Is relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias, who had 30 saves last year, the best pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds? New manager David Bell seems to think so.
The Cincinnati Reds new manager David Bell looks to implement a new strategy this coming season. He’s going to take one the game’s best closers, Raisel Iglesias, and take him out of the closer’s role. What? Why would he do that? Because Bell believes that Iglesias is the best pitcher on the team, and I tend to agree with him.
Raisel Iglesias found a home in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen a few years ago. After the failed experiment of putting Iggy in the starting rotation, the decision was made to move Iglesias to the pen. Boy, has that decision paid off. Iglesias has become one of the best closers in baseball, with 58 saves over the last 2 seasons.
However, it now appears that David Bell, the Reds new skipper, prefers to use Iglesias in more than just the closer’s role. Bell is looking to put in Iglesias when it’s most advantageous for the team to get necessary outs. But, what does that mean? Why would you remove your best relief pitcher from a role they’ve dominated for the past two years?
Let me pose a question to you before we dive too deep into this; who was the most dominant relief pitcher you saw in 2018? If you answered anything other than Josh Hader, I have to say I’m a bit surprised. Hader, to me, was the best relief pitcher in all of baseball last season. Hader pitched 81.1 innings and struck out 143 batters. His stuff is wicked.
However, Jeremy Jeffress, an elite reliever in his own right, had more saves (15) than Hader (12). In fact, Corey Knebel led the Milwaukee Brewers with 16 saves. We should expect similar things from the Cincinnati Reds this season. Former the Brewers former pitching coach is now on the Reds staff in the same capacity. If Derek Johnson applied that type of philosophy while in Milwaukee, and it worked, one would assume he’ll use the same thinking now that he’s in the Reds dugout.
With the plethora of talented relievers in the Reds bullpen, the team has options. For instance, if the heart of the opponents’ batting order comes up in the seventh inning, and Iglesias takes on that challenge, David Bell could deploy Michael Lorenzen and Jared Hughes to close out the game. David Hernández could also be an option late in games.
Raisel Iglesias also has the ability to get more than just three outs. Iglesias, who’s started 21 big league games, in 16 of his 66 appearances went more than one inning. If the situation presents itself, manager David Bell could use Iglesias to close out an inning and then start the next one.
The closer has been part of baseball for a long time. Saves were not an official statistic until 1969, so even when players were put into a “closer’s role”, there wasn’t an official stat to track their impact. Lee Smith, John Franco, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez, and Eric Gagne are some of the most well known closers of all-time. Rivera was just elected into the Hall of Fame with 100% of the vote.
But, the approach to baseball is beginning to shift in a different direction. Analytics have taken over, and situations where you would typically see a team’s best reliever on display in the ninth inning are becoming more scarce. If Iglesias isn’t exclusively used as the team’s closer, it’s apparent that the Reds have adopted that philosophy as well.
Iggy will, no doubt, have several save opportunities in 2019, but the fact that his role is expanding should give fans an understanding that David Bell believes games are not just decided in the ninth inning. Sending Raisel Iglesias to the mound when it’s most advantageous for the Reds to get outs shows the confidence that Bell has in him. Iglesias is. the best pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds.