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Iglesias leads strong back end of bullpen

Peralta, Hughes provide quality setup options in front of closer, but questions remain
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds' rotation compiled the fewest innings in the Majors last season, it was left to the bullpen to fill in the gap. Manager Bryan Price left the role definition fluid, and at first, Reds relievers provided the zeros needed when the starters faltered.

But workload and attrition eventually caught up to them. Reds relievers led the Majors in walks and hit batters and led the National League in runs allowed while ranking 14th out of 15 clubs with a 4.65 ERA.

CINCINNATI -- When the Reds' rotation compiled the fewest innings in the Majors last season, it was left to the bullpen to fill in the gap. Manager Bryan Price left the role definition fluid, and at first, Reds relievers provided the zeros needed when the starters faltered.

But workload and attrition eventually caught up to them. Reds relievers led the Majors in walks and hit batters and led the National League in runs allowed while ranking 14th out of 15 clubs with a 4.65 ERA.

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Heading into Spring Training, there will likely be several new faces. On Dec. 26, veteran right-hander Jared Hughes was signed to a two-year, $4.5 million contract. Vance Worley, Kevin Quackenbush and lefty Kyle Crockett will be among those in camp as non-roster invitees, and general manager Dick Williams may not be done making additions.

Video: Reds sign reliever Hughes to two-year deal

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpens for all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training, including this look at the Reds.

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Raisel Iglesias, RHP (closer)
Wandy Peralta, LHP
Jared Hughes, RHP
Michael Lorenzen, RHP
Kevin Shackelford, RHP
Austin Brice, RHP
Vance Worley, RHP

STRENGTH
Iglesias quietly emerged as one of the game's more dependable -- and durable -- closers last season. He had 28 saves in 30 chances with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 63 appearances. Iglesias also pitched 76 innings, leading the Majors with eight saves of at least two innings. Peralta led all big league rookies with 69 appearances and showed no fear in the lefty setup role while demonstrating improved command of a slider to go with his fastball. Lifetime at Great American Ball Park, Hughes has a 2.11 ERA in 21 games while pitching for the Pirates and Brewers. He excels at keeping the ball on the ground.

Video: STL@CIN: Peralta gets a double play, escapes trouble

QUESTION MARK
There are plenty in the front end of the bullpen, which lacks pitchers with extended track records. Brice and Shackelford got extended looks but have to do more to prove that they can do the job. Worley is coming off of a rough year in Miami, where he had a 6.91 ERA, but his versatility might come in handy.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
A lot could shift in this area, depending on if there are more free-agent signings. Any additions made would likely be Minor League deals or one-year big league contracts as prices drop before Spring Training. During the Winter Meetings, Price noted that two unnamed pitchers in the organization who have historically been starters would be given chances this spring only in bullpen roles. Lorenzen, who is being given a chance to start in camp, would return to a setup role if he didn't make the rotation.

Video: CIN@CHC: Hernandez K's Schwarber with bases loaded

The Reds like Ariel Hernandez, who has a big curveball and triple-digit velocity, but he has command issues. He could find a spot if he smooths things out. Also, those who are competing as starters this spring that don't get a spot in the top five could find work as relievers -- much like Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed did coming out of camp last year. Prospect Jimmy Herget, 24, is a sidearm pitcher who did very well in Double-A and Triple-A last season and could work his way onto the staff. Same goes for more experienced pitchers like Quackenbush and Crockett, who have not pitched as well in recent years as they did when they first reached the big leagues.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Jared Hughes, Raisel Iglesias, Wandy Peralta