Throughout the 2014 season, the Cincinnati Reds have labored to win games, whether it be due to a carousel of injuries to key players, an anemic offense of underachieving hitters, a comedy of errors on the basepaths or through a garbage bin of a bullpen. Lately, the flaws of the bullpen have become most glaring, as the Reds’ relievers have lost six games out of the last 11 in which the Reds have gone 2-9 and blew their last remaining hope for postseason aspiration.
The bullpen meltdown has been a collective effort from the usually dominant closer Aroldis Chapman and the reliable Jonathan Broxton to the lesser relievers in Jumbo Diaz, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek, Manny Parra, Carlos Contreras and J.J. Hoover. The last four losses (three of them walk-offs) have been particularly bad for the Reds’ bullpen. The Reds’ relievers blew leads in all four games and lost all four. In nine innings of relief work, the bullpen was battered for 18 earned runs.
Now that the season is all but officially a lost cause for the Reds, the rest of the way won’t matter as much if the relievers improve or continue to fail. But the signals should be clear about a big priority for the Reds in the offseason — improve a bullpen that has the second-worst ERA in the NL and would be much worse than that if not for Chapman and Broxton.
The good news for the Reds is that they won’t have to wait to start the audition process for their 2015 relief corps. They have the rest of a wasted 2014 season to find out if they have any other arms in their system worth keeping, which won’t be hard to do considering the relievers they have doing the job now.