The Cincinnati Reds starting rotation seems to be set, but what about the bullpen? Could Xavier Cedeño be the missing piece?
Xavier Cedeño is still unsigned. While the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation appears to be set for the upcoming season, there’s still room for improvement in the bullpen. Would the Reds be wise to sign the former Milwaukee Brewers reliever?
Cedeño played for both the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers last season. In 25.1 innings spanning 33 games with the White Sox, Cedeño struck out 28 batters with a 2.84 ERA. Cedeño was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor-league prospects Bryan Connell and Johan Dominguez just before September.
In 15 games with the Brewers, Cedeño pitched 8 innings, struck out 6 batters, and didn’t allow a home run. He put together a 1.13 ERA and a 2.79 FIP. Cedeño, of course, has familiarity with new Cincinnati Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, who was Milwaukee’s pitching coach last season.
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The Reds have definitely “got the pitching” this offseason with the additions of Sonny Gray, Alex Wood, and Tanner Roark. Those three now appear set to join Luis Castillo in the starting rotation. Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, and Anthony Desclafani will likely be battling it out in Spring Training for the final spot.
But, while the starting rotation is improved, little attention has been paid to the bullpen thus far this offseason. Now, the Reds bullpen was actually one of their strengths last season, with the likes of Jared Hughes, Raisel Iglesias, and David Hernandez holding their own once the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings came around.
Michael Lorenzen, who has an outside shot to make a run a starting spot, also seems like a lock to be making routine appearances out of the pen as well. But, with the increased focus on relief pitching becoming so prevalent in Major League Baseball, it may be prudent for the Cincinnati Reds to sign a couple hurlers that make their living going only a frame or two.
A player like Cedeño, if the Reds signed him, would be used much more like a left-handed specialist, brought in specifically to get out left-handed hitters. We all know the NL Central is loaded with talented lefty bats, and Cedeño was very good against left-handers last season. Left-handers only hit .212 off Cedeño last season. He was also very good with runners in scoring position, allowing a .143 batting average in 35 at-bats.
The Cincinnati Reds have a few lefties in the pen that they could throw at opposing teams. Cody Reed appears destined for a long-relief role with the team next year and Amir Garrett will likely be relied upon heavily out of the bullpen this season. Brandon Finnegan, a left-handed starter, may find himself off the team entirely, and Wandy Peralta had a very shaky season in 2018.
Peralta, who played very well for the Reds in 2017, suffered a setback in 2018. His ERA jumped from 3.76 to 5.36, his strikeouts dipped from 57 to 31, and his walks increased from 24 to 31. All of these stats changed with 20 less innings pitched in 2018. Peralta is the perfect pitcher to take up the role of left-handed specialist if he can find the strike zone again.
Taking a flyer on Xavier Cedeño could only help, especially if the club was able to negotiate a minor-league deal for the 32-year-old. Cedeño has played on five teams during his eight-year career, perhaps the Cincinnati Reds could be stop number six.