Reds: Archie Bradley and Raisel Iglesias wouldn’t have helped the bullpen

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 12: Relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias #32 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts as he watches a home run. The Reds traded Iggy this winter. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 12: Relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias #32 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts as he watches a home run. The Reds traded Iggy this winter. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Looking at some of the moves the Cincinnati Reds front office made this offseason, it’s easy to be critical. But, don’t pretend that having Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley in the bullpen would have helped. In no way am I suggesting that Cincinnati’s front office made the correct call in not addressing the bullpen, but those two relievers are not the answer.

The Reds bullpen has been a train wreck. The Cincinnati faithful are upset, and rightfully so, especially after seeing the relief corps surrender the lead during Thursday night’s loss to the San Diego Padres, and watching a two out, two-run shot but the Friars ahead in last night’s contest. But Iglesias and Bradley have not been good this season.

Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley would not have helped the Reds.

Both Iglesias and Bradley have struggled this season. The Reds made the unpopular decision to trade Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels for what amounted to a salary dump. Cincinnati’s front office also allowed Bradley to enter the free agent market after non-tendering the former Arizona Diamondbacks’ closer in December.

This season, Iglesias owns a 4.18 ERA, which is the worst of his career. He’s also serving up long balls at a record clip with a 2.25 HR/9. Prior to this season, his career-worst HR/9 was in 2019 (1.61 HR/9).

To be fair, Iglesias is having some measure of success as well. The right-hander has a 13.18 K/9 and 36.3% strikeout-rate; both of which are career-highs. Still, Iggy’s FIP is sitting at 4.24 and he’s getting hit hard (36.9% hard-hit percentage).

The decision to non-tender Archie Bradley was a bit more problematic for Reds fans, as they assumed that the right-hander would take over as the team’s closer in 2021. Once he was let go, the Philadelphia Phillies swooped in a signed Bradley to a one-year contract.

However, while Reds Country bemoaned the decision as the team being cheap and not wanting to pay for top talent, it turns out that the front office may have dodged an expensive bullet. Bradley is only striking out 18.3% of the batters he faces and 16.7% walk-rate is extremely troubling.

Bradley’s FIP is nearly at 5.00 and his hard-hit percentage is a shocking 52.6%. That’s not good at all. Bradley has also lost some velocity on his fastball that was sitting at 95.5-MPH in 2019 and 94.2-MPH last season. This season, Bradley’s average heater is only 93.1-MPH according to FanGraphs.

The Reds bullpen still needs help.

None of this is to say that the Cincinnati Reds front office should be happy with the performance of the bullpen. Nor is it to suggest that some changes need to be made prior to the July 30th trade deadline. However, to think that Cincinnati would’ve sunk about $15M into these two players and perhaps had those results is a bit of a relief; no pun intended.

Cincinnati’s bullpen is 4th in the National League in terms of strikeouts. The issue has not been getting opposing batters to swing and miss, it’s been keeping them off the base paths and keeping the ball in the ballpark.

The Reds bullpen leads the league in home runs allowed (45). Even the Arizona Diamondbacks have allowed fewer big flies than the Cincinnati Reds. Only the St. Louis Cardinals (153) have allowed more walks than the Reds (146). Given that Cincinnati is only 3 games behind the NL Central leaders, this is not a time to be idle.

Reds GM Nick Krall and manager David Bell were counting on Amir Garrett to be the closer, Cionel Perez and Jose De Leon to make an impression, and Sean Doolittle to be a solid veteran presence in the bullpen. None of that has worked out.

AG is a shell of himself, and the Reds should honestly consider designating him for assignment. Perez and De Leon have flashed their ability to throw overwhelming stuff, but have also allowed way too many walks. And Doolittle has done little for the team this season.

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When former 42nd round pick Brad Brach is one of your best relievers, you know you’ve got problems. The bullpen is an issue and the Reds front office needs to address it, but let’s stop pretending that Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley would’ve helped.