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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Reds Preview: Bullpen

2014 Reds Season Preview

Today, we turn our attention to the Bullpen.

While Aroldis Chapman won't start the season with the Reds, signs are good that he'll be able to return and rejoin the squad mid-season.  Therefore, I'm leaving his brilliant projection.  Time will only tell how quickly he is able to return to his level of dominance--I mostly worry about his control in the short term.

In the meantime, with both Broxton and Marshall likely starting the year on the DL, the names being mentioned for 9th-inning duties include Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Manny Parra, and...Logan Ondrusek?  I'm all for the first three, but I was surprised to hear Ondrusek's name mentioned and immediately thought it was another example of the Reds loving him a bit too much.  But when I pulled up his numbers, I was surprised: Ondrusek arguably posted his best year of his career last season, despite the career high ERA.  His k/9 skyrocketed over 8 per nine for the first time, while his walk rate fell to a career low.  It was a far cry from the horrific 6 k/9 : 5 bb/9 season he posted in 2013.  I don't know if he can replicate last year's peripherals.  The projections sure don't think so.  But if he can, I have a bit more hope than I did.

The other three all project well; Sam LeCure (I heart @mrlecure), Manny Parra, and (to a lesser degree) J.J. Hoover all look really solid.  Parra probably should get a projection bump given that he has so dramatically changed his repertoire; he's not the same pitcher he was in prior seasons.  Things drop off pretty quickly after that, but any GM worth his salt should be able to scrounge up a decent middle reliever in a pinch.

Aside from all the injuries, one of the big concerns will be Jonathan Broxton.  Everything about him indicates decline.  His fastball velocity is down, last year dipping below 94 mph for the first time in his career.  And he's mostly a fastball pitcher, throwing four-seamers, sinkers, cutters at almost equal frequencies (~30% each), with only the occasional slider or curve.  I'm no pitching expert.  But I do know that 94 mph isn't very special in a bullpen arm, and I wonder if he should consider mixing in more off-speed stuff to be effective.

Next up...putting it all together again...