As the Cincinnati Reds have found out in recent years, the importance of a successful bullpen cannot be understated. For an organization that has boasted bullpen depth and success in recent history, the 2014 season has been anything but the same. As Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos have experienced over the past week, strong performances are quickly erased when the bullpen is unable to hold the lead.
In 2013, the Reds were tied for the fourth fewest blown saves in the entire league with just 16. Already in 2014, the Reds have accumulated 10 blown saves, tied for the fourth most in all of baseball. With the Reds sitting 7.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central, those ten losses loom large.
Likewise, in 2013 Cincinnati ranked 7th in the majors in terms of bullpen earned run average with a 3.29 clip. For 2014, the numbers have been drastically different; the bullpen ranks 24th with a 4.06 ERA. With a starting rotation that ranks 6th with a 3.49 ERA, the bullpen continues to be a glaring weakness for the Reds.
The possible signing of Raciel Iglesias could be the first piece of the puzzle to fix the group. With relievers such as Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman performing strong for the club, the team must look at upgrades over players such as Logan Ondrusek, JJ Hoover and Sean Marshall. Those upgrades seemingly would have to come from outside the organization, as AAA Louisville arms such as Curtis Parch and Nick Christiani have not fared so well.
Regardless of where the Reds find help, it is obvious that the team must take the necessary actions to improve the current weakest link on the club.