Feb 16, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Arredondo (33) poses for a photo during photo day at the Reds Spring Training Facility. (Photo: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

2013 Reds Season Preview: The 'Pen

I doubt anyone would question that one reason for the Reds success in winning the NL Central in 2012 was largely due to the pitching staff. The starting staff received its share of accolades and so did the bullpen. Well, things are pretty much the same from a personnel perspective as we gear up for the 2013 season.

There is a distinct possibility that the bullpen will be the exact same as it will be with the starters. Sure, there was the fanbase-dividing “event” of possibly working Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation, but The Cuban Missile (who’s now on Instagram: @TheCubanMissile54. Yes, it was confirmed yesterday.) was placed back into the closer’s role.

And we’ll start there. As I see it, in the Reds taking 12 total pitchers on the roster, that leaves 7 in the ‘pen. Four of those spots are definite while I see 5 guys (no, not what you’re thinking) going after the remaining three spots.

The “Four”

Feb 16, 2013; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chapman (54) poses for a photo during photo day at the Reds Spring Training Facility. (Photo: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Those that wanted Chapman to close got their wish last week when it was announced the Chappy would be placed “back” into the closer’s role. Some Reds fans cheered, while other jeered. Personally, not a fan on the choice, but we move on from this. Well, some of us have anyway…

In looking at what numbers Chapman can provide for the Reds this season, many projections looked at Chappy in one of three ways: strictly a closer, strictly a starter or a combination of the two. Now, that the dust has settled over his role, things may be focus a little more. As you will see, these projections are a little disturbing in that they show the Chapman will not perform as other-worldly as he did in 2012.

And if that occurs, you know how that will go over and what subject will re-emerge.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 63 0 66 32 94 5 42 2.70 1.151 12.8 4.4 2.94
2012 68 0 71.2 23 122 5 38 1.15 0.809 15.3 2.9 5.30

* – average projections taken from Davenport, ESPN and Bill James. 2012 stats taken from Baseball Reference.

Setup: Jonathan Broxton

2012 was a bit of a re-birth for Broxton. He fizzled out in 2010 and 2011 after being one of baseball’s most dominant closers in 2009. A free agent signing with the Royals and an injury to Joakim Soria revived his closer resume’. The Reds, while many of us were screaming for a top of the order bat, sent a pair of highly rated prospects (Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran) to the Royals for the services of Brox.

The return to the NL worked well and Broxton even provided closing duties during a time when Chapman was provided rest. In the four games he saved, opponents hit .083 against him. He’s there if needed.

Having Chapman as the closer brought about the question of the contract the Reds signed Broxton to during the off-season. The singing of Brox signaled to fans that he would be the closer for the next three years (not Chapman) as those contract terms were three years for $21MM. For 2013, that number is $4MM.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 63 0 63 22 60 4 9 3.37 1.300 8.6 3.2 2.68
2012 60 0 58 17 45 4 27 2.48 1.259 2.6 7.0 2.65

* – average projections taken from Davenport, ESPN and Bill James. 2012 stats taken from Baseball Reference.

Setup: Sean Marshall

Having Chapman as the closer brought about the question of the extension Marshall was signed to prior to last season (3 years, $16.5M). But for some odd reason, this doesn’t seem to be resonating as much with Reds fans in regards to Marshall as it does with Broxton. And Marshall is in line for a slightly bigger paycheck, too ($4.5MM).

No matter at this point, I suppose. Plus, it’s not my money…

One thing with Marshall he won’t walk a lot and he will get a generous number of opponents whiffing at that curve. Another thing is that lefty batters struggle against him (.173 BA in ’12) while righties can more easily find his pitches (.273 BAA in ’12). After having surrendered only one home run in 2011, Marshall permitted three last season, all to right-hand batters. That one in 2011, yep, a righty.

And as you can guess, Marshall’s SO/BB rate in 2012 was substantially higher when facing lefty bats (8.50) than right-handers (3.33).

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 72 0 66 19 70 4 10 2.90 1.142 9.6 2.6 3.75
2012 73 0 61 16 74 5 9 2.51 1.164 10.9 2.4 4.63

* – projections are simple average from Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS, Steamer, Davenport, ESPN and Oliver. 2012 stats from Baseball Reference.

Reliever: Sam LeCure

LeCure earned his keep in Dusty’s book last season. With the exception of closing, LeCure was used in every other relief situation imaginable last season. His flexibility provides Baker with the potential to use him either for 1+ inning or just one guy. And we know Baker has done both on many occasions throughout a season.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 48 1 62.7 27 60 4 0 3.74 1.271 8.7 4.0 2.39
2012 48 0 57.1 23 61 3 0 3.14 1.203 9.6 3.6 2.65

* – projections are simple average from Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS, Steamer, Davenport, ESPN and Oliver. 2012 stats from Baseball Reference.

The “Fight Among Five”

As I said, five going after three spots. No particular order here. Well, alphabetically.

Jose Arredondo

Arredondo is on a one-year deal (which does come into play here) for $1.2MM. While he can get a strikeout (9.1 SO/9 in ’12) or a groundout (45.4% last season), he does have a penchant for serving up a walk or two (5.0 BB/9 in ’12).

He has the stuff especially with his splitter. Depends on if opposing hitters are willing to swing at it. Arredondo even saved a game for the Good Guys last season. You remember that, don’t you? That was the game after which Dusty announced Chapman would be the closer for 2012.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 60 0 58.1 31 57 4 1 3.89 1.406 8.8 4.9 1.80
2012 66 0 61.0 34 62 6 1 2.95 1.377 9.1 5.0 1.82

* – projections are simple average from Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS, Steamer, Davenport, ESPN and Oliver. 2012 stats from Baseball Reference.

J.J. Hoover

Not sure what else this guy has to do to make the roster. If you want any argument for Hoover making the 25-man, check out Jordan’s post. That provides you all you need.

If Hoover doesn’t make the 25-man, someone is making a mistake as he has nothing left to prove at the Triple-A level.

Logan Ondrusek

And here’s where I reverse direction. Not sure why the Reds offered the “Big Ondrusek” a two-year deal other than to get a couple of arb-eligible seasons out of the way.

As Jordan did in his bid to get Hoover on the 25-man, Josh took the opposite as it applies to Ondrusek. His peripherals are not pretty. Sure, he usually starts a season well, but fades as the season progresses. I know that applies to more than Ondrusek, but last year, he owned a BB/9 over 5 (5.1 which isn’t that much more than Arredondo). Ondrusek doesn’t have the strikeouts Arredondo does (Big O’s was 6.4 last season).

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 55 0 53 26 39 3 0 4.39 1.462 6.7 4.4 1.51
2012 63 0 54.2 31 39 5 2 3.46 1.500 6.4 5.1 1.26

Manny Parra

Parra was signed on a one-year, $1MM deal. Some might say that’s a “bargain basement” price. His sole purpose was to be the LOOGY, a change from his days as a starter for the Brewers. Parra actually was pretty solid in that role last season (.229 BAA), but an initial glance of his numbers make your eyeballs bulge (2-3, 5.06 ERA, 1.653 WHP).

Talk about his stuff all you want. Give me some freakin’ results.

Started out well during the spring, but has stumbled as of late. If Dusty wants three lefties, Parra’s in for sure.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 48 3 56 30 53 3 0 4.52 1.537 8.6 4.8 1.81
2012 62 0 58.2 35 61 2 0 5.06 1.653 9.4 5.4 1.74

* – projections are simple average from Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS, Steamer, Davenport, ESPN and Oliver. 2012 stats from Baseball Reference.

Alfredo Simon

You could call Simon the unsung hero for 2012. Like LeCure, Simon does offer flexibility and he can close in an extreme pinch as he has done that before and had a save last season. The only issue for 2013 is that the Reds have a lot of arms and Simon missed time from the team when he was in the WBC.

I hear ya. You can’t honestly hold that against him, but that is time in which the brass was not able to look at him.

YR G GS IP BB SO W SV ERA WHIP SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2013* 35 2 66 25 53 4 1 4.21 1.394 7.4 3.4 2.17
2012 36 0 61 22 52 3 1 2.66 1.426 7.7 3.2 2.36

* – projections are simple average from Bill James, CAIRO, ZiPS, Steamer, Davenport, ESPN and Oliver. 2012 stats from Baseball Reference.

So…

Of these five, who ya got? For me, it’s not that hard. Arredondo, Hoover and Simon. Ondrusek has had a shady spring and Parra has faltered. So where’s that LOOGY you ask? Arredondo actually put up better splits against LHB (.165 BAA) than Parra. And that alone could confuse opposing managers. See Dusty being in Arredondo to face a lefty? Absurd looking, yes, but maybe a better option than any other guy out of the ‘pen.

But this is do know for certain. If the Reds are to conquer the NL Central and make a deep run at the World Series, this ‘pen needs to be at the same level it was last season, With all the faces the same (save maybe Parra if he gets the nod), this part of the 25-man is as strong as any in the bigs.

And we’ll talk about Nick Masset and the $3.1MM he’ll make this season at a later date.

You forgot about that?

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