The positive vibes keeping flowing from the pitching mound for those unpredictable Cincinnati Reds!
With the Milwaukee Brewers picking up steam as the first half winds down, a surprising run at the top spot in the National League Central is sliding off the table, but there are still important things to be done with the 2017 baseball season.
The Reds’ brass has got to figure out which of these prospects are for real and which ones to move on from.
They’ve made a lot of progress in that department when it comes to the everyday eight, but combing through the pitching options was nothing short of a disaster through the first three months.
Enter Jackson Stephens. And Luis Castillo. Yes, even Homer Bailey!
And now Sal Romano.
This is probably not a remake of the 1990s Braves, but it is something considering the depth to which the starting staff had sunk prior to a week ago.
The starters have kept them in the game every day/night for a week.
I know some of you are quite fairly thinking, “It’s one week!” or, “These haven’t all even been ‘quality starts,’ and quality start is a dumb stat anyway!”
You would not be wrong, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
Why not here?
The rules require teams to designate a pitcher for every inning. One of those guys has to start every game. There’s no getting around this. It will still be true in 2018 and beyond (I think we can safely assume this with Bud the Bummer out of the commissioner’s office).
Before establishing a five-man rotation, a team needs to find one reliable starter. Then another, and another, and.. well you get the picture.
Who knows who is going to stick from this most recent week of less suckiness, but it sure looks a lot better than the week before that.
Here’s something I hadn’t considered until yesterday: What if firing Thad Matta to salvage 2018 recruiting has the opposite effect?
While pretty much everyone seemed to agree the timing of Gene Smith’s decision to make an Ohio State basketball coaching change was risky, I have no doubts it was something that needed to be done for the overall health of the program.
The long-term health of the program, right?
Because this coming season was looking like Matta’s worst yet in Columbus, and 2017-18 probably won’t be much better with Chris Holtmann now in charge.
Given the trends over the last 4-6 years there wasn’t much reason to think Matta would be able to make the Buckeyes perennial contenders again, but Holtmann had a chance to hit the ground running given the deep, talented class of in-state prospects for 2018.
Then again, Matta did have two four-star in-state prospects to lean on for 2018 with at least some chance to add more before it comes time to sign.
When the season ended — the better time to make a coaching change, all things considered — he actually had three four-stars, including the guy who is currently No. 1, but Darius Bazley re-opened his recruitment a few weeks later.
That was probably a major factor in Smith’s decision-making process, but now the whole thing has unraveled with Justin Ahrens of Versallies de-committing and Upper Arlington’s Dane Goodwin opting for Notre Dame instead of OSU.
So while Holtmann scored a coup in getting Massillon four-star 2017 forward Kyle Young to come with him (spurning Butler, where Holtmann was the coach until last month), his job of rebuilding the roster beyond what is almost surely going to be a forgettable first season has gotten even tougher than it looked when he was hired.
Not only are Bazley and Goodman off the table, so is Pete Nance, the state’s No. 2 prospect who recently committed to Northwestern.
Even if he whiffs this year, Holtmann should have plenty of time to turn things around, but it would be a big disappointment and a major setback.
And, as I wrote yesterday, this is all a reminder Ohio State was really in a no-win situation with Matta at the end.
Will waiting to pull the trigger on his firing end up being more damaging than it was thought at the time?
Get back to me in November...
Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant would no doubt like to make life tougher on Holtmann by getting signatures from some of Ohio’s best, too.
He has offered Ahrens and four-star forward Jerome Hunter, among others.
Ohio State can offer early playing time, but Grant can assure prospects of getting to play in an actual basketball arena for home games.
Of course, it all comes down to fit for everyone.
Meanwhile, UD got some good news on a couple of fronts yesterday.
Last but not least, we are less than a month from the start of high school football practice, and one of the area’s most talented teams (Dunbar) still doesn’t have a coach.
Meanwhile, here’s the last story from my recent trip to Springfield, where there are a half-dozen or more players who are getting Division I interest already.