The Cincinnati Reds signed Raisel Iglesias to a 3-year, $24.125M deal this offseason. The deal wasn’t an extension, but simply a way to guarantee his money due in 2019-2021 rather than go through the arbitration process in each of those years. At the time the deal was signed, the Reds seemed to be  hinting at the usage of Iglesias in a non-traditional closers role.

David (Bell) and Derek (Johnson) will spend time with Raisel over the winter,” Dick Williams said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with. The more we see an elite arm like this, the better off we are as a team. This gives us the flexibility, and David and Derek are of the mind they want the flexibility to be able to use [him] whenever the situation calls for it.”

If you’re reading this, then you have surely been following the Reds this season. And that means you’ve seen that Raisel Iglesias has had some struggles on the mound. He’s already lost five games this season. His ERA is at 4.86, in large part due to the fact that he’s served up four home runs in 16.2 innings.

The fact is, at least to this point in the season, Raisel Iglesias has struggled pitching for the Cincinnati Reds. He told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer this:

The way they are using me is horribly wrong.

There are some things that are confusing with all of this. As noted in the Nigthengale article, Iglesias at the time of his new deal seemed to be on board with a bit of a different kind of usage. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.

One thing that the Reds reliever noted was that other closers don’t pitch in tie games. Redleg Nation’s own Matt Wilkes pointed out on twitter that that belief isn’t exactly true.

As you can see, Raisel Iglesias is at the top of that list. But he’s not exactly running away from everyone else, either.

The usage of Raisel Iglesias is different than what it has been in the past. Somewhat. He has been used in multi-innings in the past. And he has been used in some tie games in the past, too. But things are a little more of each this year. And it’s also clear that the struggles are getting to Iglesias a bit, too. It might be time for manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson to have another talk with their reliever about how he’s being used, why he’s being used that way, and try to get everyone on the same page.

53 Responses

  1. Doc

    It does call into question DB comments just a day or two ago about how everybody is on the same page, willing to do whatever it takes to win. Didn’t seem Kemp was on board, and he is gone. Doesn’t seem Iglesius is on board, although what I saw of him in ST, he was not ready for the season. Seems as though too many players think of ST as a time you just have to endure until real baseball starts. Any wonder why three guys fighting for CF were three of the best this spring (Senzel, Schebler and Ervin).

  2. Amarillo

    I’m sure Iglesias is frustrated that he hasn’t been his best, but complaining to the media is never helpful.

      • Gaffer

        Why would it matter to a pitcher whether it is tied or his team is ahead.

        Iglesias has stunk and lost us games. How is that anyone else’s fault?

  3. Jordan Barhorst

    Can’t demand things of your team with a 5 ERA. Simple as that. If you want a better role, pitch better. Work with the staff, work with teammates, whatever it takes. He might be doing all of this, but this statement makes that seem unlikely.

    • Scott Carter

      Right on! He pitches better and things will work out for him.

  4. Satchmo

    He’s not happy with the ways he’s being used; I’m not happy with how he pitches when is used.

    There, we’re even. Stop complaining, you spoiled millionaire.

    • JOHN C CAREY

      Management, use of this pitcher is horribly wrong. The pitching is okay, but the Reds are horribly wrong.

      Warped logic, in any language.

  5. matthew hendley

    Couple thought.
    1. Were these comments made in English? Or a Spanish translation? Is It possible that something was lost in translation?

    2. Rasiel, like every other MLB player, has an agent. In this scenario the Agent is supposed to be the bad guy and make these sort of comments. That he didn’t, probably indicates that this is not the first time the issue has come up. He probably has the feeling his concerns are being ignored, even if the FO doesn’t talk to him, his agent sure as heck is.

    3. Comments aside, he may be onto something, the original article noted a significant difference of his stats between Save and non save situations, and he is MUCH better in save situation. (last Friday, not withstanding).
    4. Do not expect Rasiel to be released. Traded? The reds are not eating 30 million dollars. There will be some middle ground here, the reds have the opportunity to put other RP into these positions (tie home games), improving their status. At this point with their results this is what the reds should do anyway.
    5. the person who knows Rasiel Iglesias the best is Rasiel Iglesias. Its on DB and NW to see if their is an underlying problem as well.

    • Schottzie

      This is a very good post. The problem however is the reds had a guy who arguably could have gotten them an org top 3 prospect to likely now fetching someone akin to Jeter Downs in return.

      …that’s a deal I would make by the way.

    • Jefferson Green

      I agree that something could definitely be lost in translation, and that includes cultural understanding of how complaining to the press will be taken by his team mates, coaches, and fans. I do not think it is a definite conclusion that he has worked through his agent to talk to the front office about his usage; there are many cases of frustrated players venting without a plan with their agent in advance. I also think it is important to note that while the person who knows that person the best is that person, there are holes (blindspots) in everyone’s perception of themselves, and it is imperative that coaches help individuals see these (this applies to all walks of life, not just ball players). Mostly, I hope this is all much ado about nothing in the long run. The Reds have the best ERA in the league and are tops in WAR value among all pitching staffs (Fangraphs) – I like that!

      • ToBeDetermined

        “and that includes cultural understanding of how complaining to the press will be taken by his team mates, coaches, and fans.”

        Seriously ?
        This guy is from Cuba.
        You say something bad about Fidel and its off to a so called camp for you.

      • greenmtred

        Fidel isn’t around anymore, and complaining about your role as a relief pitcher and complaining about your country’s chief executive are probably two different things. He’s frustrated and probably down’t know why he isn’t getting results, particularly because he is still, on occasion, unhittable. Most people have spoken rashly at some points in their lives.

      • Jefferson Green

        TBD – all cultures and languages (and dialects, for that matter) differ in how they communicate various sentiments. As one who has spent time overseas, it is difficult to know how crass you are sounding in a second language, and misunderstandings are common, even if you know the denotation of every word you spoke. I do not want to assume what and how much he knows about these nuances – that wouldn’t be fair since I do not know him, but I can vouch for how easy it is to make a mistake that communicates very differently than expected. And yes, having lived in a country with a dictator like Castro would skew your sense of what is OK to vent publicly.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Gentlemen
        So, you think there is a misunderstanding going on here.
        So what is it you think he’s trying to say ?

      • Jefferson Green

        My point is only that we don’t know how precisely and literally to take his comments – we will probably find out over time (at least to some extent).

    • lwblogger2

      Quite well thought out. Look, I’m of the mind that a guy should pitch when the team needs him to pitch but there are some good points here and players at this level do have more influence over how they are used.

      I posted in the last thread how I’d handle it if I were manager. I don’t envy Bell at all in this. I don’t know if the usage should change but Bell needs to at least address Iglesias’ concerns and make him understand that he is listening to those concerns. He needs to then explain why Iglesias is being used as he is and then work with Iglesias to set Iglesias’ expectations of how he is going to be used. Maybe it is less tie games but I’d use Wes’ data above and data from the last couple years to show Iglesias that it is not at all unusual for a closer to come in during a tie game. Explaining how this is especially true at home, in the 9th of a tie game when no save opportunity will present itself.

  6. FreeHouse

    He’s not happy with his role because he’s been getting lit up. Step your game Raisel! Your spring training has carried over to the regular season. Stop complaining and worry about getting back on track and helping this team.

  7. MARK MOORE

    “Pure Closers” aren’t worth what they are paid in my opinion. If he’s unhappy, ask for a trade. Oh, wait … his performance this year won’t get much of anything in return. Should have traded him off-season at this rate.

    BTW, who is Kimbrel playing for?

  8. JB WV

    9 punchouts in a row. Obviously he still has extreme talent. But mercurial? Absolutely. New coaching staff, some struggles; tough for a primadonna. Too bad. You signed an extension, pitch like it.

  9. Andy

    Just so I’m square Iglesias wants to be used in save situations only. Because apparently tied games are too much pressure or just not his cup of tea?

    Ohhh that is Rich. When did we get to the point that Iglesias bloated era is David bells fault and not his flat sliders fault?

    I will say though I really hope David bell stops trying to play 3D checkers with his relievers. Just let a guy (Garrett) who
    Is blowing away guys in an inning finish said inning.

    I can count 3-4 losses that may have gone different with a little hands off bp management

  10. Chris Holbert

    Am I wrong, or is he a professional. DB said at the beginning of the year, he was going to use him in important places in the game. I think ties in extra innings would qualify. Closing and extra innings, how much more important does it get. I suppose if he was pitching fine in these undesirable situations, he would say he loves how he is being used.

  11. Patrick Jeter

    Well, that’s a shame.

    Not much of a surprise, really. The kind of guys who want to be “closers” instead of just pitchers seem to be short on a lot of good qualities, such as airing your dirty laundry in the media.

    With Dietrich, Winker, and Co the team seems to have a really good personality forming. Would be a shame if something like this destabilized from within.

  12. Hanawi

    Whether entering in the 8th, 9th or later; tie game or ahead, the fact is that he’s only had 4 clean appearances (no hits allowed) all year in 15 games. 3 of those coming against the Padres.

  13. I-71_Exile

    Raisel has to adjust his mindset or find a way to generate his own adrenaline for non-save situations or he’s going to limit his value to the team. He’s not the first closer to pitch poorly in non-save situations.

  14. Sandman

    He ain’t up to the task/duties of his expanded role (when he thought he would be) and now he’s wanting to blame the mgr.

  15. Brian

    He’s having less success than he’s used to so he searching for anything he can to blame and rationalize his poor performance. Athletes often need to believe they are gods to be successful, it’s a mindset. So that fact that he is getting raked isn’t his “fault” in his head because it can’t be. He’s just too good for it to be his fault. That’s how a lot of pro athletes have to think to achieve their most success.

    It’s like when Julio Jones swaps out a pair of gloves after dropping a pass, it can’t be his fault, that’s not how a lot of them are wired. I have no problem with that if that’s what he needs to be to be successful, just don’t complain to the media about it haha.

    • Pete

      There is a lot of truth here. Let’s hope it’s a one day event and just blows over. I would like to know what his stat line looks like after he pitches more than one inning in an appearance. Seems to my poor memory, Chapman had some issues in this area.

    • I-71_Exile

      “Don’t worry Ricky, you’re still the best.”

      —Ricky

  16. jessecuster44

    Kimbrel is still available, right?

    • lwblogger2

      Sure but he wants a ton of money and he’s likely going to voice the same complaints. In my opinion the Reds would just be paying more money to someone to have perhaps the same problem. Of course Kimbrel may be ok being put into tie games in the 9th at home because he’s been used that way, as have all closers.

  17. Jefferson Green

    Critically important note: the Reds have the best staff ERA in the league and the top WAR from their pitching staff (Fangraphs). The new coaching and front office regimes, methods, data, and approach are working effectively, despite Raisel’s ineffectiveness. While there are some moves that feel like over-managing and mis-using some players (especially in the bull pen), their is great merit in how this staff has been constructed and handled overall, and the results are night and day different from last year. The coaching staff and their now-heavily-involved front office mates are still new and learning how to best operate, and we should only see improvement in their decisions over the rest of the season. It all bodes well for the future.

    • Pete

      Agree. Looking at Raisel’s heatmaps at Fangraphs I note two things:

      In 2018, he pitched far more down in the strike zone. It’s startling to see the contrast with 2018. Maybe the Reds changed their philosophy to RI throwing more high heat but…

      It has backfired spectacularly. Looking at SLG/P map, he is getting absolutely hammered at the top of the zone.

      Maybe be Doug or one of the other savants here at RLN can confirm or refute my observations. You would think with Iglesias’ high velocity FB pitching up in the zone would be productive. Per the heatmaps, it is anything but. If I’m right, his issues can be corrected by reverting back to 2018’s pitch location.

      • WVRedlegs

        Good point.
        Pitching up in the strike zone at 96-97 mph is different than pitching up in the zone at 91-92 mph. That is the reason to pitch up at the top of the strike zone is that for a hitter it is difficult to get the bat around in time on the pitch most of the time. But when it is coming in softer at 91-92 mph the hitters have a better chance to barrel up that pitch.
        And we have heard several reports that Iglesias’s fastball has been at 91-92 a lot in spring training and so far this season. He still brings it at 96-97, so not sure why the decreased velocity from Iglesias.

      • ohiojim

        Twice in 3 days they had to call up an extra reliever which infers availability issues among the relief corps.

        Iglesias is pitching poorly or at least erratically. The reference to the difference in his locations could be an indicator of command issues. Command issues are often an indicator of physical issues. The player is suddenly not happy with how is being used which sometimes are also an indicator of physical issues.

        I know nothing; but, the situation bears keeping an eye on from this vantage point.

      • Jefferson Green

        It feels like some of his mistakes up in the zone that have been hammered for key runs against Raisel have been on his slider, not his fastball, and it is when they hang up at around 90 mph, easy hitting speed and zone for big league hitters.

      • Pete

        JG – looking at the heatmaps, he is throwing the slider much more in the zone, period in 2019. He is throwing his FB much higher in the zone as well. But they are hitting the slider and FB, both pitches are up in the zone compared to 2018. His FB% is also much higher this year.

        OhioJim – you may be on to something. RI, as far as I know, has never been a malcontent in the past. I’d cut him big time slack on this infraction until we see a pattern.

      • WVRedlegs

        Maybe a little bit of pine tar will help with Iglesias’s slider. That was one of the chief complaints from pitchers last year was about the baseball being different somehow. Pitchers were not getting the grip on the ball like they did in the past and thus when they threw their sliders, they were not getting much break or bite on the pitch and leaving it out over the plate to get hammered.
        But if it is a physical impairment with his shoulder again or his elbow, all the pine tar in the world won’t help with his slider.
        As Jim said, it bears watching.

  18. TR

    The Reds should not make too much of Raisel’s comment. Have a meeting, get Iglesias on the right track, and when appropriate include him in a big trade. His contract should be appealing to many clubs.

  19. indydoug

    If not a translation issue, then BooHoo. Suck it up and perform better.

    • TR

      I doubt it’s a translation issue. English, heavily influenced by Latin (and German) translates easily into and out of Spanish.

  20. Roger Garrett

    I commented on Iggy’s words on the game thread and stick by them in that blaming his terrible performance on anybody else or anything else is just bush league stuff.It appears he is now lobbying to just pitch in save situations and based on his performance I could go along with that.Use him only that way and pray he returns to close to a 8 out of 10 success rate then trade him away.Don’t need or want anybody that puts himself first ahead of the team.Good grief if anybody has a beef it would be Votto.While he isn’t what he once was this guy is a Hall of Famer and he may not be happy hitting first or second he isn’t voicing it to the media.So tired of athletes and people in general that blame all of there problems on somebody else.

  21. Stock

    I am alone but I agree with Iglesias. Bell’s handling of the bullpen is very poor. He overmanages. He constantly uses Garrett as a LOOGY. Sorry but look at the stats.

    As for Iglesias, Iglesias is right.

    Closers have a mentality. You pitch them in a game where your team is up 7 – 0 or losing and they generally suck.

    Closers look to come into games in three situations:
    1. For a save in the 9th
    2. Tie game (or trailing) in the 9th at Home. No save is possible at this point.
    3. 9th inning and runners on and game tied or leading in a road game (home game should have started the 9th).

    Now lets look at the stats a little deeper.

    Doolittle is 2nd coming into 5 games that are tied. 4 times he has come into a game to start the ninth with the game tied at home. These were all anticipated. The 5th time was a road game where he came on in the 9th with 1 out and 2 on. Again not a surprise. So all five times he came in when expected.

    Now let look at Iglesias 6 ties he entered the game:

    2 times tie he comes in in the 9th inning of a tie game at home. Good usage.
    2 times he comes into a tie game in the 8th inning. Poor usage.
    1 time comes into a tie game in the 9th on the road. Poor usage
    1 time comes into a tie game in the 10th on the road. Poor usage.

    So Iglesias is right. This has to shake his confidence. This has to take him out of his game mentally. This obviously frustrates him.

    Bell is killing the bullpen. I think it is already showing up.

    Again I only compared the Reds to the Cards and the Brewers. But here are the stats.
    Total appearances by the top 8 RP:

    Cards: 112
    Brewers: 96
    Reds: 127

    Innings per use of the bullpen:
    Card: 1.014
    Brewers: 1.186
    Reds: 0.919

    Iglesias is right.

    • Jefferson Green

      From 2016-18 the Reds were dead last in pitching in all of baseball (near last each season, last for the years in aggregate). This year they are best in the league in ERA and WAR. While I have questions about some usage and handling of the staff, as well, the results agree much more with DB/DJ than Raisel. Overall, I hope the Reds are able to develop a couple of Josh Hader types (or close, anyway; he is pretty special) who stymie the opponents in high leverage situations anywhere in the second half of the game.

    • Matt WI

      Overextending the bullpen (for which you provide good numbers) as a whole is a different problem than when Raisel himself is used.

      “Saves” didn’t exist until 1969, so the idea that it is a fundamental part of the game that must be given specific strategy to isn’t necessarily so. Say it’s Lorenzen facing down the 3-4-5 hitters in the top of 8th, Reds take a three run lead in the bottom of the 8th and Raisel gets a “save” in a 9th inning against 6-7-8? IMO, Lorenzen provides the greater value in that scenario.

      If MLB or players wished it to be so, in the next collective bargaining agreement they could even radically alter the facts/stats that help how players get paid. If they all said tomorrow, “pitcher Wins and Saves” are too arbitrary and what matters is getting paid for how you perform… then what would Raisel say?

  22. Roger Garrett

    I understand Iggy is frustrated but to air it to the public isn’t cool.Its selfish,little league and just not professional.It really comes down to this.Is it better for the team to use him only in save situations and allow him to watch while the game is lost earlier or use him as Bell sees fit?Been there done that and that movie is old.This is a team that has lost and in a big way for a long time so I just don’t think he has or anybody else has earned the right to dictate how or when they are used.Closers value is over rated anyway.

  23. Matt WI

    What if a position player said “I am such a good hitter that it’s wrong to use me with bases loaded when we are losing or tied, I am much more valuable if we are up a run and I can add to that lead. Otherwise, PH for me.”

  24. WVRedlegs

    Lineups posted for tonight. Votto at 1B, Dietrich at DH, Farmer at 2B. The A’s have a RH pitcher going so Farmer over Vanmeter at 2B is a little bit of a surprise. The A’s have a lefty going tomorrow night so Bell could have had Vanmeter tonight and Farmer tomorrow. But Farmer has really earned some extra playing time.
    I don’t know if I would predict a pitchers duel, but it could be a low scoring game. The A’s have 6 players in the lineup that are hitting .243 or worse. The Reds have 7 players hitting .243 or worse in their lineup.