The 2019 season is not going well for Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. He has a league-leading five losses and a 4.86 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. Iglesias owned a 2.97 ERA in 321 2/3 career innings coming into 2019.
The last three times out have gone especially bad for Iglesias, who took two losses and blew a save. A quick recap:
- April 30: Allowed a walk-off sacrifice fly to Pete Alonso.
- May 3: Allowed a game-tying home run to Stephen Vogt.
- May 5: Allowed a go-ahead two-run home run to Brandon Crawford.
That's twice in the last three appearances that Iglesias entered into a tie game and allowed the go-ahead run(s). On Monday, Iglesias told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer he believes the team is using him all wrong. Long story short, Iglesias believes closers are for closin', and someone else should pitch tie games.
Here's what Iglesias told Nightengale:
"You can see the other closers, they don't pitch in tie games," Iglesias told The Enquirer. "I'm the only one who comes in tie games and I've given up homers and I'm losing some games. I feel really bad.
"I already have five losses, something that hasn't happened (to anyone else) in the big leagues. Five losses in the first month of ball. That shouldn't be like that."
"The way they are using me is horribly wrong," he said.
Teams routinely use their closer in tie games at home. Once the game gets to the ninth inning tied, there can't be a save situation for a home team. Using the closer in a tie game on the road still rarely happens though. Many managers hold the closer back for the save situation that may never come.
For what it's worth, Iglesias has been much better in save situations than non-save situations both this year (3.86 ERA vs. 6.14 ERA) and throughout his career (2.12 ERA vs. 3.10 ERA). Is that a good enough reason to stay away from him in tie games? Eh, aren't Iglesias' career numbers in non-save situations better than most relievers overall?
Either way, this is probably something Iglesias should've taken up with manager David Bell and the organization before opening up to the media. Complaining about usage -- regardless of his intent, that's what it sounds like Iglesias is doing, complaining -- is a no-win situation. Not going to gain any sympathy that way.
Iglesias has been a shutdown closer the last few years, truly one of the best relievers in baseball, and now a new manager is using him in a new way. The numbers say Bell is correct. You should have your best reliever on the mound in the late innings of a tie game. It's up to Iglesias to adjust to that role.