WednesdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 5-0 loss to the Cubs was the first game since Saturday that the Reds bullpen did not nearly incite a rash of heart palpitations amongst its faithful followers.
How the Reds address their flammable bullpen situation — CincinnatiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relievers entered Thursday ranked dead last among all MLB teams in FIP and WAR — will offer a glimpse into just how serious the club is committed winning in 2015. Entering this weekendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s three-game set in St. Louis, Aroldis Chapman (0.98 FIP) and J.J. Hoover (1.82 FIP) have been excellent. Burke Badenhop (3.73) and Tony Cingrani (4.18) have been about average. Manny Parra (6.48), Jumbo Diaz (9.21) and Kevin Gregg (12.80) have been tire fires.
Earlier this week, John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer floated the idea of promoting Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen from Triple-A Louisville and installing the duo into the Reds bullpen.
If the Reds choose to favor short-term success — winning in 2015 and 2015 alone — Iglesias will be in the bullpen soon and Lorenzen wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be that far behind. (This strategy assumes the Reds remain committed to Jason MarquisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ position in the starting rotation.) Inserting Iglesias and Lorenzen — both of whom possess minimal starting experience as professionals — in the bullpen would undoubtedly stunt their development as future members of the Reds rotation. But the young right-handers are on innings limits anyway, so acquiring a taste of the big leagues could help level out the potential physical ramifications of lost arm build-up — and who knows if that policy actually has merit.
If the Reds choose to favor long-term success — or making sure Iglesias and Lorenzen are as ready as they possibly can be to assume rotation spots in 2016 — itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unlikely both Iglesias and Lorenzen would find their way into the bullpen.
It would be refreshing to see the Reds promote Iglesias AND Lorenzen. With such a narrow margin of error in 2015, Cincinnati canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t afford to let two arms who would certainly improve their pitching staff linger in Louisville.
(Our own Doug Gray floated the idea of moving Marquis to the bullpen, bringing up Iglesias and Lorenzen, sticking one in the rotation and one in the bullpen, and then switching the two at some point in the season. I have no qualms with that plan either. It would be a good way to make sure Iglesias and Lorenzen are both in the majors while also building up their innings.Ã‚Â This plan would aid the bullpen, too. It makes a lot of sense, but I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see the Reds being forward-thinking enough to do it.)
The organizationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s policy of bringing arms along slowly has paid off in the past, but these are different times. This isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a pre-2010 Reds world, where there was really no point in doing anything but making sure the franchiseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top prospects were 100-percent ready, especially since the club wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t winning…at all. And this isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a 2011-14 world, where there were (typically) enough talented arms in the bullpen to go around, it was just a matter of shuffling the relievers around properly.
Though the 2015 Reds have played just nine games, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clear that the club has limitations. If the organization wants to make the playoffs this fall, the powers that be need to use up every resource possible in order to get there — and that includes promoting Iglesias and Lorenzen.