Bullpen Dynamics


With Arthur Rhodes gone with the wind to Texas, the Cincinnati bullpen maybe just as good but roles may be a little less defined.

In 2010, the Reds bullpen seemed to have pretty set roles, atleast at the back end. Francisco Cordero would come in to close after Rhodes and Masset had pitched the 7th or 8th. At the end of the season, Aroldis Chapman was used against lefties and when Rhodes needed a day off. Bill Bray, Jordan Smith, and Logan Ondrusek were also crucial middle relief guys.

In 2011, the same men who headed out to the pen last year will head out there again with the exception of Arthur Rhodes.

Let’s look at how they all did in 2010.

Francisco Cordero: 40 saves, 3.84 ERA (Weakness: walks)
Nick Masset: 3.40 ERA, 64 hits in 76 innings (Weakness: Slow start)
Aroldis Chapman: 2.03 ERA, 19 K in 13 innings (Weakness: Consistent command)
Logan Ondrusek: 3.68 ERA, 2.98 ERA after return from demotion in minors (Weakness: No major weakness)
Bill Bray: 4.13 ERA in 28 innings. Retired over 80% lefty batters faced (Weakness: Command)
Jordan Smith: 3.86 ERA (Weakness: When it rains, it pours on Jordan Smith)

Jose Arredondo, who last pitched for the Los Angeles Angels will return from Tommy John surgery this year. He was very effective in 2008 with the Angels, and he works well against lefties. Also, there is an outside shot that Dontrelle Willis may get a shot to be productive in the Reds bullpen. He would also project to do better against lefties than righties.

So in 2011 the bullpen should work a little like this:

Francisco Cordero will begin the season as the closer. Hopefully he will improve his command and maintain a tight hold on the job all season. If Cordero should falter, Nick Masset will get the chance to close. Many people will call for Chapman, but Dusty Baker would feel more comfortable with Masset.

The 8th inning will belong to Masset or Chapman. If more lefties are coming up than righties, Chapman. If more righties, Masset. Logan Ondrusek will start the year most likely as the 7th inning guy. Ondrusek can be dominant and had a scoreless streak of his own similar to the one Arthur Rhodes had at the beginning of the year. He can be dominant, and he showed vast improvement over the course of the season in 2011.

The back end of the pen will probably be filled out with Bray, Arredondo, Smith, and one or two long men. The starter who loses out on a spot in the rotation in Spring Training will find himself in the back in of the pen with Matt Maloney.

The bullpen should be a strength of the Reds in 2011 as it was in 2010. Though the Reds bullpen was middle of the road statistically sporting a 3.97 ERA, ranking 15th in the majors, they ranked 9th in opponents slugging percentage and 11th in on base percentage allowed.