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.

8 Responses

  1. sandman

    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.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      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.

      • sandman

        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. james garrett

    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.

  3. Jason Linden

    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.

  4. Scott Carter

    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.

  5. Ed Koverman

    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