With the  anticipated return of Edinson Volquez. longtime Reds’ fans wonder whether he will be able to come back after Tommy John’s surgery, or whether he will be just another half-year wonder. Most of Volquez’s success in 2008 was before the All Star break.

He gave up a two-run homer that cost the game and home field advantage in the world series. It did not matter since the Phillies finished off the Rays in five games.

Two other Reds pitchers were half year wonders.  Both were first-round draft choices,

In 1970, Wayne Simpson was 12-1 at the All Star break.  He won two games the rest of the year.  He was traded to Kansas City with Hal McRae after the 1972 season, but his stuff was never the same. Too much reliance on the slider. He ending his career with a 36-31 record. 

Jack Armstrong, after a couple of lackluster seasons, was in double figures in wins in 1990, and lost his spot in the rotation.  He pitched three scoreless innings in Game Two of the World Series, but never was a consistent winner.

There are success stories:

When Don Gullett came up. Willie Stargell said, “that kid is wall-to wall heat.” After an off year in 1972, he won 75 games in the next five years.

Gary Nolan missed almost two years in 1973-74 and came back to win 15 in ’75 and ’76.  He earned two World Series rings pitching 464 innings. Nolan, like Mario Soto later, developed a change up for an out pitch.

Now there is concern about overusing Mike Leake. 

Dusty’s memories of Kerry Wood and Mike Pryor were never the same after the ill-fated pennant run, but one doesn’t know. Maybe Leake is a young Jim Palmer who threw a four hit shutout in Game Two of the 1966 with 275 other wins and a place in the Hall of Fame.

Only time will tell if Volquez will return to his form of 2008. Too much reliance on the slider may make him another half year wonder.  If he succeeds, the Reds can be much more successful in the second decade of the 21st century than the first.  And the old saying is true: you can never have too much pitching.

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