The Not-So-Mighty Pen

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Before this past Monday’s game against Pittsburgh, the Reds announced that Tony Cingrani would transition to the bullpen. The left-handed rookie, who was a closer at Rice, should provide some short-term relief for the bullpen. I don’t think this was a move that the Reds brass necessarily wanted to make, but ultimately didn’t have much of a choice with the current trend of the bullpen. The Reds are ranked ninth in the National League for relievers with an ERA of 3.75.

Cingrani has pitched in three games, allowing one hit and striking out six in 2.1 innings of work. Cincinnati has also benefitted from recent call-up Curtis Partch (save from getting tossed in the lion’s den and allowing a grand slam to the first batter he faced), who has pitched seven innings for the club, allowing three hits and striking out eight. While these brief numbers are not the cure, they could go a long way in steadying the bullpen’s ship until the All-Star break.

Cincinnati’s bullpen has been decimated with injuries, as well as the absence of reliever Jose Arredondo. With injuries to Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and Nick Masset, it is easy to see why the Reds bullpen has been struggling. Manager Dusty Baker plays the game by the book; Aroldis Chapman will continue to pitch the ninth inning of tight ballgames and nothing more.  Chapman may be the Reds best reliever at the moment, but they treat his arm like fine China, and they simply do not want to put him in different situations.

But along with the injuries, the previously reliable bullpen relievers have not translated this season.  J.J. Hoover (4.55 ERA), Broxton (4.33 ERA), Manny Parra (6.00 ERA), and Logan Ondrusek (optioned to Triple-A Louisville) have failed to perform to expectations.  This may also be a product of the injuries taking a toll on the remaining relievers, many of whom are now forced to pitch in different roles and situations.

The Reds embark today on an eight game road trip out west to face Arizona, Oakland, and Texas. The club then comes home for a seven game stand, including four games against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.   This slate will be a telling sign of how the bullpen can hold up until Broxton and Marshall return to the club.

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