Reds bullpen steady despite multiple injuries
ATLANTA -- Cincinnati's bullpen has been outstanding despite the absence of dependable lefty Sean Marshall and power righty Jonathan Broxton, who have pitched a total of 34 innings in 40 appearances, as each has battled elbow issues.
While both continue to work hard in their comebacks -- something the team hopes will happen after the All-Star break -- the pen continues to go to work, and is working over the opposition.
The unit came into Friday night's game at Turner Field against the Atlanta Braves having not allowed a run in a team-record 10 straight games, a stretch of 28 2/3 innings. They set the record for consecutive shutout appearances Thursday night, hurling four scoreless innings of two-hit ball at the Braves. Reds bullpens had twice previously gone nine straight games without allowing a run -- June 3-14, 1971, a 20 2/3-inning stretch, and May 3-13, 1987, a 28-inning run.
The last time the Reds' bullpen allowed a run was on June 28 at Texas, when Tony Cingrani, pitching in his fourth inning in relief for an injured Johnny Cueto, allowed an RBI single to Jurickson Profar. Cingrani induced a 4-6-3 double play from the next batter, David Murphy, and it's been all zeros from the pen ever since.
Perhaps as remarkable is that of the combined 28 2/3 innings, only 3 2/3 have come from the arm of closer Aroldis Chapman.
"It's what you've got to do. You don't have much choice," said manager Dusty Baker. "We try and mix and match and put them in a position where they'll most likely succeed, put them in the highest position to succeed. Sometimes we don't know until they get in there, especially guys like Manny Parra, he's done a remarkable job, [Alfredo] Simon and Sam [LeCure], all the guys have stepped up. To a man, [Logan] Ondrusek is throwing better, J.J. Hoover, he's been good the last month."
Injuries have not brought the unit down; they have instead brought them together.
"We definitely have each other's backs out there," said Hoover, who has struck out 16 (the most by a member of the pen during the stretch) in 11 1 /3 innings (second-most to Parra's 12 innings), while allowing six hits. "Losing Broxton and Marshall was a huge hit to the 'pen, but luckily we've been able to rally and kind of put a Band-Aid on the bleeding as they recover. I don't think the confidence has changed all year. As a 'pen, we know that we can do the job out there and we're just trying to do our job when we get that call."
"We're a family down there," added Ondrusek, who has thrown blanks in his four appearances covering 3 2/3 innings, including two shutout frames Thursday night against the Braves. "Whenever somebody's doing well, it makes you want to step your game up to do the same, if not better. At that point, if you have seven guys down there doing their best and pushing each other to go a little better, then the results will come."