Bailey out to prove he's worth the big bucks, even if his stats don't yet show it
MAY 10, 2014 5:26p ET
CINCINNATI -- A cardboard box full of dual-headed bobbleheads was on a chair next to Homer Bailey's locker, a two-headed bobblehead that was given to fans Saturday night commemorating Bailey's two no-hitters.
Asked what he thought of the bobblehead, Bailey said, "Just a lot more crap for me to sign. But they pay me a lot of money to do it so I smile when asked to sign and say, 'Not a problem.'"
Yes, the Cincinnati Reds are paying a lot of money to Bailey, $105 million, so fandom expects commensurate results. The more a player is paid the more positive results and the fans expect.
Bailey didn't start Saturday night on his Bobblehead Night, but is scheduled to pitch Sunday on Mother's Day with a 2-and-2 record and a bloated 5.36 earned run average. He has given up seven home runs, the same as Johnny Cueto. But Cueto has given up only 10 total runs while Bailey has given up 24.
Bailey smiled when he was told, "Don't you know now that you make the big bucks you are supposed to win every game?" Said Bailey, "Oh, yeah. I've known that. I knew that on the day I was drafted (No. 1 in 2004)."
As most pitchers will tell anybody who will listen, a won-loss record too often is out of a pitcher's hands, things they can't control. Cueto is case in point. His record is barely better than Bailey's at 3-and-2 despite a league-leading 1.43 earned run average.
What most pitchers seek is innings pitched and a low earned run average. As Cueto says, "My job is to do the best I can, keep my team in the game, go as long as I can. What happens off that mound is out of my control."
That's Bailey's point at this juncture of the young season.
"Next year, we'll be in spring training, and somebody is going to come up and ask me, 'Don't you wish you were a little more consistent?'" said Bailey. "And I am going to tell them, 'So three years in a row with a sub-4.00 ERA and 200 innings isn't enough for you? Just watch.'"
The past two years Bailey has been a warhorse, a fitting description for a guy who owns a stable of horses. In 2012 he pitched 208 innings and had an ERA of 3.68. In 2013 he pitched 209 innings and had an ERA of 3.49.
His combined record for those two years is 24-22, with a no-hitter mixed in each season.
Bailey opened the season the first week against the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven hits, "And I wasn't even close to being ready."
That's because late in spring training he encountered a groin injury and everything he worked up to at that time was gone. He had to start over.
"Just give me some time, a little more time," he said. "Its hard so hard starting the season banged up. My groin feels fine, but my legs? I went 2 ½ weeks where I didn't get to lift. Didn't get to do anything. Now we're into the season and I'm still trying to play catch-up.
"You build it up during spring training and you are here, here and then here," said Bailey. "You are about to peak for the season and you start over. And guess what? These games count when I'm trying to build myself back up."
Bailey said he isn't making excuses, just presenting the stats. And he has been stretching it out. In his last four starts he has gone six innings three times and eight innings once.
In his last start in Boston last week he pitched six innings, giving up three runs in a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox, a loss that was the bullpen's.
"My last game, six innings, three runs, was a quality start, but I hear, 'Hey, that was a horse-shoddy start.' I managed to keep us in the game. I had trouble in the first inning but got out of it."
"it is amazing," said Bailey. "We seem to get one player back (off the disabled list) and lose two."
Bailey continues to build himself back to full-go and don't be surprised if by the end of the season he has more than 200 innings and an ERA under 4.00. It is in his nature and it is in his blood. And don't be shocked if next year the Reds have to pass out a three-headed Homer Bailey bobblehead.