CINCINNATI -- The return of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman from the disabled list on Saturday does not just affect the club's plans for the ninth inning. It also gives manager Bryan Price some added flexibility in how he uses his entire bullpen, especially with Jonathan Broxton moving back to a setup role.
Broxton was 5-for-6 in save chances, while Sam LeCure and Manny Parra were used heavily in late-inning situations and performed well. But the bullpen has gone 3-8 overall, and relievers other than Broxton are a combined 1-for-6 in save chances with a 4.46 ERA that ranked 14th out of 15 National League clubs.
"I think where we've been successful in the past is having depth at each spot," Price said. "We can use Broxton on days we don't have Chapman. We can use LeCure and Broxton share some of the responsibilities of those late-game situations. [Lefty Sean] Marshall looked really good in Boston, and he's getting to the point where he can share some duties with Parra. [J.J.] Hoover can give LeCure a rest, [Logan] Ondrusek and etc."
One thing the Reds' bullpen has not been is overworked. The group's 74 2/3 innings entering Saturday were the fewest in the Majors, with the Braves having the second-fewest at 89 innings. That is a credit to the strength of the rotation, which came in tied for the Major League lead in innings pitched.
"There's just not a lot of opportunities for these guys to come in the fifth or sixth and, sometimes, the seventh inning," Price said. "We've spent a lot of time closing a game with one to two innings of bullpen work. For the most part, that's been Parra, LeCure and Broxton, with a bit of Hoover, a bit of Ondrusek. That's a good thing, but inevitably, there's going to come a time when they're going to be wishing for an off-day. That's just how the season works."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.