Apparently the talk of Reds camp is Johnny Cueto, who tossed four shutout innings against the Phillies on Wednesday. How well has he pitched this spring? From MLB.com:
"Through three games, including one start, Cueto has a 1.00 ERA and eight strikeouts in nine innings with just one walk. He has continued to set the bar high in his competition for a rotation spot against Homer Bailey, Edinson Volquez, Matt Belisle, Josh Fogg and Jeremy Affeldt."
Just to be clear, there's more than one rotation spot up for grabs. The top two slots are set, with Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. But after them the rotation is wide open. Or should be. In 37 career starts, Belisle's ERA is 5.11. In 179 career starts, Fogg's ERA is 4.93. In 42 career starts, Affeldt's ERA is 5.41.
Belisle's a holdover. Fogg and Affeldt were both signed as starters, presumably to take some pressure off the kids. But frankly, none of those guys has any business starting regularly for a good team, and the Reds have a chance to be pretty good.
Nobody talks about this, but in this sense the Reds are just like the Yankees: they'll go exactly as far as their talented young starters take them. Obviously, it's unfair to expect Cueto, Bailey and Volquez to start 30 games apiece and finish the season as Rookie of the Year candidates. But all three of the kids have more talent in their little fingers than those three veterans have in their whole pitching arms. They're why this year's Reds might be last year's Rockies.