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.