Heading into the 2012 season, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen looks pretty solid aside from one major issue: the closer. The Reds parted ways with Francisco Cordero with no replacement ready to step in. Will someone in the current bullpen step up and assume the role, or will the cash-strapped organization look to give all its extra money to a big-name free agent? As we await the decision, let’s take a look at the rest of the guys in the bullpen.
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These two pitchers function as long relievers out of the Reds bullpen. Capable of making spot starts as well, these guys can step in in early innings if the starting pitching isn’t getting it done and give the club a few solid innings, almost as if the starter never left. While a club doesn’t necessarily ever want to have to use long relief, it is an essential part of a bullpen and LeCure and Fisher are about as solid as they come.
Arredondo and Ondrusek, together with the two pitchers mentioned above, serve as middle relief for the Reds bullpen. Arredondo, after an incredible 2008 with the Angels, in which he went 10-2 in 52 games with only 11 ER, is a sort of reclamation project for the Reds. He missed all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery, so he’s a bit frustrating to watch while on his path to recovery. Ondrusek is a tall, lanky, hard-throwing righty from Texas with a dominant mound presence who has worked quite effectively out of the Reds bullpen the past two years. We may see his name when considering closers.
Bray and Chapman are the club’s left-handed specialists. While the club is grooming Chapman into either a closer or starter, Bray has been holding it down as the go-to left-handed specialist for a couple years. His slider going away from lefties is nearly impossible to do anything with, and I’d argue that he’s one of the best in the game at his particular job.
Nick Masset, Bray, Chapman
These three pitchers are the eighth-inning setup guys for the Reds. In 2009 and 2010, Masset was the most effective reliever out of the Reds bullpen. In 2011, however, his strikeout totals dipped significantly, and he racked up way too many late-inning losses for a reliable setup man. Depending on the opposing lineup in the eighth, the Reds may go with one of these three pitchers. In these three guys, the Reds have powerful weapons: a 98-mph, right-handed fastball; an 82-mph sneaky, left-handed slider; and of course a 105.1-mph, left-handed fastball together with a devastating slider.
Reports have surfaced that the Reds are interested in Andrew Bailey of the A’s. Bailey went 24-26 in save situations last year and is still young at 27 years old. The A’s would be looking for some offense, so if the Reds are willing to part with guys like Chris Heisey or, potentially, even Drew Stubbs, Bailey seems like a pretty good option for the Reds. If Bailey doesn’t work out, options are still aplenty in Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Brad Lidge, and most recently, Huston Street. In-house, the Reds have only a few options in Masset, Ondrusek and Chapman. While the Reds are on a budget when it comes to free-agent signings, they are still rich in prospects, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a couple of those young players dealt to solidify the back end of an already strong bullpen.