Thanks to an incredibly slow off-season, the Cincinnati Reds have a chance to bring back a pair of former players.
The Cincinnati Reds have already significantly upgrade their bullpen from last off-season. As they learned last year, though, you can’t have too much pitching. With so many players still free agents, there is a pair that the Reds should sign and bring back home.
Even though the Reds just signed a pair of set-up men, there is one more the team should add. Matt Belisle pitched for Reds for the first five years of his MLB career. He both started and relieved. His only career complete game came with the Reds in 2007 when he made 30 of his 44 career starts.
For his career Belisle has 14 saves and a 128 holds. That is basically one save per season. His holds are what make him so attractive to the Reds for the second straight off-season.
Last season with the Minnesota Twins Belisle earned 17 holds. That puts him right in line with Wandy Peralta, Michael Lorenzen and free agent pick-up David Hernandez for the team lead in holds. That is the sort of pitcher that the Reds need to support closer Raisel Iglesias.
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Belisle’s career has been a bumpy ride. He was a starting prospect for the Reds, pitched literally every other game for the Colorado Rockies in 2012, and had a career high in holds last year. His experience is worth a roster spot.
The Cincinnati Reds also have an opportunity to bring back one of their few late round success stories.
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The Reds drafted Josh Smith in the 21st round all the way back in 2010 out of Lipscomb University. There he was a first team 2010 All-Atlantic Sun Conference member. His last season at Lipscomb, Smith completed four of his fourteen starts.
As a Red, Smith tried unsuccessfully to save the arms of the other pitchers in 2015 and 2016. In neither season did he average five innings per start. In 2016, though, Smith showed promise as a multi-inning reliever.
Last season, Smith split time between the Oakland Athletics and their Triple-A affiliate. In Oakland Smith looked OK as a multi-inning reliever, but had trouble maintaining a low WHIP. He looked even better in Triple-A, actually starting a pair of games.
The Reds need veterans like these to augment the talented young prospects that are nearing readiness for big league jobs. Belisle would be a wealth of knowledge to an upgraded bullpen. Smith would be a nice addition for depth and a feel good story, too.