Last season was the first time in a long time that the bullpen could be considered adequate. All it took was signing an overrated closer to a ridiculous amount of money. But hey, they spent money and it worked. Wish they would do it more.
The relievers put up a 3.81 ERA last season, which is amazing because the year before the bullpen ERA was 5.13. The additions of Jeremy Affeldt, Mike Lincoln, and Francisco Cordero were the main reason along with steady improvement from Bill Bray, Jared Burton, and David Weathers. The only one of those players not returning is Jeremy Affeldt. The Reds remedied this by acquiring Arthur Rhodes in free agency. Rhodes pitched very well for both Seattle and Florida last year posting a 2.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and striking out better then a batter per inning. He is left handed and will probably be used as a left-hand hitting specialist, nearly the same role Affeldt played last season. In that sense, the bullpen is very similar with Cordero closing, Weather and Burton as 7th and 8th inning guys, Rhodes as lefty specialist and the Bray/Lincoln combo for anything else.
Cordero pitched well last season, converting 34 of 40 saves or 85%. He also struck out 78 batters in 70 innings. He should be improved this season because he recently said in spring training that he pitched last season with a bone spur that was removed in the offseason. Let's hope he can convert 90%. Let's also hope he gets more opportunities.
Burton was hurt for parts of last season so he was not able to duplicate his amazing rookie ERA of 2.51, but look for that form to return. The 27-year-old pitched very well in the middle of the season, posting a 0.95 ERA from late may until he was injured in late July. He finished the season with a 3.22 ERA. He is still improving and should continue to strike out better then a batter per inning as he settles into the 8th inning/future closers role.
Weathers posted his best ERA since 2003 at 3.25 and again was able to throw 70+innings. He is frustrating at times but manages to get the job done more often then not. He was signed to a 2-year deal this offseason but I would expect him to be traded to a contender in need of bullpen depth of the Reds are out of it again.
Bill Bray has battled injuries since arriving in Cincinnati from Washington. He is only 26 and posted a 2.87 ERA in 47 inning last year. If he can keep up that pace and stretch out to 60 or 70 innings, he could be a valuable member of the bullpen and the heir to the David Weathers set-up role.
Mike Lincoln was out of baseball before last season. He returned to pitch 70 innings and post a 4.48 ERA, which was about the league average. Hopefully he will improve in his second season back and the ERA will drop. Either way, he is a nice innnings eater but he is not someone you want on the mound in a pressure situation.
Overall, the bullpen looks sound with a good mix of veterans (Cordero, Weathers, Rhodes) and youngsters(Burton, Bray). The question in spring training is whether or not the flame throwing Josh Roenicke will make the roster as the final bullpen guy. He pitched live batting practice and let it fly at 98 mph. Would be nice to a change of pace from the batting practice speed of Weathers. The final spot may go to the loser of the 5th starter race, especially if Owings loses because he is a pinch hitter and relieft pitcher.
All in all, this is a solid bullpen that should be one of the strengths of the Reds.
We have now done the pitchers which means all that is left are the hitters. I will probably do the infield and outfield posts seperatly but let me warn you, it ain't looking good.
23 hours ago