The Cuban right-hander continues to be the Cincinnati Reds most valuable bullpen asset. Let’s take a look back at his 2018 season.
Since making his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2015, Raisel Iglesias has baffled opposing hitters with a variety of arm angles and an array of pitches. After originally being inserted into the starting rotation upon arriving in the Queen City, Iggy has ingrained himself as one of the top closers in baseball over the past two seasons.
Establishing a career high with 28 saves in 2017, Iglesias topped his previous mark by saving 30 games in 34 opportunities last year. That figure was good enough for fifth in the National League. Iggy also was not confined to the typical three out closer role. Of those 30 saves, 10 required him to record more than three outs.
The 2018 season also saw Iglesias reduce the amount of traffic on the base paths throughout his 66 appearances. Iggy finished the season with a 1.069 WHIP, while only allowing 6.5 hits per nine innings pitched, securing career best marks in both categories. His 2.38 ERA was a career low as well. However, some red flags were raised in last year’s campaign.
When Iglesias was hit he was hit hard. Surrendering a career high 12 home runs and saddled with a career worst 34.8% hard hit rate, his late inning appearances, at times, produced more drama than Reds fans would have liked. The 29-year-old right-hander also had a career worst 4.23 FIP, which was well above his previous high 3.55 in his 2015 rookie season.
Unfortunately, fragility continued to be a part of Iglesias’ story in the 2018 season. No stranger to the disabled list, Iggy again spent a short stint on the shelf with a left bicep strain. Luckily, it was an injury to his non-throwing arm. However, it was the third season in his four big league years where he has gone to the DL. The injury contributed to limiting him to a career low 72 innings pitched.
If the Cincinnati Reds are to contend in 2019 they will need a huge injury-free campaign from Raisel Iglesias. Throughout his four years in Cincinnati, he has proven to be effective in closing games and pitching more than an inning to do it. Let’s hope new manger David Bell and new pitching coach Derek Johnson find creative ways to get their best reliever to the mound as often as possible this season.