There Are Questions Surrounding Reds ‘Pen?


We’ve all been caught up in the talk about Aroldis Chapman and an innings limit and if he honestly should be moved to the starting rotation and if he should start the season in the bullpen, and so on. There’s not been that much chatter about the ‘pen, has there? Sure, some talk about the confidence in Johnathan Broxton versus that of Chappy, but little else.

Hard to fathom that the major’s best bullpen from 2012 could see the adjustments Reds fans will witness in 2013. A ‘pen that led the NL in all triple slash against categories (.219/.303/.336) and ERA (2.65) will see a slight reconfiguration. Different closer. No LOOGY. A return of the Masset Hound.

The last one will depend on a couple of things, but, I think you get the picture here.

On New Year’s Eve, Red Reporter’s RijoSaboCaseyWKRP had a take on the lefty arms still on the market. Our own Cliff Eastham had his opinion on if the Reds should have considered Mike Gonzalez, now reportedly a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The lefty reliever, or, in some cases, the LOOGY. (Part of the fun with LOOGY is to Google it. Honestly.) Now the question: Who will Dusty use as his LOOGY? Or another: Does Dusty have a LOOGY? I could go on for a while with the LOOGY bit…

Apr 25, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Marshall pitches during the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ballpark. The Reds defeated the Giants 4-2. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

Thing is, the Reds honestly do not have a legit LOOGY on the roster. Baker will dream of the days he had the likes of Arthur Rhodes and Bill Bray at his disposal. Of course, things were easier since he had Chapman down in the ‘pen in those days. Those days are now most likely gone. If you “promote” Chapman to the starting rotation (and signs do point in that direction), the only lefty arm in the Reds ‘pen is Sean Marshall, but that’s a good one to have. A very good one, in fact.

I hear your whispers. I hear your mumblings. You say Jose Arredondo and Logan Ondrusek, huh?

It is a fact that Jose Arredondo faced second most lefty batters during the 2012 season at 129. More than Ondrusek (103) and more than Marshall (102). Even more than Chapman (82). While Arredondo’s LHB BAA was a strong .157, look a little more into his numbers. His OBPA is .299. Only 3 of every 10 lefty batters reached base against Arredondo. Again, pretty strong. Here’s the slight rub. Arredondo allowed more walks to lefties (20) than hits (17).

Same holds true for Ondrusek. His BAA versus lefties isn’t as low as Arredondo’s, but it was still impressive at .188. Similar to Arredondo, he had a penchant for walking lefties. Ondrusek issued 17 walks to LHB while allowing only 16 hits. That would be a reason his OBPA to LHB was .333.

Speaking of returns (not meaning the gifts you received, but didn’t want at Christmas) Nick Masset should be starting to throw by now. And remember when Masset was practically automatic as a setup guy in 2010? Okay, 2011 was a bit rough on him, but in 2010, Masset’s BAA and OBPA were outstanding facing lefties with a .192 and .257 respectively.

Sam LeCure? Nice numbers, too. Sam’s BAA and OBPA were .202 and .300. The brighter spot for LeCure in comparison to Arredondo and Ondrusek is that LeCure whiffed 29 lefties and only walked 12. In fact, LeCure faced more lefty bats (112) than Ondrusek.

Dusty has options, but maybe not in the traditional sense of how we normally view pitching to lefty bats. You know, the specialist of a LOOGY.

A bid of a side note. Can anyone guess which Reds reliever faced the highest number of LHB in 2012? Alfredo Simon with 135. His BAA and OBPA weren’t as formidable as those that have been previously mentioned (.261/.348). Those against numbers are less impressive against righties.

Aug 8, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Broxton during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

And what of Brox? He had a few hiccups after coming over from Kansas City. Rumblings of not putting him in a game when it’s a highly leveraged situation was the most prevalent gripe. Have we forgotten what the big guy did in Chapman’s absence?

I think we have. In the five games (yes, very small sample), no runs allowed, earned or unearned. Opponents slash against: .067/.125/.067. No blown saves with an aLI (average leverage, over 1.00 is considered high leverage) of 2.13. No, I doubt any sane individual would believe that things at the back end of games for 2013 will be as easy as they were in 2012.

And for what it’s worth…the Reds front office may have felt a slightest bit of pressure to bring Broxton back considering there were more than a few displeased fans in what the Reds surrendered to KC in that trade. Fans having an influence? Nah…

Add this. Broxton won’t turn 29 until mid-June of the upcoming season.

There are two parts of a roster that will usually undergo a large change every off-season: the bench and the ‘pen. Since the days of the 2010 NL champs, the Reds have only Masset, Ondrusek and LeCure still in the ‘pen fold. Yes, there’s Chapman. Maybe he will account for a .5 on this.

And some more questions here. Is anyone 100% sold that Ondrusek makes the Opening Day roster? Could ask the same question about Simon. If both do and Masset begins the season on a rehab assignment in Louisville, what happens once Masset is ready? Where’s J.J. Hoover begin his 2013 season?

Despite the success shown in 2012, the Reds bullpen makeup does produce many questions. And we won’t have any solid answers for weeks.

Oh, and how may questions did I ask here?

I have a headache…