Veteran righthander says the Reds are well-armed this time for the playoffs after bad showing in 2010.
By HAL MCCOYFS Ohio
CINCINNATI — As the Cincinnati Reds creep closer and closer toward the National League Central championship, the question most asked by fans is: "Who will be the Reds starting pitchers, because they don't need five?"
For sure, they need three, and maybe four, and it is dead, solid perfect that No. 1 will be 17-game winner Johnny Cueto and No. 2 will be 12-game winner Mat Latos.
And No. 3?
That should be obvious, especially to anybody paying close attention lately to the deeds of righthander Bronson Arroyo.
The 35-year-old Arroyo is the oldest player in terms of service on the roster, having arrived from Boston in the spring of 2006 for the meager cost of outfielder Wily Mo Pena.
When he beat the Houston Astros Saturday night, 5-1, giving up seven hits in seven innings, it pushed his record to 12-7. More importantly, since July 21 Arroyo is 8-1 in 10 starts.
That isn't uncommon for the 6-4, 193-pounder. Despite his pencil-thin stature Arroyo nearly always starts the season at a slow jog and finishes in a full-bore sprint.
That, of course, is just what the Reds want for the foray into the postseason for the second time in three years after not making it from 1996 to 2009.
Despite his skinny kid on the beach body, Arroyo is an amazing baseball specimen. Not once in his 10 major-league seasons has he missed a start. Not one. Not once has he been on the disabled list. Not once.
And he is proud of the fact he went six straight years of pitching more than 200 innings and only missed last year by one inning, despite a season-long argument with Valley Fever that he picked up during spring training and accompanied him all year. And he still never missed a start.
Only once in his career has Arroyo ever put an ice bag on his arm. And that was only because he saw other pitchers doing it and figured it was the thing to do.
"I did it in high school in 1994 and the next day my arm felt terrible and I never did it again," he said. "I use the hot tub once in a while and that seems to get the blood flowing."
Of his ability to finish strong, Arroyo said, "I saw an article that on three days with rest with a minimum of 12 starts I had the best numbers in baseball. How do you figure that.
"I know down the stretch, in August and September, my numbers are pretty good," he added. "I've been a guy that having regular work keeps me going. Too many days off makes me weak. I have a strange body like that. I need to be in the weight room every day doing stuff."
Arroyo is aware that the longer the season goes, the better he gets, so he looks forward to the extension of the season for the Reds into the postseason.
"As the season goes on, I always seem to dial it in," he said. "At the beginning of the season is always hit or miss for me. If I could get off to a good start maybe I could dial in a great season. But I always seem to be running uphill."
Arroyo realizes that the 2010 team that won the National League Central, but was swept in three games by the Philadlephia Phillies in the NLCS, was not well-armed. Not dangerous at all.
"In 2010 we didn't have enough weapons," he said. "Right now our staff is good enough to compete with anybody in the game. "Everybody has good pitching in the playoffs, but we're definitely on par this time with all the other teams. It will be a matter of us scoring runs against the other team's quality pitching because we're good enough to keep the score reasonable on most nights."
Arroyo's grittiness and toughness was evident Saturday night against the Astros, a night during which he was battling a possible flu bag in additon to Houston hitters.
"I was hurting a little bit tonight," he said. "My body was aching a little bit. I feel like something is trying to get at me, a little virus or something. After the sixth inning I was feeling really bad. But I had a pretty good handle on those guys and decided to give it one more inning."
And that says it all about Bronson Arroyo. Give him a baseball, point him to the pitcher's mound and turn him loose without even having to wind him up. He's always wound up.