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The Red Report 2018 - Raisel Iglesias

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He’s a closer now. That’s still OK.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts:

  • Born on January 4th, 1990, in Isla de Juventud, Cuba
  • Started on Opening Day in 2016 for the Cincinnati Reds
  • Notched a career-best 177 ERA+ in 2017, saving an also career-best 28 games in his first full year as the team’s closer
  • Other career-best marks set in 2017: ERA (2.49), FIP (2.70), WHIP (1.10), and K/9 (10.9)

Organizational History:

Signed By the Cincinnati Reds on June 27, 2014
Debut April 12, 2015
Rookie Status: Exceeded Rookie status during 2015 season
2018 Contract Status: Signed thru 2020, 7 yrs/$27M (14-20)
Arb Eligible: 2021
Free Agent: 2022

Career Stats:

Scouting Report:

According to Brooks Baseball, Raisel Iglesias has relied on a mixture largely of three pitches, using his fourseam fastball (97 mph), slider (86 mph), and a change (89 mph), and sometimes mixed in a sinker (94 mph). What those categories and number fail to acknowledge, though, is that Raisel throws from roughly seventy-two different arm angles, making him much like an octopus on the mound hurling baseballs from all over the damn place at the plate.

I can’t imagine how terrifying that is from the batter’s box.

There’s this kind of absurdity:

Then, there’s this:

And sometimes, there’s this abbreviated wind-up, which just throws absolutely every ability to prep for what he’s about to offer out the window:

Woof. Good luck with that

2018 Projections:

Untitled

SOURCE G IP SV K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP fWAR
SOURCE G IP SV K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP fWAR
Depth Charts 65 65 31 9.93 3.08 3.34 3.43 1.4
Steamer 65 65 32 10.78 3.05 3.43 3.42 0.9
ZiPS 61 69.3 BOLLOCKS 9 3.12 3.25 3.43 1

Outlook

First things first...about those (^^) projections.

For one, let’s give friend of the blog Dan Szymborski props for both a) ignoring a projected number of ‘saves’ because it’s an incredibly inane state and b) actually noticing that Iglesias will absolutely have more IP than G. Both Steamer and Depth Charts have Iglesias projected to pitch exactly the same number of innings as games, and given Iglesias’ 2017 season and unique set of skills, that’s just not a projection that should warrant any merit.

Last year, Iglesias registered 15 multi-inning saves, and finished with 76 IP in his 63 games. That’s the kind of projection that actually makes sense for the electric righty, especially given his background as a starter and how successful his first full season as the anchor of the bullpen went in 2017.

Enough about the computers, though. Let’s dig into what we know about Iggy.

For one, that he’s still just 28 years old seems crazy, likely because he’s both a Reds whose been around for more than a minute and because he’s held so, so many different roles in our hearts in that time. Once an Opening Day starter and presumptive ace of the staff, he now seems entrenched as the rock in the bullpen, though in reality he’s only shown one full season in such a role. That season, though, only served to reinforce that he’s one of the absolute most dominant arms in the game, and using him late in games in strategic situations just might be what suits him best - especially given his lean, six-foot frame.

The brutal truth, I think, is that Iglesias has been the lone pitcher in the entire system that the Reds have been able to rely upon over the last three years, what with young arms disappointing and injuries ravaging what otherwise could’ve been a promising young staff. Even in a variety of roles, it’s clear that Iglesias is the single best combination of past results and present expectations that the Reds can roll out in an arm, and he’s a player who carries immense value both for that and for the relative bargain of a contract in which he’s operating.

As for 2018, I’d expect nothing less than what we saw in 2017, as the in-prime righty is still just growing into the relief role in which he dominated last year. And if the starting rotation improves the way it’s expected to improve, Iglesias might well end up with the kind of counting-stat opportunities that’ll have him talked about more nationally.

As for now, he’s a treasure of a player in Cincinnati, a player who has absolutely proven to be a worthwhile international investment. He’s poised to have a monster 2018, and we should be able to marvel at dozens of instances where he makes professional hitters look like goop over the coming months.