The Cincinnati Reds’ Bullpen Needs Work

Sep 25, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher

Jumbo Diaz

(70) throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth at Great American Ball Park.The Reds won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was Opening Day and Johnny Cueto was amazing. In seven innings, he had 10 strikeouts, one walk and no runs and already looked to be in mid-season form. The Cincinnati Reds had a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the eighth inning when Kevin Gregg gave up a two-run home run to Andrew McCutchen that tied the game, essentially meaning that all of Cueto’s hard work went down the drain. That one pitch to McCutchen showed that middle relief is incredibly important and might be the most undervalued position in baseball. And moreover, it showed that the Reds might not want to have Gregg as their eighth inning guy.

Gregg is coming off of a not so great spring training (6.23 ERA) and has a career 4.17 ERA. Not the kind of numbers I want to see from a guy who is pitching to McCutchen with the tying run on first. Seeing Gregg on the mound to start the eighth inning was very surprising for me. Going into this season I was pretty confident that Jumbo Diaz would have a spot in the bullpen locked up, and that spot would be pitching in the eighth inning to set up Aroldis Chapman.

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Diaz, like Chapman, is a fastball pitcher that makes batters look bad.  In 2014, he collected 37 strikeouts in 34.2 innings pitched, a good percentage of which he did in the eight inning. He pitched well in that spot last year and put up a 3.38 ERA with the Reds and only gave up three home runs in 36 games.   Not to mention Gregg doesn’t have the kind of arm that Diaz has.  In his outing on Opening Day Gregg wasn’t able to throw above 91 mph. It’s safe to say Diaz could have.

The one-two punch of Diaz and Chapman could be great for the Reds and could even be reminiscent of the Nasty Boys of the 1990 Reds. And when Sean Marshall gets healthy the Reds could really have an intimidating bullpen.  But with Marshall out and the eighth inning spot apparently still open, I don’t see a reason why Chapman can’t pitch some of the eighth inning. After all, it continuously gets brought up that he should start. So if he could be a starter then he could definitely pitch some of the eighth.  Not to mention, the Reds didn’t have to worry about protecting or saving Chapman considering they had Tuesday off.

I know this was only the first game, and I’m not saying we should hit the panic button on Gregg; but personally, I’m hoping to see more of Diaz and Chapman coming out of the bullpen in the eighth inning this year.

Next: Todd Frazier looks good batting third