With no apologies necessary to Dinah Washington, who sang ‘What a Difference a Day Makes,’ with the Cincinnati Reds it is ‘What a Difference Two Guys Make.’
The ‘Two Guys’ are Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen and it is a bit ironic that those are the two guys who have put some stability in the world’s worst bullpen.
Yes, it is a very small sampling, but what they have done recently gives more than a little hope for the beleaguered bullpen.
AMAZINGLY, BOTH IGLESIAS and Lorenzen figured to be part of the Reds five-man starting rotation when spring training began. And, in fact, Iglesias was the team’s Opening Day starter.
But both Iglesias and Lorenzen lapsed on to the disabled list and spent most of the first half of the season paying daily visits to the athletic trainer’s room.
When they were ready to come off the DL at approximately the same time manager Bryan Price made a wise decision. Instead of dropping them back into the rotation he decided to ease them back into their workloads by placing them in the bullpen so they would not be called upon to pitch more than two or three innings at a time as they built arm strength.
AS IF BY MAGIC, good things began to happen.
The Reds won their last two games in Chicago against a Cubs team that had beaten them 10 of the first 11 games this season. True, the Cubs are in a downward spiral right now, but what Iglesias and Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani did was something the other members of the bullpen haven’t been able to do all year.
On Tuesday, Iglesias came into the game in Wrigley Field in the sixth inning with a two-run lead and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up two hits, a walk and striking out one. Cingrani pitched the ninth and strung zeroes across in the 9-5 win.
On Wednesday, Lorenzen came into the game in the seventh with a one-run lead and pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two while walking two. Cingrani again pitched a clean ninth for a save in the 5-3 win.
SO IN TWO GAMES against the Cubs the Iglesias-Lorenzen-Cingrani bullpen combination combined for seven scoreless innings, giving up only two hits and five walks.
And it appears, for now, that even though Cingrani is the only left hander in the bullpen, Price is using him as the closer.
Cingrani, who gave up home runs and walks at a horrendous pace earlier this season, is on target right now. In his last five appearances over six innings he has not given up a run, only one hit, two walks and three strikeouts. He isn’t Aroldis Chapman, but who is?
As was earlier noted, it is a minuscule sampling, but these days the Reds need any slim rope on which to grab and they are getting it from their weakest spot, the bullpen.
When Iglesias came back and Price put him in the bullpen, the Reds manager said, “We’re just doing this to easy Raisel back in and to protect him. He’ll probably be in the bullpen for the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be in the rotation next year.”
Iglesias, though, likes what he is doing and he saw the attention his fellow Cuban Aroldis Chapman attained in the bullpen. He said he not only enjoys the bullpen, where he worked when he pitched in Cuba, but he would like to become the Reds closer.
And it could happen.