Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cincinnati's New Nasty Boys?

The Reds have not been known for great pitching in recent years. The last time the Reds won the World Series, in 1990, they had one of the most memorable bullpens in history: Rob Dibble, Randy Myers and Norm Charlton threw hard, dominated hitters and were, well, nasty. That will not be replicated, but the Reds have a really good bullpen in 2009, possibly their best since the Nasty Boys.

The Reds have been near the bottom of league in pitching for most of the past decade. This year, their team ERA is 9th best in the Majors, and their Bullpen ERA is 3rd. Last year, their bullpen was decent and ranked 8th, but in 2007 it was 27th. The Reds have three pitchers this year who have appeared in 25 games with an ERA under 2.00: Arthur Rhodes, Nick Masset, Francisco Cordero.

Arthur Rhodes

You know Arthur Rhodes, he's probably pitched for your favorite team recently. He's 39 years old, been around forever (since 1991) and is with his 7th team in 6 seasons (he also missed 2007). He has had some great seasons before (1.72 ERA is 71 games with the 116-win 2001 Seattle Mariners, which had a Nasty Boys-like bullpen with Jeff Nelson, Kaz Sasaki and, yes, Norm Charlton). He is 11th all-time in strikeouts per nine innings, and he is unhittable this year. The league is hitting .161 against him, 7th best in the league among pitchers with 20 innings.

Nick Masset

Nick is 2nd best in the league in opponents batting average, with the league only hitting .144 against him, while last year, the league hit nearly .300 against him, so he has made a giant leap forward to become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. He was traded from the White Sox at the trade deadline last year in the Ken Griffey Jr. trade. He struggled for parts of three seasons before arriving in Cincinnati last year, so it seems like a really good fit for him.

Francisco Cordero

He's making 12 million this year (Masset is making 400K), so he'd better be this good. With 18 saves, a 1.97 ERA and only 1 blown save, he is in the upper echelon of closers in baseball. He has a really good closer for several years, so there is no reason to think it will not continue. This is only his 6th season of being a full-time closer and he is already 7th among active pitchers with 229.

There are a couple of other really pitchers in their bullpen who are having good seasons too, such as Danny Herrera, who is 24 years old, a 45th round draft choice (!) of the Texas Rangers in 2006, and has a 2.05 ERA in 32 appearances. David Weathers, the 39 year old veteran, is have a nice year too with a 2.46 ERA.

If they can keep it going, Herrera, Masset and Cordero could be a nice trio to anchor their bullpen in the future. Cordero is 34, but seems to have a few good years left in him, and is signed for at least 2 more years in Cincinnati. For this year, though, with the Reds at 37-37 and only 2.5 games out of the NL Central, they may have to lean on the ageless Arthur Rhodes, along with Masset and Cordero, to stay in the race in the weak NL Central.

Bonus Trivia: Cincinnati has a .500 record and is exactly at .500 both at home and the road. Since the season expanded to 162 games in 1961 and '62, only 6 teams have finished at .500 with basically identical records at home and the road: The 1966 Indians, 1968 Braves, 1991 Angels, 1993 Dodgers, 2002 Phillies and the 2005 Nationals.

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