Buried in the box score of ThursdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Reds-White Sox spring training game was a name you may not have heard. Even if you have, you may not have paid much attention.
Lefthander Lucas Luetge (pronounced LIT-key) came out of the Cincinnati bullpen with two out in the bottom of the sixth in relief of Blake Wood, who had already surrendered two hits and a run. Luetge escaped a two-out, two-on jam with no further damage, and then retired the first batter in the bottom of the seventh.
Luetge is a non-roster invite to Reds spring training, and is scheduled to be among the pitchers working today for the Cincinnati split squad that plays the Oakland AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in Mesa.
A look at his career record shows 111 major league appearances for the Seattle Mariners between 2012 and 2015, with only 89 innings total pitched. The guy was the MarinersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ LOOGY (or Lefty One-Out GuY) for parts of four seasons. Over that span, lefthanders hit only .201 against him. The OBP was a bit high, at .286, indicating that control sometimes was an issue.
Last season, Luetge spent most of the season with the AngelsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ AAA team at Tacoma. He was on the big league roster for a few days during the season, but did not make it into a game for the Halos.
Luetge joined the Mariners from Milwaukee as a 2011 Rule 5 draft pick, and stayed with Seattle the entire 2012 season, meaning he no longer had to be offered back to the Brewers if he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the major league roster.
During a recent Reds spring training game telecast, announcer Jim Day asked catcher Devin Mesoraco about the bullpen. Mesoraco specifically mentioned Luetge and former Dodger righthander Louis Coleman as players in camp with major league experience who can help the team once the season starts. Mesoraco doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make those decisions, but the fact he volunteered that opinion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and the fact that Luetge and Coleman are still in camp getting innings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ made me take a closer look.
Presuming the Reds go with a 13-man pitching staff to open the season, there are still six spots open with less than two weeks until the opener. To date, there is no clear indication whether the braintrust will go with youth (as has been suggested here) or with veterans. Going with veterans would seemingly indicate a strategy of not rushing young pitchers, along with reducing the chances of them gaining a full year of major league service.
Going with younger pitchers might indicate a belief in the front office that the farm system has yielded a crop that is mature enough to be harvested now.
Also, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be surprised if Dick Williams makes some Dan Straily-type waiver pickups as final cuts are announced by other teams in the coming days.
Luetge and his split-squad teammates play Oakland at 4:05 ET on WSAI radio and Reds.com. The other half of the split squad plays the Cubs in Las Vegas in a game you can watch on MLB.TV (Cubs telecast).
If Luetge pitches well again today, the plot thickens on whether or not he may break camp with the club and head north.