2016 Reds

The Bullpen: Scrap It. The Rotation: Double It

At the quarter pole of the 2016 season the Reds are bad, really bad.  One could say they have met and exceeded any expectations of futility; before the season I expected the Reds to lose at least 90 games…and not only are they likely to lose at least 90 games, they are going to do so in a manner rarely before seen.  No matter how you analyze this team, it is difficult to find positive pieces on the macro level.  I am a realist, and I understand that this rebuild will be difficult and take time, I only wish there was a way to work through this rebuild in a way that wasn’t so toxic to the fans.

There is plenty of blame to go around on why this team has struggled so badly; you can point to the offense and the anemic numbers as compared to other teams in the National League:

11th in team batting average

2nd to last in team OBP

Last in walks drawn

13th in hits

The list of accomplishments or lack thereof as it relates to the Reds prowess at the plate this year are underwhelming…but not historically bad.  Especially when you compare that to the “work” done by the pitching staff, specifically the eater of world’s bullpen Price has to work with on a game to game basis.  I am fully aware of the laundry list of injuries this team has dealt with this year…but I won’t make any excuses… the Reds simply don’t have Major League talent on their staff at this point in time…and what is coming out of the bullpen is hardly talent at all.

So what to do?  How can the Reds front office continue to work on this rebuild in a way that doesn’t want to make Reds fans reminisce of the good old days when the Reds were a 3rd place team in the National League Central?  There is an old saying; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…well, today I am recommending a new saying:  IF IT’S BROKE…DON’T FIX IT…THROW IT AWAY AND TRY SOMETHING NEW.

For the past 6 weeks I have watched and listened to those in Reds country criticize and critique the use of the bullpen.  “the Reds should call up this guy” and “cut this player.”  “I can’t believe Price brought this guy in to pitch the 8th!”  And so on…all of this is fair…but the bottom line is that the Reds don’t have pros in the bullpen…so why remake it?  GET RID OF THE BULLPEN!

That’s right…I said it.  The Reds should play without a bullpen.  Leading the planet in blown saves is a correctable stat if you are waiting for Mariano Rivera to get off the DL…but this team doesn’t have Mo Rivera…they don’t have his long lost cousin Bo Rivera either…why continue the madness?  Get rid of the bullpen.

Here is my solution…one that I hope would make the Reds season more palatable in the second half…and who knows…maybe change the course of baseball history.  And at the very least, give the Reds a better idea of who is going to cut it going into 2017 and beyond.  Once the Reds reach the second half of the season, and issues of major league service time and pitcher health begin to wash away, the Reds should move forward with a 10-man, alternating rotation.  Let me explain:  on the Reds 40 man roster, there are 10 pitchers who figure to have a chance at being in the rotation next season.  These 10 arms are a mix of young and old…lefty and righty…major league vets and guys who have never reached the show.  In an effort to get a look at all of these arms…as well as preserve pitch count as the season goes on, the Reds should initiate a 10 man rotation where pitchers are paired together to make starts on a 5 game rotating basis.  The 10 pitchers would be:

Bailey, Iglesias, DeSclafani, Lorenzen, Reed, Stephenson, Finnegan, Lamb, Adleman and Moscot.

Picture a scenario where these 10 pitchers are paired together, each with a pitch count of approximately 75 pitches per game.  Your 5 game rotation could be as follows: Bailey and Lamb. Iglesias and Finnegan. DeSclafani and Reed. Stephenson and Adleman.  Lorenzen and Moscot.

The Reds could start the game with one starter…let him go 4-5 innings…and replace him with another starter to go another 4-5 innings.  Of course, you keep 2-3 bullpen arms, perhaps Cingrani, Straily and Wood so that if you need a guy for one out to end an inning you can make the change.

For the short term and the rest of this season, this idea holds water for several reasons; first, you keep pitch count down…and with guys coming back from injury as well as young arms to protect, the shorter starts help in this way.  Additionally, the Reds get to take a look at 10 plausible arms for next year’s rotation.  Finally, we eliminate the overwhelmingly worst and most unwatchable part of this team; the bullpen as it is currently constructed.  The vast majority of bullpen pitchers are in the bullpen because they aren’t cut out to be starters; they only have one go-to pitch…don’t have strike zone consistency, etc.  So why continue to watch the Reds build a lead through 5 or 6 innings to watch the bullpen give it away?  Don’t fix it…just eliminate it.

Am I proposing this as a long-term fix?  No.  But what do the Reds have to lose?  There is no way this system makes them less competitive then they are right now.  There is no way this doesn’t give the Reds front office the best chance to view talent and protect its young and rehabilitating arms…so why not?  Would it really hurt for the Reds to try to be trendsetters and get ahead of the curve?  As the Reds complete the month of May, they do so with a pitching staff that is last or second to last in the National League in WHIP, BA against, Walks, Strikeouts, ERA and Runs Allowed…Dear Walt and Dick…don’t fix it.  Throw it away and start over with something new!

 

25 thoughts on “The Bullpen: Scrap It. The Rotation: Double It

  1. Love this idea. It’s the kind of transformational change we need to see what the future looks like. Its smart – and that means it has near-zero chance of happening.

    #Our.Lousy.Bullpen

  2. This is rather outside the box. FOR TODAY’S “MODERN” GAME. But it is what is needed. This is audition time. Let’s see who’s game while protecting the wounded.
    However, this is much more traditional than you think. iIf you think back to the days ( pre 90’s ) before bullpen specialization. Relief pitchers actually pitched 3-4 innings at a time when they came in a game. Goose Gossage, Pedro Borbon, Clay Carroll all pitched multiple innings per appearance in the 70’s to finish games. And it was the same in the 60’s, 50’s ….. usually no more than 2 pitchers would appear in a normal game. Throwback jerseys should be the standard and make it the theme of the season.

  3. News on the bullpen front: AJ Morris, Dayan Diaz, and Josh Smith called up from AAA. Sounds as if Daniel Wright will start Tuesday possibly replacing Selsky? At least thr Reds are finally shaking things up in the bullpen, giving some younger guys a chance. Thats what I expected in a rebuild, not guys like Simon trotting out every 5 days (guess who starts today). Not a revolutionary and bold as this article describes but something!

    • Diaz 1.88 ERA and 2.5 BB/9, 4.4 K/9 (age 27) 14.1 IP as Reliever
      Morris 2.70 ERA and 2.7 BB/9, 6.3 K/9 (age 29) 30 IP as Starter/Reliever
      Smith 3.86 ERA and 2.8 BB/9, 7.3 K/9 (28) 42 IP as Starter
      Wright 1.29 ERA and 0.6 BB/9, 6.4 K/9 (25) 14 IP as Starter

      Disco and Yorman moved to 60 day DL to make room on 40 man Roster. They’ll have to DFA Selsky if/when Wright starts.

      • There may be better DFA candidates than Selsky. Like, anyone who has attributed to the dumpster fire in our bullpen

      • All stats from Baseball-Reference.
        I predict they’ll replace Selsky, but I’d rather see Pacheco cut or DFA’d. Give Selsky a shot and see if he can be a good bat off the bench.

  4. I would really love to see all these pitchers get their shot, and for the young pitchers trying to prove themselves it may be ok.

    But if I was Homer Bailey and possibly to a lesser extent, I may take a little umbrage to it. As Crash Davis said, “After 12 years in the minor leagues, I don’t try out.”

  5. I like your ideas with the paired pitchers. Just read on M L Rumors the reds newest moves. Duyan Diaz, A J Morris and Josh Smith promoted to the majors, Disco and Y. Rodriquez moved to the 60 day D L list.

  6. If Pasta has yet another bad game for the ages today, I think it’s time to cut bait there as well, end this relatively cheap but horrifically unsuccessful experiment, and send him packing with a DFA as well. Give a young prospect with ANY upside the chance for those starts, and maybe build a learning curve. The Innings Eater (Jocketty TM?) apparently can now only eat any remaining team confidence…and whatever is on the dinner plate in front of him.

  7. Are any of our pitchers in any danger of going over there allowed inning limit?

    On the other hand, pairing two pitchers who have different styles of pitching, would make it very difficult on the batters.

    That is an outcome devoutly to be desired.

  8. Why Not? The only issue I see is if you have an injury say to the starter in the second inning, or you go into extended extra innings. Of course you could adjust on the fly if necessary. I am with Normich Red it is time to cut bait with Simon.

  9. Why not? I don’t see any way that this current old school by the book mode could possibly be worse than the experiment you propose Matt. And for now coming off injuries I’m fine including Bailey and Disco in this plan as well. If Price can bat the pitcher eighth at times, why not a new approach to the staff?

  10. A wonderful “out of the box” idea. You still have two shitty pitchers in the pen however. It would still be better than current situation

  11. This would be amazing!!!! Seriously what the heck do the reds have to lose????? Think outside the box is something this organization needs I believe!!! This cannot be any worse than what is happening now in redleg nation!!!! Go for it!!!

  12. An interesting idea, and certainly creative problem solving. I think this year with injuries and horrible bullpen would be a good idea to institute such a plan. It’s not as foreign to baseball as one might think either, as minor league clubs use the “piggy-back” approach of having two or more starters scheduled for the same game regularly, especially in the lower levels.

    The only tweaks I’d suggest would be due to building innings for some of the more experienced starting pitchers for the future. Homer and Disco have proven capable of handling a full seasons worth of innings and after getting a late start I would want to see them pitch fuller games as they get their legs under them. That way they won’t start next year with more than 100 innings under their belt this year. Same for Reed and Stephenson who have proven healthy so far this year. They will need to build on innings for next season if we want them to hold up all year.

    Iglesias, Finnegan, Lamb, Lorenzen, etc weren’t likely to pitch full season loads regardless, as it would have been a big jump from their previous years.

    My goal would be to see Homer, Disco, Stephenson, and Reed get through 6-7 innings (depending on game situations, pitch counts, score) and have guys that profile better as relievers scheduled to follow them for 2-3 inning stints. Guys like Straily, Adelman, Lorenzen, Lamb, or Moscot would fill these roles. I’d let Iglesias and Finnegan split the remaining, maybe even switching up which one starts based on match ups.

    I just think looking toward next year, these starters are going to have to build up innings if we want them to go full years. But an excellent plan to get through the rest of the year.

  13. The players union would go nuts because it would be difficult to distinguish a starter from a reliever….which has a huge impact at arbitration time.

    It will never happen.

  14. My own thought, a bit less radical, was to use a 6-man rotation once everybody (or at least 6 of the everybodies) is good to go. Maybe even a 7-man, which would allow one guy to be available for relief midway between his starts.

    Another idea I’ve had is assign a reliever to start the game and go through the order one time, then bring in the scheduled starter, with the idea that he could get it to the 8th inning, hoping that one guy will have emerged as a closer. If the bullpen guy struggled to start the game, then they could just bring in the regular starter on in the first or second inning. The downside of this idea, obviously, is that Hoover the Groover starts the game, gives up 4 quickies, and they start every game down 4-0. But you could pick the starting reliever, based on how the opponent’s lineup shapes up: bunch of lefties, then start a lefty reliever, if only the Reds had one.

    They may as well experiment, for the reasons you suggest. If Votto were contributing like he ought to be contributing, the Reds would at least be mid-pack in offense.

  15. Get rid of Adelman, and use Strailly instead, and I think you are there. Getting the pitchers to buy into this might not be that easy, but this season is a disaster already.

    A very good and out-of -the-box way of evaluating all the talent on hand.

  16. interesting angle. But it’s not really a change. When these 10 guys get back, the Reds will pick 5 of them to be starters anyway. The other 5 will be either appearing in later innings if they stay on the roster, which means they’ll be basically relieving, no matter how you parse it, or be sent back to Louisville where they can work on their starting skills there. If you come into a game in the 6th inning, it’s “relieving” whether or not you come in for 1 inning, or 4 innings. It’s a completely different type of pitching than starting. Starters and relievers are not interchangable. When you start a game, it’s a 0-0 game, fresh energy. You know the night before it’s your turn. You prep. You also long toss in between starts. Relievers have to get up every night or so, and get loose, so they aren’t run out there for long outings or their arms would fall off. I realized your idea is kinda like an extended spring training, to a degree, but among other problems, if one of the new starters flops in the 3 or 4th inning, do you leave him out there to get blasted because your system sez he pitches 5 innings and you have no relievers? And how are you developing relievers for next year? Isn’t that where the most development is needed? OF course it is. So get cracking on it now. Find out if any of these guys have what it takes this year. Nice effort at thinking out of the box, but unfortunately there are no shortcuts to getting past the long tedious painful process of rebuilding.

  17. Way, way, way out of the box. Not even in the same warehouse. This might not even be in the same warehousing center. It’s a neat idea. Not sure how it would work. In theory I could see it working. That said, I think it’s so far out of the realm of the normal that no professional team, especially the Reds, would implement it.

  18. Your 10 man rotation would have to be able to get to the magic pitch count before the 3rd inning as I’m not confident they are able to do that on a regular basis.

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