The Cincinnati Reds fired a manager at the end of last season for failure to live up to more than mere winning expectations. Dusty Baker was the one fired, even though he had guided the Reds to two NL Central titles and three postseason berths in the past four years.
If that’s the standard for firing a Reds manager, first-year manager Bryan Price may be lucky to last the year because his decisions and the use of the Reds’ bullpen are the biggest reason why the Reds lose more than they win, especially in one-run games in which the team’s 5-11 record is a direct reflection of the poor managing by Price.
The Reds are currently on a two-game losing streak of one-run losses that were abetted by meager offense but can ultimately be hung on Price and the bullpen. The Reds are fortunate to have their two primary bullpen anchors — Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall — back in action, but for anyone who watched the last two losses, you wouldn’t know either one was even on the team.
Broxton didn’t pitch in either 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox. That would be the same Broxton who has yet to surrender a run in eight innings pitched this year. Granted Broxton is the closer, but he hadn’t pitched since May 4, and the Reds had off days the day before and the day after the two-game series with the Red Sox. As such, the Reds’ best reliever was squandered by Price.
Marshall did manage to get into the second of the 4-3 losses to the Red Sox but only after his fellow relievers Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover coughed up the lead in the eighth. Marshall struck out the only two batters he faced to finish the eighth, but the decision by Price to once again misplace his faith in the likes of Parra and Hoover is apparently a lesson that he’s not learning very well.
Marshall got hit hard his last time out on April 30 but hadn’t pitched since until he came in after the Reds’ last game was essentially lost by Parra and Hoover.
Overall, the Reds bullpen is next-to-last in the NL in ERA (4.40) and dead last in WHIP (1.57). Hoover is the worst among a bad bullpen with a 1-4 record and 9.31 ERA, and Parra (4.26 ERA in 15 appearances) has had his share of problems. Logan Ondrusek lost the first game against the Red Sox and now sports a 6.48 ERA to go along with his 0-2 record.
With the fireballing Aroldis Chapman nearing a return, the Reds’ bullpen may do an about-face, unless of course Price continues to misplace his faith in relievers who just can’t be counted upon right now.