The Cincinnati Reds biggest question mark heading into the 2022 season was the bullpen. Who are these guys and can they make an impact? Well, so far, the relief corps has answered the bell and are overpowering the opposition.
Last night in Cincinnati's 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves, we saw Alexis Diaz and Daniel Duarte make their major league debuts. Both hurlers looked impressive, as each recorded two punch outs. Diaz made short work of the Braves batters in 1-2-3 fashion, and Duarte allowed one hit, but bookended his performance with two strikeouts.
Buck Farmer got into the action for the Redlegs last night as well. The former Detroit Tigers reliever had a terrific spring and while he allowed a hit and a walk in last night's contest, Farmer also posted two strikeouts and emerged from the eighth inning unscathed.
The Reds relievers have been impressive early.
The Cincinnati Reds bullpen, who had to cover 5.2 innings in relief of Friday's starter Reiver Sanmartin, allowed a total of two runs on four hits. Jeff Hoffman (12) actually faced nearly as many batters as Sanmartin (15), and though he failed to record a strikeout, the right-hander landed 25 of his 40 pitches for strikes.
Alexis Diaz may have been the most efficient of the group of relievers last night. The right-hander effectively used his slider to induce three swings-and-misses from Braves batters and got two more whiffs on a pair of four-seam fastballs. Diaz was pumping his fastballs to the plate at 96 MPH of better.
Beyond last night, the Reds also had success out of their bullpen on Opening Night. Left-hander Justin Wilson tossed a scoreless frame and recorded two strike outs. Rookie right-hander Dauri Moreta allowed a two-run bomb off the bat of Braves' third baseman Austin Riley, but righted the ship and got out of the inning with two punch outs of his own.
The struggles that Luis Cessa endured on Thursday night might have been the most alarming as the right-hander issued two walks. Cessa walked two batters during his entire tenure with Cincinnati Reds during the second-half of the 2021 season.
We've yet to see Ryan Hendrix appear in a game. Art Warren, one of the most surprising pitchers in last year's bullpen hasn't toed the rubber yet, and free agent signee Hunter Strickland has not received the ball yet in 2022. I expect to see all three hurlers on the bump tonight once Vladimir Gutierrez is done.