Reds bullpen ranks among worst in baseball

Iglesias latest reliever to blow lead

Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell started his postgame press conference Thursday by answering a question about closer Raisel Iglesias, who blew a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning and left the game after recording one out.

“He had a tough inning, really from the beginning,” Bell said.

That sentence that could describe a number of the Reds’ relief efforts this season. Despite 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Friday night’s 4-2 win over the Cardinals, the Reds bullpen ranked 26th in baseball in ERA (5.81) entering Saturday’s games. Only the Philadelphia Phillies (7.97), Seattle Mariners (5.95), San Francisco Giants (5.86) and San Diego Padres (5.86) bullpens have been worse.

Michael Lorenzen (8.71), Iglesias (6.75) and Cody Reed (7.04) have compiled the worst numbers. Lucas Sims (0.82), Nate Jones (3.52) and Amir Garrett (3.12) have been the most dependable relievers.

In fairness to Iglesias, his struggles on the road in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals came after a nine-day layoff, thanks in part to a four-day break the whole team had because of a positive COVID-19 test on Aug. 14. He bounced back Friday night, pitching a perfect ninth to pick up his third save.

Iglesias had delivered four straight scoreless appearances before his hiccup vs. the Cardinals. However, the performance by Iglesias fell onto a growing list of games the Reds bullpen has lost.

Through 24 games, the Reds (11-13) had blown leads five times in 13 losses. It’s hard to keep track of the lost opportunities, so here’s a list of the worst bullpen performances of the season in a loss. The list doesn’t include games in which the bullpen has struggled in a victory.

July 25: The Detroit Tigers erased a 3-1 deficit with five runs in the last three innings against Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and Iglesias, each of whom allowed one home run. The Reds lost 6-4 in the second game of the season.

July 26: In the third game of the season, Lorenzen gave up a tiebreaking, two-run home run to the Tigers’ C.J. Cron in the ninth. The Reds lost 3-2.

July 28: Reed, Garrett, Jones and Lorenzen combined to give up six earned runs in five innings. The Reds lost 8-5 to the Chicago Cubs.

Aug. 4: The Reds led the Cleveland Indians 2-0 when Pedro Strop allowed an unearned run and Lucas Sims walked in the tying run in the seventh. An inning later, Franmil Reyes hit a tiebreaking two-run home run against Nate Jones. The Reds lost 4-2.

Aug. 9: The Reds led the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 through five innings. Starter Sonny Gray gave up the tying run in the sixth. Michael Lorenzen and Cody Reed combined to pitch the rest of the sixth and were credited with giving up three earned runs on two hits with four walks. Joel Kuhnel then allowed back-to-back home runs in the seventh. The Reds lost 9-3.

Aug. 21: Iglesias hit the first batter he faced in the ninth and then gave up a walk, a single and a RBI single. He then balked, allowing the tying run to score. After Iglesias struck out Dylan Carson, Bell replaced him with Jones, who gave up a game-winning hit to Kolten Wong.

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