Reds Look to Waiver Wire for BP Help

Cincinnati has the highest reliever ERA in the NL of any team that does not play home games at Coors Field despite having almost 20% of their innings pitched by Aroldis Chapman who is sitting on a 1.17 ernie. Changes are commencing in their pen including waiver pick-up Ryan Mattheus who is expected to make a Reds debut soon.

The Cincinnati bullpen has been solid in the ninth inning, but the Reds must be doing a lot of head-scratching over set-up options to bridge the innings between their rotation and closer Aroldis Chapman. They threw in the towel on the Kevin Gregg experiment and designated the veteran and his double digit ERA on Monday. Their big problem is that there aren’t any other candidates currently doing a whole lot better.

Enter Ryan Mattheus who they picked up off waivers from the Angels on Wednesday. He’s spent most of his MLB experience with Washington including a couple of outstanding seasons with a sub-three ERA while making 100 appearances over 2011-12. There’s familiarity of him with the current Reds field management because third base coach Jim Riggleman was his manager with the Nationals.

Unfortunately for him injuries derailed (hopefully not permanently) a promising career and he was hit hard in 37 appearances in 2013. He made only eight appearances with the Nats last season before they led him walk. The Angels signed him last January and he turned in one scoreless outing with them this season. Now the 6’3”/220#, 31 year-old right-hander is heading to Cincinnati. Previously this year he’d been effective at AAA Salt Lake, making eight scoreless outings out of twelve appearances for a 2.84 ernie and sub-one WHIP.

For him to return to success at the MLB level he’ll have to regain his touch a sinker that has been successful at inducing ground balls in the past. At first that sounds a bit like current Cincinnati reliever Burke Badenhop, but Mattheus has more velocity on his fastball that he can run up into the low 90’s. Besides, Badenhop hasn’t performed any better this season than the departed Gregg, so if Mattheus or anyone else can show they can get out MLB hitters the innings are there for the taking.

Hopefully for Mattheus he won’t have any fights with a locker because his last one ended with a fractured hand in 2013. That sounds like something one would have to experience only once to learn a lesson. If the current Reds bullpen expressed frustration in a similar manner it might be time for the team to install some padding in the locker room. A much better alternative would be for their new member to continue his success from AAA this season and return the caliber reliever that Washington enjoyed in the first couple of years of his career. The Angels were probably hopeful he’d clear waivers and remain in their system, but he didn’t and now the opportunity is there for an immediate impact at the MLB level with Cincinnati.

Cuban defector Rasiel Iglesias got a call-up on Wednesday and made his second start with the Reds a very good one, allowing only two hits/three walks and one run over eight innings for his first MLB win. He was likely called to take a start to give additional rest to a rotation who covered a double header over the weekend. However, he’s been a high profile sign since joining the organization last year and that was indeed a performance that merited another one. He’s been starting at Louisville after previously relieving in the Cuban league. Comments from Cincinnati management indicate that the long term plan for him is in the rotation, but there’s only room for five pitchers there so whether it be Iglesias or an odd man out it could provide a possible option for another right-handed arm in the pen.

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