have the lead. My sense is that Stubbs will split the starts against right handers relatively evenly with Heisey.
How will Todd Frazier figure into the lineup?
Unless Rolen's back is acting up or one of them goes very cold down the stretch, I think Dusty alternates starts at third between Rolen and Frazier. That keeps Rolen fresh and allows Frazier some at bats. While I think Frazier will see time at 1B and LF in September, barring injury I do not think he will see time at those positions in the playoffs. On Frazier's off days, he will be the pinch hitter used at the most critical times. On Rolen's off days, he will be available to pinch hit or as a late inning defensive replacement at third if the Reds have the lead.