On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds signed left-handed pitcher Justin Bruihl to a minor-league deal. While Sam Moll is a lock to be part of the Reds 2024 Opening Day roster, Cincinnati would love to have two lefties coming out of the bullpen.
Reiver Sanmartin was non-tendered earlier this offseason, but both he and the Reds agreed to minor-league deal that will allow the former New York Yankees farmhand to rehab from Tommy John surgery. However, fellow lefty Alex Young is still clinging to a roster spot.
Young, despite the fact that he has minor-league options remaining, may not be long for the 40-man roster. There's one area of Young's game that didn't quite mesh with what Cincinnati was hoping to get out of the veteran last season, and it makes his presence on the roster rather meaningless.
Reds left-handed pitcher Alex Young had reverse splits in 2023
While the LOOGY (lefty-one-out-guy) is all but gone from baseball following the implementation of the three-batter minimum, the principle still stands. If you're a left-handed reliever, the expectation is for you to have success against left-handed hitters. That was not the case for Alex Young in 2023.
Young had reverse splits. Right-handers struggled against Young to the tune of .225/.271/.459, while left-handed batters posted a slash line of .272/.379/.408. Young did post more strikeouts against lefties (23.7-percent strikeout-rate), but also walked them 11-percent of the time.
Justin Bruihl, however, had the type of splits you'd expect to see from a left-handed reliever. The 26-year-old allowed left-handed batters to hit just .176/.243/.265 while posting a 27-percent strikeout-rate. But, there is a downside. Bruihl got hammered when facing right-handed hitters.
The southpaw was only able to induce a 14.3-percent strikeout-rate and posted a miserable 10.7-percent walk-rate against right-handed batters. Of the 84 right-handed hitters to face Bruihl last season, nearly 40-percent reached base safely. An .872 OPS-against is not a good look.
With Reiver Sanmartin on the shelf to begin the year, the competition for that final spot in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen may come down to Alex Young and Justin Bruihl. Both bring a different set of skills to the table, but only one is likely to emerge as the second southpaw in the Reds bullpen.