For this week’s question we asked some of the writers from Redleg Nation about how the Reds’ bullpen.
Question: The Reds’ bullpen has been a bit of a mess at times this year. Which reliever do you have the most faith in?
Steve Mancuso: The Reds bullpen has been excellent. To say that it has been “a mess at times” is to say that it is a group of players comprised of relief pitchers. Relievers are inherently inconsistent. The Reds bullpen is still 5th best in the major leagues, 2nd in the NL and best in the NL Central based on xFIP. xFIP is a much more reliable stat than say ERA, especially for the small sample size concerning relievers. The Reds have fewer blown saves than 21 other teams. Every team’s bullpen is being used more now and they all have meltdowns. The Reds bullpen has pitched fewer innings than 23 other teams. I have about the same faith in Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett. On a scale of 1-to-10 with 1 being Zach Duke and 10 being Mariano Rivera, I’d put the three of them at 7.5 or 8.
Mary Beth Ellis: I’m sure David Bell had some sort of proper lefty-righty matchup numerology he was following when he yanked Amir Garret in favor of Iglesias on Friday night. I don’t doubt it at all. But as soon as I saw who was on the mound and who wasn’t, I uttered a pre-emptive “Welp,” and immediately started whining on Twitter. “I want my teammates to know they can count on me, whether in a game or to get them a beer or whatever,” he said before Players’ Weekend, pointing at “Count on AG” on the back of his (stupidly plain white) jersey. And… I do.
Jeff Carr: Hands down Amir Garrett. When Garrett takes his jump shot after emerging from the bullpen, I know the other team is getting shut down. The first thing I look at with a reliever is how does he fares coming into games with runners on. In the last two seasons Garrett has inherited 80 runners and has allowed just 20 of them to score. He also averages just 15 pitches per appearance. Now, sure, some of that stems from an occasional usage as a specialist, but we’ve seen that even specialists can rack up the pitch count (looking at you, Zach Duke).
This season everyone is hitting .190 against Garrett. He’s not getting lucky, either, as the BABIP against him is .271. Something that is unquantifiable and every bit as important is Amir, himself. He’s a leader for this team. There’s not a ton of guys in MLB that you can say lead a team from the bullpen. Heck, most relievers are content to be quirky, pitch an inning a night, and be done with it. When Bronson Arroyo described this team to me, he said “Geno, Winker, and Amir are the leaders in the clubhouse,” and you don’t have to look to hard to see where he’s coming from.
Doug Gray: Overall I think that the bullpen as currently constructed is a quality one. As Steve notes, relievers can be inconsistent – for whatever reason that is, it generally holds true. With that said, I think that I have slightly more faith in Michael Lorenzen than the rest of the bullpen. That’s not to say I worry too much about the other guys, just that there’s a little more faith in Lorenzen. This year he’s missing bats at a career high rate, his walk rate is solid, he’s not giving up a lot of runs, and he’s generally keeping guys off base.