Monday, October 3, 2011

Season Recap by Position: Relief Pitchers

Day 1: Catchers
Day 2: Starting Pitchers
Day 3: Relief Pitchers
Day 4: Outfielders
Day 5: Infielders
Day 6: Management

In the third installment of our six-part recap series, we take a closer look at how the Reds' bullpen performed this season.

"I was brought into situations God couldn't get out of, and I got out of them." -Hall of Fame Reliever Goose Gossage

Francisco Cordero - Cordero nailed down 37 saves in 43 chances, which was good for seventh in the National League. Overall, he was 5-3, with a 2.45 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Coco was solid all year, especially when you consider that from July 6th - July 10th, he blew three saves and his ERA went from 1.49 to 2.95 in less than a week. That period of time earned him an unfair rap for most of the season, but if you look at the big picture, Francisco was pretty good at his closer job this year, even if he made it a little dramatic sometimes. During the 2011 season, Cordero recorded his 300th career save, became the all-time leader in saves for a Dominican pitcher passing his hero Jose Mesa, and ended up 12th on the all-time MLB saves list with 327. There is much speculation that the Reds favor bringing Cordero back on a two-year deal, at a cheaper rate than his current $12 million option, especially with no clear in house candidate to replace him, and probably not enough money to bring in a decent option from the outside.

Nick Masset - Masset led the bullpen with 70.1 innings in 75 games among strictly relief pitchers. Masset was great in the setup role in 2010. This year he finished at 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.52 ERA which are the highest those numbers have been in his time with Cincinnati. Masset was a guy who made the fans cover their eyes when he came into games in tight situations because you felt he was going to blow it for sure. The man who some have put into the conversation as the next closer ended up with 6 blown saves on the year, as his SO/9 rate was down to 7.9 this year from 10.0 last year.

Bill Bray - As predicted, Bray led the staff in games at 79 and for good reason. The lefty specialist was 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 8.2 SO/9 rate. He lowered his BAA vs. left handed batters from .198 a year ago to .180 this year and was pretty stingy vs. righties also to the tune of a .226 BAA. He is arbitration eligible heading into 2012 and looks to be on track for quite a raise from that $645K salary this season. The Reds should make him a fixture in the bullpen for years to come.

Logan Ondrusek - The monster righty was pretty effective on the mound all year, save for the time he spent on the DL with a strained right forearm in August. He pitched 61.1 innings in 66 games, both career highs, and finished 5-5 with a 3.23 ERA. There was literally a time in the middle of the season when I felt he was the only reliever the Reds had as it seemed he came in to pitch every game. I know the "5" in the L column looks ugly, but that happens sometimes, and I don't think you could expect anything more from him than the solid season he gave the Reds.

Aroldis Chapman - The results were mixed for the fire-balling left-hander from Cuba. He was 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA, pitching 50.0 innings over 54 games. He also picked up his first career save against the hated Cardinals. The numbers look good, and a majority of the time he looked unhittable, while zipping 100mph fastballs by hitters' strike zones. However, there were also frustrating times as Chapman would still sling 100mph fastballs up there, but just couldn't seem to keep them over the plate. Those appearance were normally when Chapman was asked to pitch multiple days in a row from the 'pen. It all led to him spending time some time in Louisville to work things outs, although he didn't look all that great down there. He did eventually come back and seemed to mostly be able to recover. He may not be in this post next year, as many expect him to be a starter next year, and given his inability to pitch several days in a row in 2011, perhaps every fifth day will benefit him.

Sam LeCure - LeCure was considered an outside contender for a rotation spot with the club and transitioned into its main long reliever. He did start four games though April, as part of 43 games and 77.2 innings. He was 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA. As a reliever he had a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings. He had rough patches in March, April, and August giving up 25 ER total in those months vs. just seven the rest of the time. So he was decent, and let's not forget about that 'stache.

Jose Arredondo - Arredondo was a pretty good surprise going 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA in 53 innings over 53 games, and coming off a significant arm injury. Right handers hit .218 against him and lefties were .238, so I'd say his season was a success after not pitching for the Reds last year while rehabbing his arm. Oddly, he struggled mightily in the 7th inning with a 4.61 ERA in that frame for the year, with 3.21 in the 8th inning being the next highest at 3.21.

Carlos Fisher - 17 G, 24.0 IP, 0-3, 4.50 ERA
Jordan Smith - 17 G, 20.0 IP, 0-0, 7.20 ERA
Jeremy Horst - 12 G, 15.1 IP, 0-0, 2.93 ERA
Matt Maloney - 8 G, 2 GS, 18.2 IP, 0-3, 9.16 ERA
Jared Burton - 6 G, 4.2 IP, 0-0, 3.86 ERA
Chad Reineke - 2 G, 2 GS, 6.2 IP, 0-1, 6.75 ERA
Daryl Thompson - 1 G, 3.0 IP, 0-1, 15.00 ERA

Group Grade: C
The preseason preview graded the bullpen at a C+. This group as a whole finished right in the middle of the pack in the National league again this year just like last year. They were 7th in BAA (.234), 8th in blown saves (22), and 9th in ERA (3.55). I would have given them a C+ again just for the LeCure 'Stache, and the fact that they did improve on their 2010 ERA (3.97) but they lose the punctuation for blowing that eight run lead against the Cardinals back in July (even though the Reds won).

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