Bullpen Woes Building For Reds

Look, there’s no way the Reds can sugarcoat this. It’s bad.
Maybe beyond bad. Just when it looked like the back of the
bullpen had gone from an adventure to a real strength, down
goes Ryan Madson. I smelled trouble when I was out there a
couple of weeks ago. The Reds wouldn’t admit it last week,
but time was running out for their closer to get ready for the
season. He hadn’t pitched in a game yet. And he’d only
thrown the ball a couple times. A tender elbow went into a full
blown ligament by Tuesday. By Saturday, Madson was
declared out for the season, heading for Tommy John surgery.
Working on a one year deal, with an option now the Reds will
surely pass on for 2013, Madson puts eight point five million in
his pocket and will likely face a reduced payday when and if
he’s healthy enough to pitch again.

He’s lucky. Madson got the less complicated end of the
bargain.

What the Reds are left with is their primary set up guy now
closing and the seventh and eighth innings now populated by
the usual suspects. They have few options, and just one
other left handed pitcher who’s a candidate for the pen, one
Aroldis Chapman.

That’s where the slope gets slippery now for the Redlegs. not
only do they now revert to the adventures of Nick Masset and
Jose Arredondo for seventh and eighth inning relief. The loss
of Madson now throw Chapman’s name back into the bullpen
equation. You can bet Dusty has been howling for that ever
since the Madson news broke. But you can also bet Walt
Jocketty took a look at what Homer Bailey did Saturday, and
also what Chapman did in another game Saturday and came
to a different conclusion. One would think Jocketty said this:
we’re ten days from opening the season, with no left hander
in the rotation and at least two right handed starters throwing
batting practice. Jocketty has to know that the least cost
effective role for Chapman at this point is to revert back to the
pen, putting his starting role back on hold. It doesn’t make
economic sense.

Or as Castellini might say, “Dude, Where’s My Left Handed
Cuban Starter.”

Sean Marshall, who was really the closer in waiting as
Madson was certainly a one and done around here even
under the best circumstances, will now close. He’s done it
before. He’s got the mentality. But who gets the ball to him?
Masset was horrid for the first two and a half months last
season. Now he’ll open the season on the disabled list.   Arredondo, a Tommy John veteran, threw hard and only occasionally over the plate last season.

And while it’s easy to make the argument that the Reds really
never had Madson so how can he be missed, they also had
their bullpen built around him. Spin that into something
positive and Polyanna’s your date for the prom.
But I’ll point out something that’s a bigger problem today with
this team than losing Ryan Madson: half of the everyday
eight appears to be allegic to hitting the ball. Have you seen some
of these spring stats? Three of the Reds everyday eight are
hitting .231 or worse this spring.

Drew Stubbs, .231. Mesoraco, .226. Joey Votto at .225, with a team leading 15
strike out in just 40 at bats. Maybe nothing counts until a
week from this coming Thursday. But how uneasy does all of
that make you feel, after hearing the news about Madson?
Last spring, right about now, the Cardinals got the news that
Adam Wainwright blew his elbow out and needed Tommy
John surgery. St. Louis went onto win the Series A few years
before that, the Cardinals lost their closer, Jason Isringhausen
and Wainwright stepped into close. The Cardinals won the
world series that year, too. Maybe the Reds can tap into that
karma.

This is still a good team. But the loss of Madson brought the
Cardinals and the Brewers a little closer to the chase. Until
Saturday, Ryan Madson was only a rumor around here.
Today, he’s yesterday’s news. Before too many tomorrows,
the Reds had best figure out how to replace Madson, while
trying to jump start their hitting. Any bets on which will be the
tougher task?

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About kenbroo

Multiple EMMY Award Winning Sports Director At Cincinnati's WLWT News 5 and Sports Talk Host At 700 WLW
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