The bullpen dilemma
By over a run, the Reds bullpen had the worst ERA in the Majors entering Tuesday at 6.54. No matter what combination manager Bryan Price has tried, there has been no success to build from. The bullpen tied a MLB record last night by allowing at least one run in 20 consecutive games.
There are some options among the prospects at Triple-A, and even Double-A, but the Reds appear not ready to summon them as reinforcements. That of course puts the manager in a tight spot when it comes to holding leads in the late innings.
“The answer to the question is keeping the eye on the progression of the players. Do we believe they’re ready to pitch in the big leagues?” Price said on Tuesday. “By bringing them to the big leagues early, can we slow their development? That’s the question organizationally that’s being asked when it comes to these players that you’re talking about. Because of the way we came into the season, saying we’re going to bust our tails to win as many as we can but we understand we’re transitioning somewhat, the impetus is not to say, ‘Let’s just reach down and grab the guy who’s pitching the best and get him up here as quick as possible.’ If we felt we were on the verge of winning the World Series, I think we would take more risks. Because of where we are, we’re not going to take the same risks early in the season. That would be my stance on it. My understanding.”
What about a reliever like Steve Delabar, a 32-year-old veteran who was signed to a Minor League deal just before the season? Delabar has a 2.38 ERA through eight appearances, but 10 walks in 11 1/3 innings.
“Good stuff. Walks are high,” Price said. “He’s just under a walk per inning. [We need to] get him harnessed back in the zone, but I think everyone in the organization believes he’ll be able to help us at some point in time this year. He’s throwing the ball good, good arm strength. He can miss the bat. The Major League experience is a bonus, but we’d like to see him controlling the strike zone better.”