The Cincinnati Reds bullpen has been about as bad as one could expect. On the season the bullpen has an ERA of 5.53. Tejay Antone has been the only reliable guy out of the bullpen from the start of the year, with everyone else either being downright bad or inconsistent. Last week when the Reds placed Antone on the injured list there was, understandably, a large sigh coming from Cincinnati that rivaled the sound of Krakatoa erupting in 1883.

In a shocking turn of events the bullpen has been outstanding without Tejay Antone. The Reds have played in six games since the team placed Antone on the injured list. Cincinnati has won all six of those games and some of the credit can go to the bullpen (and plenty to the offense, too). The bullpen has given up just two runs in 18.1 innings since June 11th. That’s a 0.98 ERA.

When the season began the team probably felt comfortable about the trio of Tejay Antone, Lucas Sims, and Amir Garrett. All three had dealt with an injury during the spring, but were active on opening day. Antone has been great, Sims has been inconsistent, while Garrett has generally performed poorly during the season. But the latter two have pitched better of late.

Lucas Sims gave up three runs in 0.1 innings against the Brewers on May 21st. He’s pitched in 10 games since then and the results have been fantastic. He allowed a run on June 10th. That’s the only game in which he’s allowed a run in that stretch, throwing 11.0 innings along the way. After striking out four batters on Wednesday it puts him at 17 strikeouts in that span against just three walks.

One pitcher that wasn’t on the radar when the season began was Brad Brach. He began the year with the Kansas City Royals at their alternate site, but was designated for assignment in late April and opted for free agency. A few days later he signed a minor league deal with the Reds and three weeks after dominating in Triple-A with Louisville he was called up to Cincinnati. Since making his debut with the Reds on May 21st he’s thrown 10.2 innings and allowed just four earned runs (3.38 ERA) to go along with 15 strikeouts.

Cincinnati has been playing incredibly well over the last three weeks. They are currently the hottest team in baseball – dare we say RED HOT – and are 13-3 over their last 16 games played. Tejay Antone will hopefully be back at some point during the series in San Diego. If he can come back and join a bullpen that’s figured it out – at least for the most part – then the Reds are going to be a very dangerous team.

36 Responses

  1. Melvin

    No doubt about it. The bullpen has exceeded everyone’s expectations recently.

  2. LDS

    It has been an interesting turn of events since TA went DL. Any insights on why Bell is letting starters go a bit longer and using the bullpen more strategically than previously, e.g., seems to be less of the automatic L/R thing.

    • RojoB

      I don’t know why he’s doing it finally, but hopefully he’s learning, and since the outcomes are nice, it tells him something.

    • Hunt4RedsOct

      I think that, with last year’s shortened season, they wanted to have the starters build up to the higher pitch counts. Used April and May to do that. There’s been so many injuries around the league.

  3. Alan Horn

    The bullpen has stepped up. I am able to watch the games everyday for the first time( has just been offered for the first time in my city). I can observe some obvious faults in at least a couple of player’s swings. India and Suarez. Their upper body is rotating on an outside pitch. Not every time, but often. The upper body can’t rotate that much on an outside pitch. You have to let up on your swing and take it the other way. India and Suarez often pull balls on the outer part of the plate and beyond. It usually results in a weak ground or fly out. On another note we have an abundance of good starting pitching(you can never have enough pitching) with Greene and Lodolo not far away. I would look at turning some of the starters into relievers. That would be cheaper than trades or signing FAs in the off season. I would still leave the door open to trades if the proper ones presented themselves.

  4. CFD3000

    This feels like a huge IF, but if the Reds find themselves with 5 solid relievers – Antone, Sims, Garrett, Brach and Hoffman – and if Castillo continues his return to form and Gray comes back fully healthy (sending Santillan back to AAA as starter insurance) then the pitching staff looks really good for the last 90 games of the year. Even that possibility felt really unlikely as recently as late May. Castillo and Sims in particular have found something, and Gutierrez and Brach have been unexpected gems. When the Reds are winning 10-3 and 2-1? That’s an exciting team. I’m cautiously optimistic and enjoying this stretch of inspired play. Go Reds!

    • CFD3000

      On a related note, I still feel strongly that Antone will provide more value in the rotation than in the bullpen, but it seems clear he’s a reliever for 2021 (along with Lorenzen). But I do hope he’s not permanently relegated to that role.

      • Reaganspad

        I think Lorenzen and Hoffman are huge for this pen.

        I think it is interesting that AG hasn’t progressed as much as others on the staff like Sims. But keep running him out there.

        I kind of like Dolittle and hope he continues to refine. If the pen is healthy and keeps performing, it keeps the management from doing something stupid with Greene or Lodolo. That would be nice if they were September call ups to just be there for the ride, pitch in one of those 10-2 games

  5. Indy Red Man

    I still think they need a good lefty from somewhere? Or even a righty with good lefty splits like Sam LeCure back in the day. AG is hot & cold and Doolittle is near the end of the line.

    Having Antone back is the key though. Hader is the only reliever I’d take over him in the NL and TA has the ability to stretch out longer.

    • RojoB

      I hope that psychologically, when Tejay returns, that the other relievers do not have a let down but instead build on what they’ve accomplished. It has got to have increased their confidence!

    • Redsfan4life

      If they do add anyone at the deadline. I think we know it will not be a huge contract. So that being the case. A good LH reliever to me should be number one on the list.

      • Alan Horn

        I agree. In fact, they could be getting rid of 2 large contracts. Moose for one. IF is crowded and he hasn’t produced or been healthy this season. I would hate to lose Castellanos but if he doesn’t want to agree to a new contract with a reasonable raise, we have to trade him. The return would be much greater than the draft choice. If we are in the thick of the race it makes it harder. It also depends on what Aquino is doing.

  6. Klugo

    Boy, have they ever! If they keep pitching like this, they can ease Lorenzen into some low leverage spots to start.

    Is it just me or has the Reds bullpen been setting the wrong kinda records for about five years now. It seems like they have been trying to best (or worst) each other for a minute now.

  7. SultanofSwaff

    Boy, the bullpen was atrocious early in the season. So much so that despite the last couple weeks, the Reds bullpen is still dead last in reliever ERA. Fortunately things are looking up. Hembree and Brach and a resurgent Garrett give the ‘pen some late inning options Bell was sorely lacking. Now we need the depth and I think that will come from some combination of Santillan/Hoffman/Gutierrez when Sonny returns. Assuming the team stays in contention, after the all-star break it would be an organizational failure to not bring up Greene and Lodolo in lieu of using prospect capital to acquire a rental reliever or two (although I’m open to trading anyone outside our top 8 prospects). I think it would be both a developmental and win now success.

    Interesting that among the top 10 teams in bullpen innings pitched it’s evenly divided between really good and really bad teams.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Credit the front office for not standing pat with the bullpen and sorting in a hurry. In just two months they’ve moved on from Bedrosian, Fullmer, and Romano and to a lesser extent Perez, Feliz, and DeLeon.

      • RojoB

        this is a good reminder. They did indeed unload the worst fairly early. If Garrett not had a reasonably successful past, he may have been sent packing with them

      • Indy Red Man

        I would also like to discredit the front office for rostering all those scrubs in the first place? It took me 2 hitters to see that Art Warren (2.96 career era in the minors) is far more talented then somebody like Sal Romano (4.31 era in the minors).

      • Optimist

        Bedrosian and Romano, agreed. But I put Fulmer in a group with Hoffman and Nick Howard – former top prospects who are close and have something that the Boddy/Johnson staff can work with. Bedrosian is past his prime, and Sal never quite got there. Worth the price and effort in AAA to see if they can work it out.

  8. Redsfan4life

    Indy Red Man
    They always seem to break camp every spring with at least a couple pitchers who have no business being on a big league club. I don’t get why they use spring stats as a reason to keep these guys.
    To there credit though they cut ties earlier this season with them then normal. But how many wins did using these guys cost them in the standings?

    • VaRedsFan

      Those guys with the good spring stats usually compile them against AA/AAA players from other teams

  9. RedBaron

    It’s almost as if this bullpen woke up and realized that it’s up to them to step their game up or the Reds would go on a long losing streak now that Antone isn’t there to save us.

  10. VaRedsFan

    I’m surprised as any of the great bullpen for the last week.
    Let’s not forget, they were facing the road Rockies and the light hitting Brewers.
    With that being said, success breeds confidence. Keep it up boys!

  11. JB

    Everybody needs to know what their role is on every team. Relief pitchers have to know are they the 9th inning guy? 8th inning? 7th inning or long relief….I dont think they knew what they were and relief pitchers need to know what their role is so they can adjust and get ready well before they are needed. Now that Antone is gone , Bell is starting to define to these guys what their role is. Sometimes it takes awhile for relief pitchers to get rolling in a new season. Let’s not forget too , that there is alot of new faces out there in the pen and they are getting use to not only the ballpark but each other. I will say this though, in all my years of watching the Reds , I cant remember ever having the abundance of starting pitchers on the roster or knocking on the door to get on the roster. They are loaded.

    • Grand Salami

      Dusty would be proud.

      Amir knew his role but couldn’t handle it. Antone’s role was fluid and it didn’t affect his performance at all.

      If you have John Franco then the role is claimed. Assigning them is too stilted an approach in today’s game.

  12. JB

    And you replace the guy (Amir) with somebody else while he figures it out. With all the new faces they didnt know what their roles were. I have to laugh because Cowboy said the same thing a few weeks ago and I agree with him.

    • RojoB

      On the other hand, when any pitcher takes the mound, isn’t his role to get hitters out?

      • JB

        That is true, so you dont have a problem with Doolittle coming in the ninth when Reds are up by one to close out the game?

    • MBS

      I agree, jack of all trades and master of none. It might be good to have a couple of guys like that, but I want some masters to.

  13. Tim

    I would like to see us bring up 1 or 2 of our pitching prospects to join Antone in high leverage long relief situations. We want our starters going strong in September through the playoffs. Let them get a bye on a start or have a reduced pitch count while utilizing these talented young guys. Bringing them in for the 4th and 5th ab and then utilizing our pen as situational set up guys and closers keeps everyone sharp and rested.

  14. docproc

    My eye test suggests that Hembree and Hendrix have good stuff if they can harness it, and that Brach throws off hitters with his herky-jerky delivery.
    My eye test doesn’t have a kind appraisal of Doolittle, Goudreau, or any of the misfit toys we’ve sent back and forth to Louisville (Warren, Perez, DeLeon, Fulmer, etc.).
    AG is a head case with talent.
    Sims is filthy but often an adventure.
    Antone, when healthy, is the truth.

    • Indy Red Man

      Warren gets it up there at 97 mph. I think he’s better then Hendrix and 5x better then doonothing. We’ll have to see what happens, but I think he might work himself into more meaningful situations.

  15. kevinz

    Sure have hope keep chip , they have been pitching with.
    Key to me is, this trip out west.
    played so well early in the season.
    Then played teams from the West.
    That is when the slide started.
    So hope can keep up the good Play.

    • BatsLeftThrowsRight

      They will be done with the West on the road after this four game series in SanDiego. Then just six home games (padres,dodgers) remain verse the West for the remaining year. That’s good news, the bad news is they were 1-5 against a terrible Diamondback’s team this year.

      They need to continue the urgency and accept no less than a split of these next six road games, 4-2 would be great.