Iglesias shows electric stuff in relief

Iglesias shows electric stuff in relief

SAN DIEGO -- Reliever Jumbo Diaz faced one batter in the 10th inning in Adam Rosales on Saturday and gave up a walk-off home run for a 2-1 Reds loss to the Padres. But this is not another story about how poorly the Cincinnati bullpen has been performing this season.

Raisel Iglesias has helped change the narrative with stellar pitching since he returned last month. Before Diaz entered, Iglesias dealt San Diego three scoreless innings to extend his streak to 20 2/3 scoreless innings over his 10 appearances -- the longest such streak by a Reds pitcher this season.

"I feel really comfortable with this role that I have right now," said Iglesias via translator Julio Morillo. "It's what I've been doing since I've been in professional baseball, it was in the bullpen."

Iglesias replaced starter Anthony DeSclafani in the seventh inning of a 1-1 game and allowed one hit with five strikeouts. He retired seven in a row until Alexi Amarista's one-out single in the ninth. An Iglesias error pickoff throw sent Amarista to third base and forced Iglesias to pitch with the game on the line.

"After that throw, I focused 100 percent on working as hard as I can to get the people out and keep the zeroes on the score," Iglesias said.

Danger was dodged impressively. Jose Rondon was struck out swinging at a nasty 86 mph slider that dove away before Derek Norris grounded out softly near the mound.

"Especially this ninth inning I threw today, it was one of the best of my career," Iglesias said. "I feel really good. I made my pitches. Everything I want to throw is really working. My slider, fastball, everything is really working and I feel really good about it."

Iglesias, who was the Reds Opening Day starter, was on the disabled list from May 1-June 20 with a right shoulder impingement -- his second shoulder injury in less than a year. Moving him to the bullpen was a decision made for arm preservation, but it's been essential to helping Reds relievers turn things around.

In 12 games since his activation from the DL, Iglesias has a 0.38 ERA with 10 of the appearances being two or more innings. While the Reds bullpen still has the highest ERA in baseball at 5.30, it has a 2.13 ERA in 19 games since July 5. Iglesias, along with Michael Lorenzen, have helped manager Bryan Price keep other relievers fresher and by virtue, more effective, because they can work well in multiple innings.

One downside for Iglesias, he's likely not available the day after he throws multiple innings because the Reds want to be protective. But when he's in, he's full power with higher fastball velocity that routinely reaches 95-96 mph.

"His competitiveness, that's all things that we've seen. Now we're seeing it out of the bullpen with a lot more effort, a lot more stuff simply because he doesn't have to keep things in reserve to have to manage potentially a seven-to-nine-inning game," Price said.

"He's coming right after you if it's one pitch, as it was in San Francisco [Wednesday], or if it's three really good innings here in San Diego. I like a lot of what I see with Raisel. He's made a big difference in our ability to shut down teams late in the game." 

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.