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View Full Version : The Bullpen: My Report Card



The DARK
05-25-2011, 02:00 AM
There's been a lot of talk about how the bullpen is a weakness of the club that's being exposed. Lets have a look at how we stand so far, and how we look going forward. I'll be grading based on bullpen performance in both AAA and the big leagues, but only players with big league appearances or who were considered serious options to make the club out of Spring Training are considered. Starting performances are generally disregarded.

This first group of arms is the best we've got:

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The Closer:
Cordero- He's been lights out so far this year. Only one blown save in 10 opportunities so far and a .94 WHIP means he's not the CoCoCoaster of last year. He's got the poise and confidence right now to keep this up over the season. Grade: A

The Set-Up Guy:
Masset- Absolutely terrible start; he was directly responsible for several of the Reds' losses at the beginning of the year. However he's rebounded very nicely to get his ERA down to a respectable 4.15, and turned back into the shutdown middle inning guy we hoped he would be. Grade: C

The Middle Relief Horse:
Ondrusek- Seemingly Dusty's first option after the starter leaves the game, the tall righty has done a consistently good job of cooling the jets of opposing hitters. He's a guy I hope will stay with the club for years to come. Grade: A-

The Lefty Specialist:
Bray- About as good as you can hope for from a guy coming off Tommy John. He may not have the repertoire of some of the other relievers, but he knows how to make hitters miss, and wins most all of his matchups. Grade: A

The Long Man:
Lecure- Incredibly useful so far, having the most IP of any current reliever due to his ability to make decent spot starts and long relief appearences whenever our temperamental rotation has an issue. He's settled into his role quite nicely. Grade: B+

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I'd call these guys the regulars going forward. I don't see a scenario in which any of them lose their jobs without extremely poor play, and they're as good as any bullpen in the league. This next group consists the wild cards, competing for 2 or 3 spots going forward:

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The New Guy:
Arredondo- He hasn't shown the pure stuff we'd hoped he would so far, but he's been solid in mop-up in the short time he's been here, and was great in AAA. If he keeps it up, he'll be quite useful in a more demanding role, and etch a permanent place for himself in the bullpen. Grade: B+

The Kid:
Chapman- It's been an incredibly wild season for him so far; on one hand, he was lights out in April, compiling an excellent ERA with a possible 106 MPH fastball to boot. But afterwards, he's been wildly terrible; some outings his fastball couldn't reach 94, and more recently he couldn't throw the ball over the plate any better than you or I could. He just had a solid AAA appearance, so hopefully his future is brighter. Grade: D

The Converted Starters:
Maloney- Horrific so far with the big club, but amazing in AAA; he's a Jekyll and Hyde AAAA pitcher. With limited experience in relief and Lecure and Leake ahead of him on the depth chart, he appears to be caught in limbo. Based solely on relief work, Grade: F

Leake- Disregarding his starting appearances and off the field conduct, his relief work has been terrible, getting caught in jams and getting blown up at every turn. Suffice to say, it's unlikely he'll be seen in the bullpen ever again. Grade: F

The AAA Dwellers:
Fisher- Thoroughly unimpressive in AAA, but in his brief time in the majors, he hasn't given up a run. Players are forcing their way onto the 40 man by the day, and the draft (with players potentially demanding major league deals) looms large. If he's going to stay with the club, the time to impress is now. Grade: C-

Burton- 60 Day DL. So much for being primed to force his way through. Grade: Incomplete

Smith- Ugly, ugly, ugly. He had a decent first few outings, but the wheels fell off as he couldn't find his groove at all. Hopefully, he can work his way back up through AAA. Grade: F

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So where does that leave us? On the bright side, 5 of the bullpen guys are as good as it gets. They've been mostly outstanding so far, and look to have bright futures in the bullpen going forward.

Filling out the roster with 2 or 3 more players, however, is tricky. Arredondo has started off on the right foot and may be exactly what our bullpen needs, but he's still an unproven commodity. If he goes up in flames or another arm falls victim to injury, we've got a problem on our hands. Chapman, to continue being effective, needs time to cool his nerves in Louisville. The other options don't look good; Fisher looks like little more than a stopgap, and the converted starters have looked incredibly poor. Jeremy Horst, who's impressing in AAA, may look like the best option at this point, but he's unproven as well. Time will tell who can pick up the mantle.

Truthfully, our bullpen isn't as bad as it's looked. Consistently bad performances from a select few have inflated the overall ERA substantially, but the core remains intact, and the competition remains. I feel far better about this bullpen going forward than I see when I look around the rest of the division.

lonewolf371
05-25-2011, 04:03 AM
Of all the things to worry about on this team, the bullpen doesn't seem to be one of them. There's lots of quality arms to throw out there and it shows in games like tonight's against the Phillies.

I think Ondrusek will get shut down at some point, though. He's had a HUGE work load so far and arms usually just don't throw that many innings in relief.

The DARK
05-25-2011, 05:08 AM
I think Ondrusek will get shut down at some point, though. He's had a HUGE work load so far and arms usually just don't throw that many innings in relief.

Maybe later in the season, but he has as many as Masset right now. If it gets to be a problem, Burton should be off the 60-day by then.

TheBigLebowski
05-25-2011, 08:19 AM
Quality internet posting.

Vottomatic
05-25-2011, 08:47 AM
For now, I will apologize to Cordero. He has been awesome this year.

But he is pitching differently this year too. He is moving the ball around the plate a ton more than last year. Last year he always tried to nibble the same spot which got him into trouble. I also think he is using more different pitches to keep the hitters more off balance. He stuck with the fastball last year and mixed in an occasional slider that would miss horrifically.

Definitely a different pitcher this season.

Which makes me wonder if they won't unload him while his trade value is high.

lonewolf371
05-25-2011, 11:47 AM
For now, I will apologize to Cordero. He has been awesome this year.

But he is pitching differently this year too. He is moving the ball around the plate a ton more than last year. Last year he always tried to nibble the same spot which got him into trouble. I also think he is using more different pitches to keep the hitters more off balance. He stuck with the fastball last year and mixed in an occasional slider that would miss horrifically.

Definitely a different pitcher this season.

Which makes me wonder if they won't unload him while his trade value is high.
He's lost 2 mph off his fastball, but has added a change-up so you're right. He's a completely different pitcher.

Here's what would happen if we traded him: Masset would start blowing saves out the wazzo and then everyone on this board would start clamoring to trade Votto for Heath Bell, in addition to bashing management for trading away a legit, quality closer at his peak. It would be a lot worse than the SS/LF stuff, because losing a game in the ninth is the most frustrating thing there is.

Vottomatic
05-25-2011, 04:55 PM
He's lost 2 mph off his fastball, but has added a change-up so you're right. He's a completely different pitcher.

Here's what would happen if we traded him: Masset would start blowing saves out the wazzo and then everyone on this board would start clamoring to trade Votto for Heath Bell, in addition to bashing management for trading away a legit, quality closer at his peak. It would be a lot worse than the SS/LF stuff, because losing a game in the ninth is the most frustrating thing there is.

I'm not promoting trading Cordero. I'm just wondering out loud if management might be considering it to get something in return for him before he bolts in free agency.

Obviously, how well the Reds are doing is a factor. But they might believe that Ondrusek can do what Cordero does. Or maybe they don't. But you never know what they are thinking.

Also, management may consider a need for the team, such as a quality 4-hole hitter more of a priority, and consider unloading Cordero's contract to free up money for another need.