Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell is going to have a rather different pitching staff in 2021 than he had in 2020. Free agency has cost his rotation both the Cy Young Award winning Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani. In the bullpen he’s watched the team trade closer Raisel Iglesias and Robert Stephenson, and non-tender Archie Bradley. Despite these losses, though, Bell sounds confident in the players that are returning, as well as the acquisitions of reliever Noé Ramirez and Jeff Hoffman.

“I choose to look at the guys we do have. And really we have the core of our team that really had a great experience last season – guys coming together, the team coming together. A lot of success that we can build on,” said Bell.

“Obviously we lost Raisel. The last couple of years he’s been our closer. As far as the roles, getting that specific with who our bullpen is – we haven’t gotten there yet. Obviously, Raisel served in that closer’s role,” Bell said. “He’s a good pitcher, we’ll miss having him as a part of our team. We were able to get a reliever back from the Angels in Ramirez. We lost Robert Stephenson and we were able to get Hoffman, who could serve as a starter, could end up in the bullpen. We had guys step up last year – Tejay Antone kind of came out of nowhere and was a big part of our success. Amir (Garrett) has had two really good years in a row. Lucas Sims – big year for him. Guys like Sal Romano, who has worked so hard to get an opportunity, maybe he gets that chance this year. Guys like that who can step up. But we really believe in the formula that we have in place to have a successful bullpen and even though the personnel may be a little bit different, we’re very confident moving forward.”

The bullpen is a little bit of an unknown right now. With possible openings in the rotation, guys who have been relievers like Tejay Antone, Jeff Hoffman, and Michael Lorenzen are options for starters as we sit right now. It seems that Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, and Noé Ramirez are locks for the bullpen in 2021. Beyond that, though, there are plenty of questions about who will join them.

“As far as the rotation, obviously Trevor (Bauer) being a free agent – that has to play out. We still see our rotation as a strength of our team. We had Michael Lorenzen show what he could do as a starter at the end of the year. We know he can do that, we know he can be a reliever, he can do whatever he puts his mind to. If it turns out it’s best for the team that he’s a starter, he may be able to step in and be one of our starters. All in all, other than Trevor, we’re still in a good place with our rotation,” said Bell.

The rotation, like the bullpen, has some quality to it, but also has some questions about who all will be there. As things stand today it feels safe to assume that Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, and Tyler Mahle will make up the 1-4 of the rotation in some order, with the final spot yet to be determined. The rumors have been out there for a bit that Sonny Gray is on the trade market in the right deal, but so far he’s remained with the organization. There are obvious internal options to look at, including the previously mentioned ones of Lorenzen, Antone, and Hoffman, as well as top 10 prospects Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, and Tony Santillan.

One can understand having some confidence in the pitching staff as a whole. There are some quality pitchers among the group, even if the exact roles of some of them are still unknown. Not having Trevor Bauer back is going to likely take the rotation back a step or two, but there’s still a good core of pitchers there and the back of the bullpen at the very least should be one where there is some confidence. Figuring out the 5th starter and filling out some of that middle relief is where Cincinnati’s front office and coaching staff will have to work their way through between now and April. The core group is there. Rounding that group out is the work that needs to be done in the next few months.

28 Responses

  1. Matthew ONeal

    I’d like to see Sal Romano get a chance to stick around in the bullpen. I was shocked when no one claimed him off waivers when he was DFA before ST 2020 (about 300 years ago). But in 2018 as a reliever he posted a 3.77 ERA and in 2019 he posted a 3.44 (if you take out the 1 game where he completely blew up 8 runs in 2/3 IP). Obviously upgrade if you can, but he wouldn’t be the worst option. He’s also still pre-arb, so the Reds will surely like that for payroll.

    • Rednat

      yes, i agree. i believe Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle could be the # 3 and 4 starters for a long time for the reds. both seem pretty durable and have the potential to eat a lot of innings at a very low cost

      • JayTheRed

        Romano is a scrap heap player… Yes he had two decent relief seasons but if he is one of our starting pitchers we are in a lot of trouble.
        When I read that statement about Romano being a starter I felt like I just fell 5 years back in time… Please no.

      • Matthew ONeal

        Oh big no on Romano starting, which was kinda noted in my post. He’s a cheap, controllable bullpen arm.

  2. LDS

    Krall and Bell? I haven’t been this inspired since Bob Howsam and Sparky Anderson in the 70s. Bell touting last season as a success is laughable. And it looks like this year will be no better. How about those Dodgers?

  3. Mark Moore

    I’m fine with “closer by committee”. Frankly, with the exception of the BIG$$ teams, that’s the way I think it should be approached. And if you get a “star closer” sell at the highest value to one of those clubs with more money than brains.

    Neither optimistic nor pessimistic at this point. Just encouraged that with vaccine advances we may actually play ball in 2021. 2022 is still a matter for discussion …

  4. Bred

    The starting 8 is a middling lot at best. Is last season’s production what they will produce in 2021, will they regress further, or will several have career seasons? Who knows. I doubt the FO believes in this group. I don’t. They seem to be 2 outcome hitters. I guess that’s the game now because of the shift for lefties turns what used to be singles into outs, and going the other way must be too difficult, or maybe it is some unwritten baseball rule I know nothing about.
    However, the young and under contract pitching looks promising. Green, Lodolo , TJ, Malle, Gray, Sims, Lorenzen (FA in 2022) and AG.
    If they trade Gray and some position players now for some young talent, the Reds could be a younger better team in 2022. If they don’t make the move with trades now, the Reds will have some good pitching, but a cellar dwelling team.

  5. Melvin

    Wish we could be confident in David Bell. 🙂

  6. Klugo

    Yeah, we don’t know anything. We’re just fans. They’ll show us.

  7. James K

    Has any manager ever said he does not have confidence in his team?

  8. Chris Holbert

    David Bell being confident, is not reassuring.

    • Hotto4Votto

      My thoughts exactly. This is from the same guy who said “our offense came through and got us to the postseason”. What season was he watching? A historically inept offense that was shut out for the entirety of their playoff series. What a joke. Trevor Bauer (with help from the rest of the rotation) got us to the postseason. It wasn’t the manager, it wasn’t the offense, that much is certain.

  9. TR

    I feel David Bell is a front office type and I’m hopeful his current contract will not be renewed.

  10. RedsGettingBetter

    The pitching staff is still good even with the loss of Bauer, Bradley, Iglesias and Disco. That’s means it was very pretty good last season. However, the poor offense performed did not take the chance of an excellent pitching (for example remember the wild card serie vs Atlanta) so I think the worrying thing is do not adding at least one good hitter to the lineup … maybe Bell would say that he also has confidence in his offense…

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Bullpens are most always crapshoots anyhow. You could spend a lot, you could spend a little, you never really know what you have until well into the season.

    For the starters, “if” we are going to compete next season, I don’t see how we lose both Gray and Bauer, unless we bring someone in comparable. If we lose both of them, our starters definitely take a hit.

    It’s not that I don’t disagree with trading Gray, also. But, I would think, if they trade Gray, I would hope they would go all in for rebuilding and just start trading away everyone, build the minors up, put the resources into the minor leaguer development, etc. For, if they trade Gray, I really don’t see how the Reds compete, again, unless they bring in someone comparable.

    I have no problem with a rebuild. But, if you do, go all out. Not just a piece or two.

    • Andy

      No No No on the go all-in for a rebuild… we’ve done that, didn’t work. Need to strive toward Cardinals model.. always competitive, occasionally great.

      People like to bash the free agent signings from last year… I think they worked out pretty well! Moose and Castellanos still have plenty left in the tank, and neither are signed to debilitatingly long contracts. A model that relies on using only players on pre-ARB prices leads to poor play. Those two contracts are tied for the 66th largest total contract value… and by the way the huge Votto deal is not in top 10 either. You have to pay up if you want quality veterans. 4 year deals are EXACTLY what Reds should be shooting for… long enough to get quality players, short enough to maintain some future flexibility.

      I think those guys, along with Suarez and Gray and decent organizational pitching depth will keep Reds at the competitive level.

      • Bred

        The reason it failed is because they held on to valuable pieces too long. Ya got to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. I believe now is the time to fold, and get cost controllable pieces. If the players the Reds have now, in today’s market, don’t bring top prospects, then they have to stand pat. Sadly, IMO in after a year maybe 2 this team will not be competitive. Although they will have good pitching, they will be cellar dwellers.

      • Hotto4Votto

        We did not go all in on the rebuild. The Reds are the kings of pacifying half-measures and false rhetoric.

      • Don

        See Tampa Bay Rays as an example of making best use of how to build and maintain a competitive team being a low revenue team.

  12. Bill J

    I’m not sure if anyone besides pitching & maybe Winker is tradeable for much right now, maybe if someone gets hot the 1st half maybe. I know hindsight is 20/20 but last winter would have been the time. I would have liked to have seen Suarez & Iggy to Atlanta for Pache or Waters & Anderson or Muller.

  13. DataDumpster

    The Fanbase is NOT confident in David Bell and the Reds managers BECAUSE of losses.

    • Josh

      David. Bell — Career .477 Win Pct. = Loser
      We are supposed to believe him?

  14. Don

    The assumption I see being made by the comments is that the statement “……..we’re very confident moving forward” is based on an assumption for a winning and playoff team to fans.

    Evaluating the open-ended statement that “……..we’re very confident moving forward” without knowing the internally defined goal of the organization this statement can be interpreted incorrectly by those that do not know the actual goal.

    If the goal set by the ownership for the FO and on field manager for 2021 is to “make up for the ownership perceived losses of 2020” and win 60-70 games.

    Bell could be confident that goal will be met.

    • DataDumpster

      Very good point. The fact that Krall and now David Bell seem (even more) vacuous in their comments may point to a much lower goal than what most people would expect. I still stay optimistic because of the exceptionally weak division and the hope that this is a make or break moment for Bell.

      • Don

        I have close to zero confidence in David Bell as a manager and the hitting approach of this team for the last 2 seasons.

        Having players whom got to the big leagues by being one type of hitter and then asking them to totally change their approach while in MLB and expect success is a recipe for disaster.

        One example:
        Winker got to the major being a 15 HR, 310 avg, 400 OBP player, He is now trying to be a 30 to 40 HR hitter, 250 avg with a 350 OBP.