Cincinnati Reds: The bullpen woes continue in the second half

Granted, Luis Castillo gave up two home runs in last night’s loss, but the Cincinnati Reds must fix the bullpen this offseason or we’ll see more of the same in 2020.

Well, it happened again. The Cincinnati Reds bullpen imploded last night, giving up five runs in two innings and squashing any chance of a comeback. The Reds sent two relievers to the hill following Luis Castillo‘s exit, and let’s just say the results left a lot to the imagination. The relief corp is definitely an area of concern heading into the offseason and one the front office must address.

Though Luis Castillo surrendered three runs on two homers against the New York Mets, he pitched well last night. Castillo gave the Reds 7 innings of 3-hit ball, but did put the Reds in a 3-0 hole. But, that’s another quality start for Castillo, and he gave the offense a fighting chance against Jacob deGrom.

Last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner held his own against the Reds bats, allowing just four hits through seven innings and striking out nine batters. While it’s easy to throw shade at the offense for another subpar performance, deGrom is in a class of his own with a 2.51 ERA and 248 strikeouts on the season.

The bullpen, however, is another matter. Cincinnati turned to two of its younger relievers in Sal Romano and Keury Mella. David Bell gave both right-handers a chance to show what they’ve got. It wasn’t much.

Romano, who came on in relief of Castillo in the eighth inning got rocked by the Mets offense. Romano gave up two runs on three hits, including a home run to the major league leader, Pete Alonso. Alonso crushed his 50th home run of the season off Romano with Jeff McNeil sitting on first base.

Alonso’s home run was smoked into right-center field, splitting the uprights so to speak, by clearing the Toyota sign and depositing the baseball between the power stacks. In all honesty, it wasn’t a bad pitch by Romano, as the 2-2 fastball tailed away off the plate, but Alonso went down to get it.

Keury Mella got to try his luck against the Metropolitans in the ninth inning and didn’t fare much better. After two outs to begin the inning, Mella surrendered a single, a double, an intentional walk, another single, a walk and another single before inducing a fly ball to end the inning. The Mets plated three more in that inning and led 8-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

While Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett have been solid out of the pen this season, most of the Cincinnati Reds relievers have struggled mightily. Robert Stephenson has had bounce back season as well and Lucas Sims has looked good in spurts, but aside from those four, the bullpen is a huge question mark heading into 2020.

Raisel Iglesias‘ future with the Reds will, no doubt, be a topic of discussion throughout the offseason. When given the chance to pick up the save, Iggy’s done well. But, when the game is tied or the Reds are in a close battle late, Iglesias has had his share of problems. His future as the team’s closer is definitely in doubt.

The remainder of players currently in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen are questionable at best. Matt Bowman, Kevin Gausman and Joel Kuhnel have had a few solid outings, but can they be trusted during key points of the game?

What about the youngsters? Romano and Mella are out of options, so they’re either on the 25-man roster or on another team. Cody Reed is in the same boat, though I think the southpaw will find a home in the Reds pen. Jackson Stephens, who did not receive a September call-up, is also out of options, but his future with the Reds seems bleak.

Last year, the Cincinnati Reds had a mission to “get the pitching”. That task should still be first and foremost on the front office’s list, but this year, it’s time to “get the relief pitching”. We’ll see if Dick Williams and Nick Krall can pick up a few key pieces for the 2020 bullpen this offseason.