Reds: Bullpen has been key to 5-game winning streak

ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 06: Lucas Sims #39 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after recording the final out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 06: Lucas Sims #39 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after recording the final out. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Who are you, and what have you done with the Cincinnati Reds bullpen? Are we seeing the Cincinnati relief corps transform before our eyes, or is purely a coincidence? In relief, Reds pitchers allowed went three innings and didn’t allow an earned run in last night’s 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

I’m still skeptical, but I must admit that I’m pleasantly surprised with the recent success of Cincinnati’s bullpen. The Reds relief pitchers were the worst in baseball heading into last week’s series versus the Colorado Rockies, but after rattling off five straight wins, the bullpen seems to have turned a corner.

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen is rolling.

The Cincinnati Reds relief corps owns a  5.59 ERA, which is still the worst in the National League. But over the last seven games, which has seen the team go 6-1, Cincinnati’s bullpen has a 2.95 ERA and struck out 75 batters over 64 innings.

If we shrink the sample size even smaller, to the last five games, the Reds bullpen has been outstanding. The only run that crossed the plate last night was the “ghost runner” who started on second base to begin the 10th inning.

Only Heath Hembree allowed a hit in relief last night, and the Reds bullpen notched six punch outs in three innings of work. The night before, after Vladimir Gutierrez put forth a fine outing, Cincinnati’s pitchers didn’t walk a single batter, struck out six Brewers’ hitters, and didn’t allow a hit in three innings of relief.

Tony Santillan wasn’t able to go five innings in his major league debut on Sunday versus the Colorado Rockies, but that didn’t stop the bullpen from allowing only one run, a solo shot from Ryan McMahon, in 4.1 innings. Hembree, Lucas Sims, and Brad Brach each recorded two punch outs, and the Cincinnati relief squad helped preserve the win.

The Reds bullpen is doing this without Tejay Antone.

We haven’t seen Tejay Antone take the field since June 6th in St. Louis. The Cincinnati Reds right-hander was placed on the 10-day injured last last week and is eligible to return to the team during the upcoming series versus the San Diego Padres.

Now, you’ll never hear me say that the Reds don’t need Antone, but what Cincinnati’s relief pitchers have done in his absence is a testament to their abilities and the coaching staff. The bullpen has a 1.19 ERA over the team’s five-game winning streak.

Manager David Bell has shortened his bullpen, in no small part due to the effectiveness of Cincinnati’s starting pitching. We haven’t seen Sean Doolittle since last Saturday, Ashton Goudeau hasn’t pitched since the previous series against the Brewers, and Art Warren’s most recent action came in the Reds’ blowout win on Monday night.

Next. Cincinnati has found their leadoff hitter

We haven’t seen Michael Feliz (injured list), Cionel Perez (Triple-A), or Carson Fulmer (designated for assignment) is quite some time, and I’m perfectly fine with that. The Cincinnati Reds bullpen is rolling. Let’s hope they keep it up.