Home runs, blown saves, and a habit of breaking your heart: these are the things that defined the Reds’ bullpen in 2016. Not even a year later, what was a major detriment for the Reds in 2016 has turned out to be a major catalyst for them in 2017. Stale inconsistent veteran pitching has been replaced with youthful arms eager to make an impact.

In 2016 the Reds bullpen was bad…like historically bad. The pitching staff as a whole gave up 258 home runs (MLB record) with the bullpen alone accounting for 103 of them. The bullpen ranked dead last in all of baseball in earned runs, walks, saves, OBP, WHIP, home runs, and OPS. They were consistently ranked in the bottom 5 in every major statistical pitching category.

The start of 2017 has been anything but the same. The Reds bullpen has been one of the strongest parts of their team. They are currently ranked third in the NL in earned runs, first in OBP and OPS, and in the top five in every major statistical category. Red’s relievers aren’t allowing guys to get on base, aren’t giving up home runs, and are simply shutting teams down. The performance between last year’s bullpen and this year’s has been night and day.

The key to success that the Red’s bullpen has been having so far this season can be traced back to an addition by subtraction. They have let poor veteran pitchers like Jumbo Diaz and Ross Ohlendorf go and have relied on an improved young core of relief pitchers. Players like Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, and Wandy Peralta have all been called on to take a more prominent role in the bullpen and each has responded nicely. Peralta and Iglesias in particular have been lights out and sport a sub 2 ERA and a sub 1 WHIP. The addition of veteran free agent Drew Storen has also bolstered the bullpen. Storen has been dominant so far this year and also owns a sub 2 ERA and a sub 1 WHIP.

Although it may not affect an individual reliever’s performance much, I think there is also something to be said for how Bryan Price has managed the bullpen so far this season. In my opinion, Price has done a masterful job of bringing the right guys in in the right situations. He is using his best relievers in high leverage situations and has been maxing out the potential of his bullpen by bringing in the best reliever for the right situation. In essence, he is setting the bullpen up for success.

It’s not shocking that the bullpen has improved since last season; it’s just how much it has improved that has taken people by surprise. To see such a dominant group of young starting pitchers with such great “stuff” is exciting for this season and beyond.

Jeff is Cincinnati born, Ohio University educated. Reds baseball has been a central theme of his family ever since his mom and dad helped him skip school to attend Opening Day. Jeff has been accused of having a “man crush” on Joey Votto and longs for the day that he gets to witness the Reds finally win a playoff series. You can follow him on Twitter @Gaaangs

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. I thought you were gonna make a special little mention about last nights horrible performance vs the NYY (Storen included… what happened there…geez, am I right?). But, yes, the bullpen has been largely fantastic this year.

    • Not going to lie…I was watching the game last night and was thinking “oh great, glad im posting tomorrow on how fantastic THIS bullpen is.” Seriously though, they have been great…excluding last night.

      • Jeff, actually that first game vs NYY was the 2nd or 3rd time this year our BP has completely blown up. I guess they’re still experiencing some growing pains. I hate growing pains. But the BP rebounded nicely in tonight’s second game vs the NYY.

  2. I bugged out when it appeared to get out of hand. Checked the scores only to see we kept giving them runs even when we got them.

    As I said to my Yank fan friends, somebody’s streak was going to end last night. New streaks can start anytime.

  3. When will Ariel Hernandez return to the Reds bullpen? He is a much better option than Blake Wood.
    Get Cingrani back off of the DL, call up Hernandez and give Wood his release and this bullpen is on is way to being tops in the NL.
    What a turnaround from last year. Thanks for giving Bryan Price a little credit for this. He deserves some. I chuckle at all the Fire Price haters from last year now patting him on the back. (Not a comment directed at Jeff, not lumping you in with the Fire Pricers).

    • This seems a bit extreme. In 90 innings over the last two years for the Reds, Wood has an ERA under 4.00 with peripherals indicating it’s not luck. He’s been better than Cingrani.

      • Not really too harsh. Two of the better evaluators for relievers are WHIP and BABIP. Wood’s are just too high at 1.47/.341.
        My bullpen today would be
        Iglesias (0.80/.206) WHIP/BABIP
        Lorenzen (1.04/.277)
        Peralta (0.59/.120)
        Storen (1.00/.243)
        Hernandez (0.00/0.00)
        Brice (0.75/.286)
        Cingrani (1.07/.250)

        • It’s been shown that pitchers have some control over BABIP but not a ton. .341 suggests he’s been pretty unlucky. That could also drive up his WHIP some.

    • Not sure I agree on ditching Blake Wood. He isn’t the worst pitcher in the pen by a long way and can be used in a multitude of situations. He walks too many but overall he’s a fair pitcher. His ERA+ this year and last year have been better than league average. He doesn’t make a bunch of $$. If you’re insistent on getting rid of him (I disagree) then you could probably get a warm body for him in trade.

  4. Certainly the bullpen is better.They have young power arms outside of Storen and Wood is what 30 but still can bring it.I hope we see the injured guys come back so we can see what we have with Homer,Disco,Finny,Garrett and pick one from the rest.Just think if we could get to the 6th or 7th consistently and still be in the game.Future is bright for the Reds if we could just get healthy.

  5. I heard a stat on WLW yesterday before before the game with the Yankees that provided a good contrast between ’16 and ’17. I don’t remember the source of it, but it was that in 2016, through 31 games, the Reds had allowed 55 runs in the 8th and 9th innings and extra innings. Through 31 games this year, the Reds had allowed 11 runs in the 8th and 9th innings and extras. That would explain the emotional ‘scars’ that I think are still there. .

  6. “In essence, he [Price] is setting the bullpen up for success.”

    Hmmm…I’m not sure I’m willing to push that button and certainly not yet. We still see too many situations where his decisions work out, but shouldn’t have been made. Of course the flip side of that coin is decisions that were made completely properly and appropriately, that didn’t work out. Such results happen, especially with bullpen management. Price seems to have a knack for making weird, pointless double switches that simply burn a bench bat and a bullpen arm. When the bullpen is performing at virtually every opportunity, it’s hard to make a bad decision and therefore by default the bullpen is set up for success with little impact by Price and the decisions he makes. There is certainly no question, the quality in the bullpen was dramatically upgraded from last season and the addition by subtraction analogy is completely appropriate. I hope Price had input into the roster decisions during the offseason, spring training and early season, but those actual decisions fall under DW’s ultimate responsibility. Perhaps an additional addition by subtraction for bullpen improvement was the replacement of WJ by DW.

    I hope the bullpen’s early success continues and the starting rotation jumps on board with their own success. I hope the Reds succeed with Price at the helm, but I still question his capability as a manager.

  7. Better pitchers in the bullpen leads to more decisions “working out.” The same will be true with the everyday players and the bench. When you have to send Stuart Turner up to pinch hint your chances of making a good decision is pretty slim.

  8. Reds BP has pitched 128 innings in 32 games. They are averaging 4 innings/game. If that rate plays out for the season, they would need 8 relievers to pitch 81 innings apiece. Last year there were 6 relievers in all of the major leagues who pitched 80 or more innings.

    The Reds can’t give up on Wood or anybody who is pitching close to league average. It’s almost certain that we have not seen the last of Hernandez this year either. And likely we will see some other new names called up from the minors before the season is over.

  9. The starting staff is Amir and a lot of duct tape. I think price should be using the left handed bats on the bench more

Comments are closed.

About Jeff Gangloff

Jeff is Cincinnati born, Ohio University educated. Reds baseball has been a central theme of his family ever since his mom and dad helped him skip school to attend Opening Day. Jeff has been accused of having a "man crush" on Joey Votto and longs for the day that he gets to witness the Reds finally win a playoff series. You can follow him on Twitter @Gaaangs


2017 Reds


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