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No. 5 Starter Watch: Reds (status quo)

It looks like the Reds are taking this one to the wire (if not beyond). From CNati.com:

    The decision on the Reds fifth starter was made no easier by Wednesday's performances by Travis Wood and Mike Leake.

    The two were competiting for the fifth spot in the rotation and made their final spring starts on Wednesday.

    Leake, last year's first-round pick, pitched first, in Phoenix against the A's. He went six innings, allowed two runs (both earned), four hits, a walk and struck out two. He finished the spring with a 3.00 ERA, appearing in six games, throwing 18 innings with 16 hits, four walks and 10 strikeouts.

    Wood pitched later in chilly Las Vegas against the Dodgers. Wood went four innings, allowing three runs, five hits, three walks and struck out five. He finishes the spring with a 3.50 ERA in six games and 18 innings. He allowed 15 hits, 12 walks and had 17 strikeouts.

    --snip--

    The Reds wouldn't need a fifth starter until April 10 or 11, so neither Wood nor Leake may make the Opening Day roster and then be activated for that game.

Umm. I know they're close -- we looked at Leake and Wood last week -- but aren't Wood's 12 walks in 18 innings a bit of a red flag? Especially considering that he's walked roughly four hitters per nine innings in the minors? Wood is still a baby, just turned 23 this winter. But I'd like to see him throw a higher percentage of strikes before asking him to retire Albert Pujols.

Leake, though he's not pitched a single inning of Organized Baseball, did pitch 162 innings last year: 142 with Arizona State, then 20 in the Arizona Fall League. Do we count 162 innings, and assume he can bump to 180-some this year? Or do think he should be babied in his first real professional season?

As always, I would err on the side of caution. But with Wood and Aroldis Chapman backing him up, giving Leake a slot in the rotation tomorrow doesn't mean he has to throw 200 innings this year. I think he's ready, and I think he's going to win the job.