Recent meltdowns by the bullpen are cause for concern
The Cincinnati Reds pitching staff has been better than anyone could have imagined to begin the 2019 season. However, there have been a few dents in the armor as of late. Over the past 10 days, Robert Stephenson, Wandy Peralta and Raisel Iglesias have left Reds fans covering their eyes.
Right-hander Robert Stephenson was virtually unhittable in April. However, the turn of the calendar to May has not been as kind. In 2.2 innings of work, Bob Steve has surrendered 2 home runs. His gopher ball to the A’s Stephen Piscotty leading off the bottom of the 13th was the deciding factor in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss in Oakland.
Like Robert Stephenson, southpaw Wandy Peralta was sensational during the first month of 2019. However, just like Bob Steve, May has greeted Peralta rudely. Covering 3 innings, Peralta has allowed 4 runs including a homer and 2 doubles. His slash line of .429/.400/.714 for May is providing no relief to Reds fans.
Closer Raisel Iglesias made headlines earlier this week when he expressed his displeasure to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer about entering games in non-save situations. If anyone should be complaining, it’s Reds manager David Bell.
Iggy has been awful this season. He’s already suffered 5 losses, which is as many as he had in all of 2018. Keeping the ball in the ballpark has been a struggle. The right-hander has already allowed 4 homers and his 2.04 home run per 9 innings rate must improve immediately. In addition, Iggy’s ground ball rate 22.5% is a career low.
What could be the cause of Iglesias’ issues? First of all, his 2019 slider is not the slider he has possessed in years past. This year his average velocity of 83.7 mph on the slider is down significantly from the 85.5 average of 2018. Also, when Iglesias is getting hit, he’s getting hit hard.
According to Fangraphs, when opponents put the ball in play against Raisel Iglesias, they are pulling the ball 48.8% of the time in 2019. For comparison’s sake, his career pull percentage rate is 40.7%.
Equally concerning is the type of contact Iggy is allowing. For his career, Raisel Iglesias has a hard hit rate of 27.9%, however this year that number has skyrocketed to 48.8%. It’s obvious that pitching coach Derek Johnson has his first crisis to contend with in Cincinnati.
The Reds struggle to score on the road and the Giants struggle to score at home. While Reds fans can talk Pythagorean records and run differential all day long to make themselves feel better, the bottom line is this team needs to start winning some series.
The road to wellness begins this weekend in San Francisco. With Castillo, DeScalfani, and Mahle all toeing the rubber, the Reds are setup well to have a successful series at Oracle Park. I’m thinking the Reds take 2 of 3 from the Giants over this Mother’s Day weekend.