October 3, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton (50) walks off the field after being taken out of the game during the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2: Bloated Bullpen ERAs, 2 Outs w/ RISP Woes

After the weekend sweep at the hands of the Pirates, the Reds find themselves two games under .500 and actively contributing more than they’d like to a growing Disabled List. Johnny Cueto becomes the latest luxury asset that the Reds will go without as he goes to the 15-day because of a strained lat.

Because it’s April 15th, there should hardly be a double-take when the standings illustrate a third place team behind the two teams that just took five of six games from the Reds. But in a season that encompasses seven months and 162 games, what is else there to do? Let’s talk about the current trends that have the Reds where they are.

  • The cumulative bullpen ERA is 4.82, which is good for 22nd in MLB. That number is sure to change over the season, but more alarming than the bullpen’s ERA are the five losses it’s surrendered this early in the season. No bullpen in baseball has surrendered more losses to this point. Hoover continues to struggle early in the season – he has three of the pen’s five losses. Broxton and Simon have lost the last two games. Perhaps the injury of lefty specialist Sean Marshall is starting to takes its toll, though most of the main contributors of the Pirates sudden late-game charge were righties.
  • At this point last year, the Reds had only amassed 33 runs. Now, at 65 runs scored, the Reds’ offense sits 5th in MLB, a promising feat this early, largely because of the unprecedented leadoff play of Shin Soo-Choo, who is hitting .354. The problem arises in clutch situations. The Reds are an MLB worst 6-52 (.115) with 2-outs/RISP, including 18 K. Jay Bruce has 14 of those 52 plate appearances – he’s recorded just one hit and seven strikeouts in that pivotal scenario. Batting fifth, it’s not hard to see why the Reds are struggling so much in this category.
  • Reds starting pitching hasn’t performed that well either. The cumulative ERA for the rotation is 4.40, 20th in baseball. Mike Leake’s 6.75, Homer Bailey’s 5.73 and Bronson Arroyo’s 5.25 ERAs are pretty indicative of why the Reds are where they are. Latos and Cueto are performing as expected – 3.26, 2.60 ERAs, respectively. But with Cueto going to the DL, the Reds are probably going to call Tony Cingrani to fill the void for the ace until he’s ready to return. He was pulled after two perfect innings in AAA yesterday and is reportedly en route to join the team.
All things considered, it’s really no surprise the Reds are where they are. But at this point in the season, making any alarming assertions or roster-altering moves (such as demoting a player, or firing a manager) would be a bit premature. All the aforementioned data is merely an indicator of why the team is where they are, on April 15th.
This isn’t our first five-game losing streak in Cincinnati, is it? Just last August your Reds dusted the Cubs 10-8 to snap a five-game losing streak only months before they were set to play in October.
Angst is to be expected, just don’t let it cloud your judgement. A ten-game home stand that includes four games with the Vice City Marlins may be just what the doctor ordered.

 

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