Following the 2020 season the Cincinnati Reds traded away Raisel Iglesias and they non-tendered Archie Bradley. The team was still returning Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, and Michael Lorenzen – but the latter two were also in contention for a spot in the rotation. Cincinnati had spots to fill.
Fast forward a few months and Michael Lorenzen is injured and won’t be eligible to return for another six weeks. The bullpen has been filled with Sal Romano, Carson Fulmer, Cam Bedrosian, Sean Doolittle, Cionel Pérez, and while he hasn’t pitched in relief yet – José De León.
The results early on, despite a 7-5 start, have been quite mixed. Tejay Antone, who may have been heading to the rotation if an injury didn’t set him back and leave him ready to pitch in shorter outings to start the year but not ready to throw 90 pitches, has been outstanding thus far while throwing 6.2 shutout innings over three appearances. Carson Fulmer has a 1.17 ERA through 7.2 innings pitched and has allowed just one inherited runner to score. Sal Romano’s ERA sits at 4.22, though it should be 3.38 given that there’s no way a dropped pop up should not be an error – but as things stand right now, no error was called and it led to a run that shouldn’t have been. And then there’s Lucas Sims who has pitched in five games and allowed baserunners in just one of them – giving up two runs in his 4.1 innings.
But beyond those four guys that’s where things get a bit questionable over the first two weeks. Cam Bedrosian has more walks than innings pitched and a WHIP of 2.79. There’s no slicing up his performance – it’s been bad thus far. Cionel Pérez has an ERA of 8.31 with more walks than innings pitched. Much like Bedrosian, there’s not much you can point to and say he hasn’t struggled to this point in the season.
Amir Garrett has pitched in just three games, and he last pitched a literal week ago. But he’s allowed runs in two of his three games – both wins for the Reds – but his ERA sits at 15.00 and he has more walks than innings pitched. And then there’s Sean Doolittle. He’s pitched in six games and allowed two earned runs in 4.2 innings while striking out eight batters. That’s not bad. But he’s also allowed three of four inherited runners to score. Those weren’t charged to his ERA, but it’s not ideal. Much like Garrett, though, the Reds won both games in which he allowed inherited runners to score.
The Reds offense has been out to a strong start. No team is remotely close to them in runs scored per game in Major League Baseball. But they aren’t going to average 6.25 runs per game for the season, either. That means they’re going to have less wiggle room to work with when it comes to iffy to poor performances from the pitchers.
A guy who has proven it like Amir Garrett has is not likely much of a concern. But there are plenty of questions to be had about some of the other guys who are struggling at this point. It’s still early and there’s time to let things shake out, adjust, alter, and simply just execute better. But something along those lines does need to take place. Currently the Reds team ERA among relievers is 4.70 – the 8th worst in the league. That has to improve if the team is going to continue to compete within the division.