The Original Nasty Boys
The last time the Reds were crowned World Series champions, their bullpen was lights out. “The Nasty Boys,” consisting of Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers, combined for 351 strikeouts and 44 saves during the regular season. In the National League Championship Series, the trio pitched 15 2/3 innings, with Charlton surrendering the lone earned run. Dibble and Myers were named series MVPs, a rare feat for a reliever, let alone two. They also allowed just six hits, with Dibble not allowing a single hit.
They continued to dominate in the World Series, with 8 2/3 scoreless innings, again only giving up six hits. The Nasty Boys were considered a key role in the four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics. Only 28 years later, the Reds may have found the second coming of The Nasty Boys.
Nasty Boys 2.0
Jared Hughes, David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias could be the best bullpen trio in the Majors this year. While the new version of The Nasty Boys will not help the Reds win a World Series in 2018, they have absolutely dominated opposing hitters, and it is fun to watch. With the Reds hoping to compete in 2019, the shutdown bullpen will hope to contribute to the first title since the last time three arms of this caliber were in the ‘pen.
Hughes made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011. The 32-year old has spent every season in Pittsburgh before moving to Milwaukee to pitch for the Brewers in 2017. Since 2014, he has pitched in 67 or more games, with 55 racked up in Cincinnati. Since 2014, his ERA has only been above 3 twice, at 3.02 and 3.03.
Hughes has never received the recognition he deserves because he is not a closer. When you are a reliever, saves are the stat that people notice. Hughes only has 11 saves in his career, with seven of them coming in Cincinnati. Any team would be lucky to have Hughes as a closer, but he is always on teams with exceptional closers.
Hughes is known for his ability to force ground balls. Relievers will often come into the game with runners on base or in situations that need to prevent the ball from leaving the yard. His career 61.8 ground ball percentage is much higher than the league average of 44 percent. Hughes currently boasts an ERA of 1.30, the third-lowest ERA in baseball for pitchers with more than 30 innings pitched.
With Hughes under contract through 2020, with a team option for the following season, he would be an essential asset when the Reds compete.
Hernandez is arguably having the best season of his nine-year career. While he has had a decent career for his previous four teams, only his 2012 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks could be comparable to his season in Cincinnati.
Hernandez missed the first month of the season, so his innings have been slightly reduced, but since being activated, he has only gotten better. Although he is 33-years old, the limited action relievers see make his age less concerning. Aside from 2012, Hernandez’s best strikeout to walk ration have come in his 32 and 33-year old season. Like a fine wine, Hernandez seems to be improving with time. His WHIP(walks and hits per inning pitched) is one of the top indicators for a pitchers performance, and it is at the lowest of his career in 2018.
Hernandez, like Hughes, signed a two-year contract, making him a Red until 2020. If the trend continues, Hernandez will continue to improve, boosting his holds with more opportunities when the Reds enter the late innings with the lead. A 1.89 ERA is often hard to repeat, but if he can produce an ERA around 2.50, the Reds would be thrilled with the second half of the Reds’ setup men.
The third and final new Nasty Boy is the closer. Since entering the league in 2015, Iglesias has been one of the top closers in the majors. One of the top trade candidates at the deadline, Iglesias was not moved. By retaining Iglesias, the Reds told the league they are ready to compete as soon as next year.
Iglesias’ team friendly contract keeps him in Cincinnati through 2020, just like the other new nasty boys. With one of the best sliders in baseball, Iglesias owns a career K/9 of 10, with 2018 following the same pattern at 9.8.
In 2015, Iglesias was a promising young starter but never could quite find his stride. While making five starts in 2016, he was ultimately moved to the bullpen, where he has been nothing but exceptional. In his three years since his move to the bullpen and closer role, he has yet to record an ERA over 2.53, while pitching in over 75 innings each season, and 55 to date in 2018.
There is no doubt Iglesias would be near the top of the league leaders the last two seasons if the Reds provided him with the opportunities. Despite having the highest ERA of the new nasty boys, at a whopping 2.29, Iglesias makes batters whiff every time he steps on the mound. The youngest of the three at 28-years old, Iglesias will look to throw the final pitch the next time the Reds hoist the World Series trophy.
Bullpens can often produce the most criticism from fans when they do not perform. When they are shutting offenses down, they somehow become the most overlooked part of a roster. The Reds starting pitching has, not been great, in 2018, which makes watching quality pitching much more enjoyable to watch.
The nasty boys 2.0 have caught the attention of anyone who follows baseball. When the Reds enter the seventh inning with a lead, it feels like they have already won. If the Reds can grab a few starting pitchers in the offseason, or their young group of starters perform, this team will go a long way. Hughes, Hernandez and Iglesias, remember the names because a trio of this caliber does not come around often.
“From Our Haus to Yours”