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Know the enemy: Breaking down the 2015 Cincinnati Reds

Aug 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds unveil the All Star Game logo prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds unveil the All Star Game logo prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports /

Starting rotation

The biggest loss suffered by the Cincinnati Reds this offseason came in the trade that sent right-hander Mat Latos to the Miami Marlins – leaving a question mark in the starting rotation heading into this spring.

The veteran had made at least 30 starts in five consecutive seasons – but last year, he made just 16 starts in what proved to be his final year at Great American Ballpark. He was still effective, pitching to a 3.25 earned run average and 1.153 WHIP; but heading into his age 27 season, he’ll anchor a young – albeit talented – starting rotation in Miami.

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After ace Johnny Cueto, who is a perennial Cy Young candidate in the National League, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake will hold down the front-end of the starting rotation. From there, questions arise: Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias and Jason Marquis have all battled for spots this spring.

Marquis has been surprisingly good this spring – going 3-1 with a 3.46 earned run average in six games spanning 26 innings of work. Meanwhile, DeSclafani has seemingly matched the veteran right-hander blow-for-blow – pitching to a 3.51 clip in half a dozen starts. Iglesias, who has split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation, has also been solid – and is penciled in as a starter to open the campaign.

The Reds have amassed a decent amount of depth starting pitching-wise and should weather the early season absence of Bailey well – if the young arms at the back end can hold up their end of the deal, the Cincinnati staff could be a dark horse quality rotation in the National League.

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