Reds' supposed strength was biggest weakness during opening weekend vs. Nationals

The Reds bullpen needs to take a long look in the mirror.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Buck Farmer (46) pitches
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Buck Farmer (46) pitches / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Heading into Opening Day, there were certainly questions regarding the Cincinnati Reds starting lineup. The Reds were without suspended infielder Noelvi Marte, while both TJ Friedl, and Matt McLain began the season on the injured list. But Cincinnati's bats were not the problem during the team's series victory over the Washington Nationals this weekend as the Reds averaged nearly seven runs per game.

The starting rotation was also a big question mark heading into the opening series. Is Frankie Montas fully healthy? Can Hunter Greene finally turn into that 'ace' everyone expects him to be? Is Nick Martinez a starter or a reliever? While not every one of those questions was answered during the first weekend of the season, each pitcher left the game having allowed three runs or fewer.

Though the Reds defense was bad, it was never expected to be elite. The bullpen, however, was supposed to be the Reds strength in 2024. Cincinnati was returning All-Star closer Alexis Diaz, added veterans Justin Wilson, Emilio Pagán, and Brent Suter, and Tejay Antone was finally healthy. Unfortunately, the Reds bullpen is the biggest reason why Cincinnati isn't undefeated heading into the second week of the season.

The Reds bullpen was a disaster during opening weekend vs. the Nationals

The Reds bullpen logged a total of 11.1 inning during the first three games of the season and currently owns a 7.15 ERA. Cincinnati relievers allowed nine runs on 11 hits including three home runs. Yes, the bullpen racked up 16 punch outs but also walked five batters, and single-handedly lost Saturday's game by allowing the Nats to score five runs in the final three innings.

Now not every Reds reliever was off his game. Suter looked very good, working 2.2 scoreless innings and striking out four batters. Fernando Cruz was dynamite. Arguably the best reliever in the Reds bullpen, Cruz struck out struck out five Nationals hitters and didn't allow a walk. Lucas Sims struggled in his first outing of the season, but the right-hander rallied on Sunday and looked much more like himself.

But Diaz pitched horribly on Saturday. The Reds closer allowed three runs on two hits and walked two batters. There were some questionable calls early in his appearance, but Diaz needs to put those types of things behind him and stay focused. Buck Farmer struggled on Sunday, and so did Antone.

Both right-handers were shaky. Farmer allowed two hits, including a home run, while striking out just one and hitting a batter. Antone was pulled having not recorded an out. Antone was lifted in favor of Cruz after loading the bases in the eighth inning on Sunday.

The Reds bullpen was supposed to be the one thing that manager David Bell could count on in 2024. While it's still very early, the relief corps will need to get their act together quickly. The life of a reliever requires a short memory, and with Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and the rest of Philadelphia Phillies bats next on the calendar, the Reds bullpen needs to have its A-game with a visit to Citizen's Bank Park on tap.

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