Searching for Saves: Cincinnati Reds: With Raisel Iglesias Dealt, Who Should We Target?


The Reds are clearly looking to reduce their payroll, and the main focus has been on cutting costs in the bullpen. First the team non-tendered Archie Bradley, and now comes news of a significant trade with the Angels:

  • Cincinnati Trades RHP Raisel Iglesias & Cash
  • Los Angeles Trades RHP Noe Ramirez & Player To Be Named Later

It’s clear the Angels are making the move to try and settle their generally unpredictable bullpen. For Cincinnati, the recent moves create a significant void as they have jettisoned the two leading candidates for saves. With Michael Lorenzen potentially transitioning to a full-time starter, we have to wonder whether or not the Reds will look outside of the organization for a closer candidate.

If they don’t make a move, who could step up and emerge? Let’s take a look:

Amir Garrett (LHP)

Garrett has to be the odds on favorite to assume the role, after impressing in 2020:

18.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 12.76 K/9, 3.44 BB/9

For the second straight season he was a slider-heavy pitcher, throwing the pitch 55.52% of the time. With a 28.92% Whiff% on the pitch, that type of usage certainly makes sense.

Assuming he can maintain the control (he had a 5.63 BB/9 in ’19), the question is going to be whether or not he can keep the ball in the ballpark. Last season he was plagued by a 1.96 HR/9 and he has a 1.82 for his career. That said, with a 44.4% groundball rate (53.9% in ’19) and 30.6% Hard% there’s reason to believe in a significant improvement.

His luck metrics will regress (.188 BABIP, 100.0% strand rate), but that will just offset the improvement in his HR/9. There would appear to be reason to believe that he can thrive in the role, making him an intriguing name to monitor.

Lucas Sims (RHP)

Sims showed a similar profile to Garrett, just from the right-side, though he actually did a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark (1.05 HR/9). His strikeout rate (11.92 K/9) and control (3.86 BB/9) are solid, and he also did a good job of avoiding hard contact (20.0% Hard%).

That said, he lacks the true put away pitch we’d like to see from any closer (Whiff%):

  • Curveball – 14.10%
  • Fourseam – 13.90%
  • Slider – 13.46%
  • Changeup – 12.50%

That’s likely going to be what keeps him from the role, because there’s a good chance that his strikeout rate falls. It should still be a good mark, but he won’t have the elite type strikeout totals. Couple that with a .192 BABIP and it’s easy to envision a regression.

Dark Horses

  • Mike Lorenzen – While the plan is for him to move to the rotation, is that really a given? While he struggled with his control in ’20, over 315.1 IP as a reliever in the Majors he owns an 8.22 K/9, 3.45 BB/9 and 50.4% groundball rate (and over the past two years he’s posted a K/9 above 9.00). You could argue that he’s the best fit for the role and maybe he ends up with a similar fate as Iglesias (who initially wanted to be a starting pitcher).
  • Tejay Antone – A full-time starter as recently as 2019, Antone made 9 relief appearances and 4 starts for the Reds in ’20. He appeared to really discover himself as a reliever, with a 12.79 K/9, 2.84 BB/9 and 40.5% groundball rate. Considering he’s shown even more groundball stuff coming up through the minors, he has the potential to really emerge. Chances are he won’t open the year in the role, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he got there at some point.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--


  1. Just FWIW, Sims’ actual Whiff% per pitch (from Baseball Savant) was 46.8 on his curve (PutAway% 31.8), 35.7 slider (23.1) and 29.2 (19.7) four-seam. By comparison, Garrett was 57.1 (32.3) slider and and 15.8 (16.1) four-seam.


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