June 25, 2012

Daily Brief: the Reds closer situation

Last Game
It’s pretty bad whenever the Reds lose, but losing a game and a series at home to what is arguably the worst team in the AL has a special sting to it. The Reds fell to the Twins 4-3 last night.

This loss was brought to you by the number 54 (Aroldis Chapman who blew the save AGAIN), the number 12 (Dusty Baker, who thought it would be a good idea to put Chapman in with a 1-run lead) and the letters W, T, and F.

Next Game
Tonight the Reds play host to the Milwaukee Brewers. The shaky Mat Latos (5-2, 5.20 ERA) takes the mound for the Reds. He is coming off a poor performance against the Indians last Monday. He opposes Yovani Gallardo (6-5, 4.22 ERA) who is on a much hotter streak at the moment.

Now I’m Free, Free-fallin’
The Reds:

  • have lost 4 of their last 6 series
  • have lost 5 of their last 6 games
  • lead the second-place Pirates by only 1.0 game
  • lead the third-place Cardinals by 2.0 games

There’s still plenty of time to restart the engines before they hit the ground, but pretending everything is normal isn’t going to get it done. So what’s changed? There haven’t been a lot of injuries and the offense has actually gotten better compared to those early-season games when they just couldn’t seem to push a run across even when the starter had only allowed 1 or 2.

Part of it is the starting pitching. Johnny Cueto continues to be Cy Young, but Latos has fallen back into the rough performances he was giving in April and Bronson Arroyo is handing out home runs like complimentary breath mints.

Looming larger, though, has been the relief pitching blowing saves: Chapman last night, Bill Bray on Friday, Chapman again the Tuesday before that. It may be time to reconsider the closer situation. Maybe Sean Marshall has earned another shot at it. It certainly feels like Chapman’s performance lately has been worse than the performance Marshall gave to lose the job in the first place.

Plus, many of us never really wanted Chapman in the closer role. The guy needs consistent rest, and he needs enough time in a game to use more than just his fastball, which guys are starting to hit as hard as they come in now. I know he’s on a short inning count for the season, but maybe Baker could find a spot start for him to try out the next time the flu-like symptoms come around.

What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
In spite of it all, Reds relievers still lead the National League in ERA (2.62) as of yesterday.

Comments are closed.