Reds are devoting Stephenson, Cingrani, Travieso to the rotation. Same with Corcino who maybe gets back on track next year. Rogers is a second tier prospect for the back end of the rotation.
Right now, I don't see them devoting any top prospect arm to the pen. Lorenzen is really the only one I can think of. I don't see the problem with it.
When it comes to Lorenzen, it is a bit different given how little he has pitched in his life. But teams don't commit elite arms to the bullpen before they have to for a reason.
But a top bullpen needs a few elite arms. Closers, eighth inning guys, highest leverage spots. All relief positions, all bullpen spots, not the same.
IMO, a team should devote most top prospect arms to the rotation, but not all. Some very good arms should be trained as relievers to help fill the key late inning roles.
Looking at the saves leaders in MLB right now, here is the top 10:
Johnson - former starter
Kimbrel - always a reliever
Nathan - former starter
Rivera - former starter
Holland - almost always a reliever
Mujica - former starter
Soriano - former starter
Balfour - former starter
Chapman - former starter
Grilli - former starter
It is a crude way to look at it, but 80% of the top 10 saves guys in the Majors as of today were starting pitchers at some point in their careers.
The traditional idea of using every good arm as a starter, initially, is changing. MLB.com published an article on this point on May 31.
The downward trend on offense is largely the function of power arms in the bullpen. Guys coming in throwing 99 MPH, one after the other.
As a result, teams are identifying guys as relievers earlier and earlier. Even colleges are using top arms in the pen.
The Reds recognize this. The devotion of Chapman to the pen relatively early in his career is a key example. Kimbrel is viewed as an important example as well.
I think we'll find that the modern thinking on this will follow these examples. Teams will more aggressively allocate their top arms between the rotation and the pen, depending on their view of suitability for each role.
It won't always happen immediately upon the draft. Some guys will begin their development in the rotation and switch, and vice versa. But I think we'll see these decisions be made earlier in development. That will be the modern trend IMO.
Last edited by Kc61; 08-18-2013 at 02:10 AM.
I hope it isn't a trend because it is just a bad idea to limit the impact an elite level arm can have. Elite level bullpen arms can be made from fringy starting pitchers.
Teams like the Braves and Pirates have successfully put much reliance on their pens and achieved great success so far. The average NL OPS against bullpens is lower than against starters.
So teams are unwilling simply to rely on failed starters or the waiver wire for relievers. It's becoming too important.
I don't see us aligning our views on how to assemble a bullpen anytime soon, but I don't understand your point about making the decision to groom prospects as relievers earlier. What's the benefit of that? You can take a bunch of starters and put them in the pen at the drop of a hat. It doesn't work the other way. By allocating a certain number of high upside arms to the pen at twenty or twenty one years old, haven't you just dwindled your supply of starting prospects for no reason?
Last edited by Superdude; 08-18-2013 at 03:49 AM.
As a starter, the pitcher needs to learn multiple pitches, it takes a longer time, more coaching in the minors. A guy like Leake is an exception, a very polished college starting pitcher, but a pitcher like Lorenzen, a relatively raw pitcher who throws very hard, can often be in the bigs much more quickly in the pen.
In terms of dwindling the supply of starting pitchers, keep in mind that there are only five starting spots. Yes, you need depth, but the late inning relief spots are important too.
In terms of the Reds, neither Broxton nor Chapman has ever started a game in the major leagues. In both cases the decision was made relatively early to move them to the pen. These decisions today are being made even earlier.
Not saying every prospect should be made a reliever, not saying you can't have guys that switch from starting to relief, or vice versa. Just once in awhile it makes sense to take a very good arm and devote it to relief.
Last edited by Kc61; 08-18-2013 at 11:26 AM.
I will never buy the idea that it makes sense to take a good arm and devote it to the bullpen without exhausting the idea of starting it first. Mechanics plays the biggest role for me. Bad mechanics that you can't change? Sure, bullpen. Otherwise, you put big arms in the rotation and hope it works out. If it hasn't by 23-24, you move them to the bullpen when they are already in AA and fast track them. If you have any kind of depth at all in your system, you can do that every single year.
Last year the Reds made the move with Partch and Ravin. This year it has been Lotzkar. Potential other options are Rogers, Smith, Crabbe and Renken (who was just moved to the bullpen). Contreras is going to be in the bullpen, though I think they really should explore the option of him as a starter longer.
The only way to have relievers throwing 98 and blowing guys away is to put those kinds of arms in the bullpen occasionally.
Sam LeCure seems to be doing just fine topping out at 90.
JJ Hoover is awfully good throwing mostly 91-93.
Tim Crabbe is a guy who can hit 95 as a starter. Tossing him in the bullpen could put him into that category regularly.
I am not saying you don't eventually put guys in the bullpen. I am saying you try them as starters for a while before making that move because starters are just so much more valuable than relievers and even iffy starters can be turned into very good relievers.