Predicting the Cincinnati Reds Bullpen

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Back in January, I took a look at the bullpen situation for the Cincinnati Reds in 2015. Because of the Reds’ deal with Burke Badenhop and a couple of non-roster invites, some of the players I thought were locks to make the team back in January may not be locks now, a little over a week from Opening Day.

We know Raisel Iglesias will begin the season as a starter until Homer Bailey is ready. After that, he will most likely go to Louisville in order to pitch on a regular basis. This is probably the best option for him, especially if the Reds still plan to make him a regular starter in the long term.

Right now, Aroldis Chapman looks to be the only lead-pipe lock in the bullpen. Everybody knows he’s the closer. But after Chapman, it gets murky. Right now the Reds have no designated setup guy. They also have a couple guys who were on the team last year and have not pitched well in spring training.

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The five players I think definitely will make the team are Chapman, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, Burke Badenhop and Tony Cingrani. LeCure and Parra, two veterans, have done nothing to otherwise show they should not be in the bullpen. Badenhop has struggled mightily this spring, but as the Reds’ main free agent pickup this offseason, he’ll be given a chance. He’s a groundball specialist and that’s probably how Bryan Price will use him late in the game. Cingrani has continued to perform since being told he will compete for a bullpen spot, pitching four innings and allowing no hits or runs while striking out six.

This leaves four players vying for two likely open spots: Jumbo Diaz, J.J. Hoover, Kevin Gregg and Michael Lorenzen. While Gregg and Lorenzen have been pitching really well this spring, choosing either one to make the team would require a roster move.

Sean Marshall will probably go on the 60-day DL, which opens up one spot. I’d say that Gregg makes the team given the way he’s pitched this spring. He has experience in the closer role and thus could have an easy transition into the setup role. If that’s the case, the final spot would come down to Diaz, Hoover and Lorenzen.

Although Price has hinted that Lorenzen could make the Opening Day roster pitching out of the bullpen, I think he’ll be sent to Louisville to pitch in the starting rotation. This means it’s between Diaz and Hoover. I said in my January post that Hoover would make the team. Now, I’m not so sure. Hoover has pitched five innings this spring, giving up five hits and three runs. Two of those hits were home runs. But Diaz hasn’t pitched well either, giving up two earned runs in three innings, including a home run.

Both players are on the 40-man, so neither would require a roster move. My guess is the Reds go with Hoover to start the season and if he has any kind of trouble, they won’t hesitate to bring up Diaz. Honestly though, it could be either one of them. Look for both pitchers to get a lot of work in the last week of spring training games in order for Reds management to determine who gets the call.

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