Key to 2015 Cincinnati Reds: Bullpen


When anyone mentions the Reds bullpen, the name Aroldis Chapman immediately comes to mind. He is arguably baseball’s most feared closer. He spun himself another fantastic season even after missing the first month due to the freak accident which occurred during a spring training game.

And now for the rest of the story on the 2014 Reds bullpen. Looking at a couple of numbers and comparing them to the National League averages, you might think matters weren’t all that bad last seasons.

SV%: CIN – 70%; NL – 69%
IS%: CIN – 23%; NL – 28%

Not too shabby. Both of these are better than average.

But another stat that is a bit telling is that of the starting pitchers and tough losses.  A tough loss is a loss when your starters suffers a loss even though he hurls a quality start. Yes, there is debate on the parameters which surround a quality start, but take that as is here. Last season, Reds pitchers suffered 17 tough losses. This was also better than league average (19).

Of course, I could add here that you have to score…

But the Reds bullpen for the 2013 season was one of the best in baseball. When you look at some other numbers, you begin to see why the bullpen faltered much more last season than it did in 2013.

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Down seasons from Manny Parra, Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover certainly contributed to these numbers appearing insanely askew. Sean Marshall, who was to also be a significant contributor, basically missed the entire season. That led to something I saw and my jaw seriously almost hit the floor.

First, for those that are into digging into numbers and/or if you haven’t already heard of this particular stat, let me ever so briefly introduce you to aLI, or average leverage index. According to Baseball Reference, aLI is “the average pressure the pitcher saw”. in this case, it is for the 2014 season. Now prepare yourself.

Reds top 3 in aLI for 2014:

1. Aroldis Chapman – 1.762
2. Jonathan Broxton – 1.633
3. Jumbo Diaz – 1.309

What? Diaz started last season in Louisville. His first appearance wasn’t until June 20th. And he was given the ball in the third highest averaged leveraged (pressure packed) situations? Seriously? Not that we can solely point at Diaz and say he was part of the reason the bullpen floundered. In fact, I’ve already suggested that one reason the Reds pen didn’t perform well last season was moving Alfredo Simon to the starting rotation.

A few days ago, Ashley provided her take on what the bullpen could look like in 2015. Jesse added that maybe Bryan Price needs to unleash Aroldis Chapman. You could easily assert that if Parra, LeCure and Hoover have bounceback 2015 seasons, and throw a healthy Marshall into the mix, the bullpen should dramatically improve. And yes, we assume that Chapman will be Chapman.

For 2015 Cincinnati Reds to compete in the now more competitive NL Central, the bullpen must return to its 2013 form. And expect no less than the same we have witnessed from the Cuban Missile.