Saturday, November 10, 2012
Words of praise for the 2012 Reds bullpen
by: Chase Fitzgerald
The Reds bullpen this season was just flat out nasty.They boasted the best ERA in baseball at 2.65 and also led the league in saves, fewest earned runs, and fewest homeruns allowed, which is just amazing if you consider that they are pitching at GABP most of the time. This was the best bullpen the Reds have had in a long time. Yes, even better than the one they sported in the 1990's...
The Nasty Boys II
For those of you who don’t know, the Nasty Boys were Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randy Myers. They may have been the best trio of pitchers any bullpen has ever had and they led the Reds to a World Series title in 1990. They were just incredible. Dibble led them all with a 1.74 ERA but Myers led them with 31 saves and also had a very good ERA at 2.08. Norm Charlton’s ERA was a little higher at 2.74 but he did start 16 games so that definitely affected his ERA negatively. Well, this season the Reds had their own trio of relief pitchers that many people starting referring to as the “Nasty Boys II”. They were Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, and Jonathan Broxton. Aroldis Chapman led the pack with a lower ERA than anyone of the original Nasty Boys at 1.51 and he may have been more dominant too. Chapman also had 38 saves on the season even though he didn’t start the season as the closer. Sean Marshall’s ERA was at 2.51 but that was because of his rocky start to the season and Jonathan Broxton’s ERA as a Red was 2.82. If you average their ERA’s together, you get 2.09. If you average the Nasty Boys ERA together, you get 2.28. So statistically, the Nasty Boys II was better than the original. That could obviously be debated but as a Reds fan, this season I never felt more comfortable when my team had a lead going into the 7th. I never had a doubt in my mind that the trio of Marshall, Broxton, and Chapman would close it out.
Well, that Aroldis Chapman signing really panned out for the Reds. He was everything they hoped for this season with a 1.51 ERA and just being the most dominant pitcher in the league. He will definitely get some Cy Young votes this season and he deserves it. He has more strikeouts than some starting pitchers and his opponent’s average of .141 is just insane. He was almost unhittable. All this success for Chapman in the bullpen was not the plan in spring training though. During spring training, the plan was to prep Chapman to start this season and compete for a rotation spot. He did just that in the beginning and he looked like he was more than capable of starting but as you know, that didn’t happen.
Ryan Madson was supposed to be this team’s closer but after an injury that put him out for the season, our bullpen needed help. Luckily for the Reds, they had one of the most dominant relievers in the game ready. They moved Chapman to the bullpen which turned out to be a great move. If Chapman made the rotation, Homer Bailey would have not and he wouldn’t have had the breakout year he had and there was no guarantee Chapman would be successful. That’s not to say Chapman didn’t go through some rough patches this season and when he did, it wasn’t pretty. Chapman started the season with 19 straight scoreless innings and he was just unstoppable in that stretch but then, he finally gave up his first earned run and that must have done something to him mentally. He then proceeded to give up an earned run in his next 3 appearances and in two of those he got the loss. Then when everything started to seem better again after two straight scoreless appearances, he gave up two earned runs in each of his next two save opportunities. He went through a stretch like that in September where Dusty was forced to give him mental rest for 12 days. Basically, when he’s off he’s off but that is common in a young pitcher. He is only 24 and he can only get better which is just plain out scary for other teams. Whether he becomes a starter or not, one thing is certain and that is he will be fun to watch.
The Reds shocked all of baseball by actually going out and getting a big name free-agent. They signed one of the best closers in baseball, Ryan Madson, to the price of 8 million dollars and it the Reds bullpen just became lethal with Marshall and Madson pitching the 8th and 9th. But as you all know, Madson never got the opportunity to throw a single pitch in a Reds uniform. He had season-ending surgery before the season and strangely, that injury may have had a bigger affect on the Reds’ season than if Madson could pitch. That injury rattled off a series of events. Chapman and Bailey were going head to head for that final rotation spot and it looked as if Chapman was in the lead. With the bullpen not looking good with Nick Masset, who ended up never coming back, and Madson out, Chapman was forced to be moved to the bullpen. This also meant Bailey got to be in the rotation. Homer than went on to arguably become another ace for the team as he just plain out dominated. He may have never got a chance to do that if Madson would have been healthy. So, I guess this was a blessing in disguise but, this team may have been better with Chapman in the rotation but that’s all a bunch of “what ifs” and they will never be answered. I really hope the Reds try to bring back Madson because this bullpen may be one of the best ever with Marshall, Madson, and Chapman is the 7th, 8th, and 9th.