You've watched the Cincinnati Reds bullpen crumble repeatedly this year. You've seen presumptive closer JJ Hoover optioned to AAA Louisville, where he now pitches alongside former go-to setup man Jumbo Diaz. You've watched as the likes of Drew Hayes and Layne Somsen have ridden down and back I-71 as makeshift replacements, as Ross Ohledorf was signed late in a last-ditch effort to bolster things, and as the collective unit surrendered run after run in game after game as part of a record-breaking streak of futility.
Well, it turns out the bullpen's streak of allowing runs isn't the only thing that is setting records. As FanGraphs' August Fagerstrom shed light on this morning, they're also allowing earned runs at a rate worse than any bullpen on any team in any year since 1961. That, though, is largely the fault of them having allowed the most homers per 9 IP of any bullpen on any team in any year since 1961. Ouch. Fagerstrom also acknowledged that the bullpen at least isn't dead last on that list in the frequency at which they walk opposing batters, though it is worth noting that this current iteration of Reds relievers boasts a BB/9 worse than 94% of all of those bullpens.
That is not good.
I suppose we can take solace knowing that these numbers almost assuredly cannot get any worse. Hoover and Diaz will undoubtedly be back in Cincinnati at some point in the near future, and it's virtually impossible for them to pitch as poorly when they return as they did to start the season. Keyvius Sampson may return, too, as his 1.37 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 4.00 K/BB in his return to Louisville suggest he's righted the ship at least a bit. Zack Weiss will hopefully be healthy enough to contribute before season's end, and the returns of Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Jon Moscot, and Raisel Iglesias should, in theory, mean starters going deeper into games and taking innings off beleaguered bullpen arms. In theory. At the moment, none of those things seem imminent, which means for now we just get to keep hoping things somehow get better.
In other news, Billy Hamilton rejoined the Reds prior to yesterday's game, as he was reinstated from the bereavement list. MLB.com's Mark Sheldon spoke with both Billy and manager Bryan Price about working Hamilton back into the lineup, and it appears as if the Reds' CF will be back in his usual spot on Tuesday. Since the Reds are in Cleveland playing with DH rules through the end of today, it was a pitcher - Hayes - who was optioned in place of Billy, but I'd wager that once they're back to NL rules beginning Wednesday we'll see another reliever - probably Jumbo Diaz - called back up, likely with Jose Peraza heading back down to Louisville.
Also from Sheldon: John Lamb didn't blame his previously sprained thumb for last night's poor execution and worse results. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed catcher Francisco Cervelli to a 3 year, $31 million contract extension on Tuesday morning.
Finally, managers of teams with awful records got their first bit of tight-collar this morning, as the Atlanta Braves announced the firing of Fredi Gonzalez after their brutal 9-28 record to start the season. Only the Braves, Minnesota Twins, and Houston Astros currently have worse records than the Reds, and the Astros are coming off a successful playoff season while the Twins boast Minnesota native (and Hall of Famer) Paul Molitor - who is only in his second year on the job. That likely means that Bryan Price's name will rise to the top of the hot seat lists from pundits around the country despite the reboot he's had to wade through, debilitating injuries across the roster he's been given, and being stuck with a bullpen that features nobody making more than $800K. It's almost as if he never had a chance, as Grant Freking wrote about for Cincinnati Magazine.