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Pitching priceless when healthy

by Matt Smith

The Cincinnati Reds thought they had greatly reduced their risk by picking up Ryan Madson on a short-term deal this offseason and they were right. What they hadn’t, and couldn’t have, done was to eliminate the risk of him getting injured.

Madson has just joined the list of pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his season before it had begun.

The Reds will bemoan their bad luck, while reflecting on the wiseness of also acquiring Sean Marshall in a trade with the Cubs. He is likely to take on the closer role in Madson’s absence and should do a fine job, although the Reds will now be looking at their bullpen depth and assessing what other options they have internally to add to their Major League group.

The old baseball adage that good pitching beats good hitting will always be the subject of great debate.

What isn’t a matter of contention is that the saying is of little use when applied to rosters on paper. It doesn’t matter how talented your hitting or pitching staff is if your best players are not fit to play.

That’s where the emphasis on good pitching does matter the most. Pitchers by their nature are a greater injury risk than position players and most teams will have to deal with setbacks to their hurlers over the course of the year.

If you have a strong and healthy pitching staff, the advantage isn’t necessarily so much a direct advantage over the hitters they are facing, but the relative advantage created by your hitters potentially facing the opponent’s weakened staff.

A talented pitching staff is of great benefit to a team’s postseason prospects. A talented pitching staff that can stay healthy is absolutely priceless.

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