Cincinnati Reds: Grading the deceptive 2019 season of Raisel Iglesias

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 21: Raisel Iglesias #26 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 21: Raisel Iglesias #26 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images) /

Despite setting a career-high with 34 saves, closer Raisel Iglesias was anything but reliable when summoned from the Cincinnati Reds bullpen.

It was a trying 2019 season for Raisel Iglesias. Anytime your closer is tied for the team lead in losses, it’s never a good sign. In addition, his early season complaints to the media regarding his usage failed to win him any sympathy among the Cincinnati Reds faithful. The question must be asked; does Iglesias has a future in the Queen City?

Twelve was not a magic number for Iglesias this season. The Reds closer was saddled with 12 losses on the season, while surrendering just as many home runs. This is the second consecutive season Iggy has given up a dozen round trippers.

To put things in perspective, Raisel Iglesias allowed 12 total homers for the 2016 and 2017 campaigns combined. Serving up gopher balls is no longer any anomaly for Iglesias, it’s a trend, and an unnerving one at that.

Cincinnati Reds. RAISEL IGLESIAS. D +. . RHP

During the 2018 season, Iglesias recorded 10 saves in which he tossed more than one inning. Fast forward to 2019 and that number has been nearly cut in half as Iggy only had six saves which required him to record more than three outs. However, when you dig into the numbers, it’s easy to see why manager David Bell was hesitant to go with Iglesias for more than an inning.

Unfortunately, Iggy posted career-worst marks in a number of categories. In addition to the number of losses (which led National League relievers) and homers, Iglesias’ 4.16 ERA and 1.22 WHIP were a career-low point for the 29-year-old Cuban. Furthermore, his six blown saves were also a career-high.

Keeping the ball on the ground was a major problem for Raisel Iglesias this year. His line drive rate of 26.2% and ground ball mark of 29.9% were both career-worst marks. Not surprisingly, his 43.9% fly ball rate was his highest-rate in his five years in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, opponents had a hard hit rate of 38.9% off Iglesias, which is ten points higher than his career-average of 28.9%.

What went right for Iggy in 2019? Besides establishing a career-high in saves, his 55 games finished led the league. Iglesias also posted career-best marks with 12.0 K/9 rate and a 4.24 K/BB rate. Unfortunately for Reds Country, the good news ends there.

For more than a decade the Cincinnati Reds have been blessed with excellent closers. From Francisco Cordero to Aroldis Chapman to Raisel Iglesias, the ninth inning has been relatively secure.

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However, Iggy’s propensity to surrender the long ball and his inability to keep the ball on the ground should be of major concern to the Reds front office as they prepare for the 2020 campaign. What the Reds do with Iglesias during the most important offseason in recent memory remains to be seen.