The Reds bullpen crumbled down the stretch in 2019, but confidence remains high in their core group of high-impact relievers, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
They formed the league’s best unit over the first half of the season, but the pressure never let up as the Reds finished with more one-run margins than any other team in the game. 57 one-run games plus another 31 games with a two-run margin made the difference in an up-and-down season for Cincinnati. Interestingly, President of Baseball Ops pretty clearly assigned blame in these games to the offense, defending the bullpen in saying, “When they did let things get away, I think they were, at times, unfairly scrutinized because I really think when the offense had chances to provide separating runs, get big leads, jump out, we just didn’t get quite enough of that, taking pressure off the pitching at times.”
The bullpen finished middle-of-the-pack by ERA, FIP, and fWAR, though admittedly closer to the top than the bottom. Despite all the close games, the unit still finished 25th in innings pitched, a good indicator for the starting rotation. All things considered, the Reds enter the offseason feeling pretty good about Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, and Robert Stephenson making up the core of their relief unit.
All signs point to another eventful winter for the Reds, but it’s the offense where Williams is focusing his attention. Despite some breakout power in the forms of Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino, the Reds finished 25th in the majors in runs scored. Their offense as a whole finished with just an 87 wRC+, also ranking 25th in the MLB. They have a ways to go to join the league’s elite in this regard: 11 teams finished with 100+ weighted runs created plus, 8 of whom made the postseason. The Cardinals 95 wRC+ was the lowest of any team in the postseason.