How Reiver Sanmartin can become a key piece of the Reds bullpen

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Reiver Sanmartin
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Reiver Sanmartin / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

Reiver Sanmartin appeared twice during the 2021 season and looked quite impressive. Acquired from the New York Yankees in 2019, Sanmartin had been stashed away in the minor leagues for years but received an opportunity to help the Reds close out their 2021 campaign.

The lefty showed some impressive stuff, albeit against the Pittsburgh Pirates, logging 11.2 innings and striking out 11 of the 47 batters he faced while walking just two. Those two starts earned Sanmartin a chance to be part of the Cincinnati Reds rotation in 2022.

Unfortunately, Sanmartin's success as a starter was short-lived. A disasterous start to the season saw Sanmartin post an unsightly ERA of 19.85 while allowing more walks (9) and strikeouts (8). It resulted in Sanmartin's demotion to the minors and an adjustment to his role with the Reds.

How Reiver Sanmartin can become a key piece of the Reds bullpen.

The Cincinnati Reds sent Reiver Sanmartin down to Triple-A Louisville in early-May and allowed the southpaw to make just two starts during his seven-game stint in the minors. Sanmartin corrected some of the issues that plagued him during his four major league starts.

Sanmartin went 2-2 with a 7.36 ERA, but in the 18.1 innings he pitched for the Louisville Bats, the left-hander recorded 26 punch outs and walked just four batters. That's 32.1% K-rate combined with a walk-rate below 5.0% was a big reason why Cincinnati added Sanmartin back to the team's 26-man roster. Only this time, it was as a reliever.

Sanmartin returned to the Queen City in mid-June and looked much better. The lefty went 40-plus innings in relief over the remainder of the season and posted a respectable 3.32 ERA.

For the moment, Reiver Sanmartin would appear to be the only left-handed pitcher that David Bell will have at his disposal out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. The only other lefties who'll be at spring training will be non-roster invitees Alex Young and Andrew Abbott.

While Abbott may eventually wind up in the bullpen, the Reds would like to keep the University of Virginia alum as a starter for the time being. In order for Young to make the team, he'll have to displace someone on the Reds 40-man roster. That could be an uphill battle for a pitcher with a career-ERA of 4.58.

Reiver Sanmartin can be a key piece of the Cincinnati Reds relief corps in 2023, but only if he keeps his walks in check. Over the final two months of his rookie season, Sanmartin posted a BB/9 of 5.32 and a walk-rate of 13.1%. That's not going to keep him in the bullpen for long.

With young pitchers like Ricky Karcher and Casey Legumina along with veterans like Derek Law and Buck Farmer, Sanmartin will have his work cut out for him this spring. Being one of the very few left-handers certainly helps his cause, but that won't save him if he fails to throw strikes.

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