Earlier this week we looked at what went right with the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff in 2021. But today we’re going to take the opposing view and look at what went wrong for the Reds pitching staff this past season.
So what went wrong? A lot. And when did it start? Before the season even began. The Reds traded closer Raisel Iglesias and chose to non-tender Archie Bradley during the offseason. Iglesias posted a 2.57 ERA and picked up 34 saves with the Angels. Bradley signed with Philadelphia and posted a 3.71 ERA in 51.0 innings.
Two above-average relievers moved on from by the Reds. Here’s the list of the relievers that were brought in during the offseason to fill in the holes:
Sean Doolittle was easily the best pitcher on the list in terms of ERA. But he also allowed 12 of the 19 inherited runners when he was on the mound to score.
Of course it wasn’t just the new relievers that struggled. Amir Garrett posted a 6.04 ERA on the season, and it got to the point that by August he was rarely used and when he was it was in very specific spots. Ryan Hendrix posted a 5.97 ERA in his 31.2 innings. Michael Lorenzen posted a 5.59 ERA in his 29.0 innings after missing the first half with an injury. Even Lucas Sims struggled at times, and while his season was solid overall, given the expectations for him – things didn’t go well as he posted a 4.40 ERA.
To put it bluntly: The bullpen was an absolute disaster – particularly in the first half of the year.
None of the above mentions the biggest thing that went wrong in 2021 that effects the future: Tejay Antone underwent a second Tommy John surgery. While he was very good on the mound when he was out there, he unfortunately was injured several times during the season and ultimately tore his UCL in his pitching elbow and will miss the 2022 season and have to overcome the odds of a second UCL replacement that aren’t nearly as high as returning from a first Tommy John surgery.
Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray
Within the rotation, for the most part by the end of the season things looked like they had gone well. But much like with Lucas Sims having a solid season, it’s the expectations that get both Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray on the list here.
Luis Castillo was arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball over the first two months of the season. He was also dominant in the second half of the season. Still, Castillo posted a 3.98 ERA on the year. Many pitchers in baseball would take that and be happy about it. But with Castillo it was a down season that went worse than many would have expected.
For Sonny Gray you can say the same thing. In his first 231.1 innings with the Reds between 2019 and 2020 he posted a 3.07 ERA and allowed 21 home runs. But in 2021 he threw just 135.1 innings, posted a 4.19 ERA, and allowed 19 home runs. For plenty of pitchers that would have been a fine season. But for Sonny Gray that was a down season.