Or, at the very least, you can start taking prospective fliers on these four candidates, via the draft or free-agent waivers.
Sean Marshall (LHP)
One of baseball's most effective set-up relievers of the last few years, Marshall was acquired from the Cubs in December. And, by all accounts, he's the favorite to become Cincinnati's next closer.
In Marshall's last 150.1 innings (spanning two seasons), he tallied 169 strikeouts (and just 42 walks), a 2.44 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a K/9 ratio north of 10—all numbers befitting of a closer. Marshall also posted six saves during that time. This back-end experience should warrant Marshall getting a first crack at leading the bullpen.
Aroldis Chapman (LHP)
Chapman (90 Ks in 63 innings, 12.8 K/9 ratio in 2010-11) might have been the easy choice if the Reds needed an emergency closer last season. But with the club committed to converting Chapman into a starting pitcher, going back to the bullpen may not seem like the most palatable option.
Speaking of which, Cincinnati still has options with Chapman and were reportedly thinking of letting the Cuban lefty start the season at Triple-A Louisville as a means of building up arm strength for a May or June call-up. However, that plan might get scrapped, in the wake of Madson's injury.
With a fastball that routinely tops 100 mph, Chapman has the greatest closer upside of the four candidates listed here.
Logan Ondrusek (RHP)
At 6'8" and 230 pounds, the 27-year-old Ondrusek certainly looks the part of a menacing closer, but he's still a little raw for a bullpen ace. In his 120 major league innings (spanning two seasons and 126 appearances), Ondrusek only has 80 strikeouts, a 3.45 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a pedestrian K/9 ratio of 6.0.
This isn't to say Ondrusek would be a bad experiment at the closer spot, though. Not all players find their niche within the first three seasons in the bigs. Ondrusek would likely get plenty of run support from hitters like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Scott Rolen and shortstop Zack Cozart, the Reds' best pure hitter (.444 batting, 1.196 OPS) in Cactus League play.
Homer Bailey (RHP)
On stuff alone, the 25-year-old Bailey would make a fine closer. But with his multi-pitch repertoire and an extra-time requirement to get warmed up each time out, the Reds won't likely pursue this option.
From a selfish perspective, I have admired Bailey's fantasy ceiling since his Single-A season with Dayton (10.9 K/9 ratio) and desperately hope he remains a starter.
Yes, Bailey hasn't fully lived up to the Cole Hamels-esque expectations of a few years back, but I still believe Homer (nine wins, 106/33 K-BB ratio last season) can be a front-end starter for a pennant-contending club.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night.
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