Cincinnati Reds in Review: RP Jonathan Broxton

No longer is Jonathan Broxton a member of the Cincinnati Reds, but his tenure in the Queen City was one of the more peculiar ones in recent memory. There were injuries, a big contract, and even some dominant pitching mixed in, before Broxton was shipped off to the Milwaukee Brewers on August 31 this year.

Jonathan Broxton – Relief Pitcher

Many forget that it was not just Aroldis Chapman who would begin the season the disabled list, but Broxton as well, not making his debut until the team’s 10th game of the season. In the intermediate, Broxton played the role of closer until Chapman could recover.

Arguably, 2014 was Broxton’s best season to date. He had tremendous command of his cut-fastball, an uptick in velocity, and cut down on his walks, all signs that he would have a career-year.

His tenure in the Queen City was cut short due to finances. Owed $9 million in 2015, along with a $9 million mutual option for 2016 with a $2 million buyout, the Redlegs had to weigh just how high on their priority list a set-up man was. Of course, he was brought on to be the closer, before Chapman reneged on his decision to enter the rotation. From a business perspective, the move made sense considering Broxton was in the midst of a career season and his value would never be higher. On top of that, the Milwaukee Brewers were attempting not to choke away their 2014 season and were willing to pay a hefty price to acquire him.

Broxton pitched only 101.1 innings and appeared in 110 games in his Reds career over parts of three seasons, but it feels as if he has been apart of the ascension to the forefront of the division for longer. This is more than likely because Broxton has been so revered. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone within the organization who didn’t have kind things to say about him. Curiously enough, one of his best friends on the team was rookie outfielder Billy Hamilton. Outside of being southern boys, the two are almost diametrically opposite in nearly every physical category imaginable, but that is purely a testament to the kind of teammate and person Broxton truly is.

Broxton’s Stat Line:

4-2, 1.86 ERA, 48.1 IP, 7 SV, 194 ERA+ (career-high), 1.01 WHIP, .190 OAV, 3.53 FIP

Top Jonathan Broxton Moment:

It’s tougher than it seems to pick a moment for a guy who served as a set-up man/closer for the team. In this case, I’ll turn it over to the metrics, who say that Broxton’s best game all-season long came in an appearance where he didn’t even record a save.

On May 28, the Redlegs were out in Los Angeles getting acclimated to having a healthy bullpen, when Broxton was summoned with a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning with a man already in scoring position at second. Imaginably, his ranking soars for his ability to get both Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, two of the league’s top hitters to fly out to end the threat. Aroldis Chapman would then polish off the Dodgers in the ninth. That was truly when Broxton was at his best.

Low-Point of the Season for Jonathan Broxton:

Up until May 9, Broxton was—as the kids like to say—“money in the bank.” He was yet to allow a run in eight innings of action, racking up five saves and eight strikeouts, while allowing just three hits.

On that night, he would blow his first save of the year on an RBI double off the bat of eventual batting champion Justin Morneau. While he would still technically get the win after Joey Votto’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, it would be Broxton’s last night as the Reds go-to closer; Chapman returned the following day.

Final Grade: A-

Broxton was truly one of the bright spots of what was a trying season in Cincinnati. His stats may indicate that the defense behind him helped him out tremendously, but it does that for all Reds pitchers.

It’s a shame to see Broxton go, especially to division rival Milwaukee. Hopefully his kind natured generosity will allowing him to groove a fastball or two come 2015 when the Reds will really need his help.