The final spring training game takes place one week from today. The Cincinnati Reds will host the Seattle Mariners that afternoon and then they’re heading to Cincinnati to get ready for Opening Day on April 1st against the St. Louis Cardinals. Yesterday the organization made another round of cuts, trimming the roster down to 43 players, 21 of which are pitchers.

There are eight pitchers that seem like they are locks for the Opening Day roster right now. Injuries could change that. Players that would make the roster if we were certain that they were ready to go, but aren’t accounted for in that number include Tejay Antone (groin), Michael Lorenzen (shoulder), and Sonny Gray (back). It’s possible that all four of those players are on the roster and ready to play the first week of the season. Luis Castillo, Sean Doolittle, Amir Garrett, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Noé Ramirez, and Lucas Sims feel like locks on the pitching staff.

The Pitching Questions

With seemingly eight spots locked in, that could mean there are five or six spots that are potentially open. Yesterday we heard from General Manager Nick Krall and he stated that they were still working on deciding how large the pitching staff would be, noting there could be 12 or 13 position players on the team – which would leave 13 or 14 spots for pitchers.

One big thing that is still unknown is whether or not José De León and Cionel Pérez actually have an option available to use this season or not. Both pitchers have shown enough this spring that it is reasonable to put them on the 26-man roster, be it in the rotation or bullpen for De León or the bullpen with Pérez, but with a week left it’s certainly possible that things could change (though unlikely).

Sal Romano is a guy that we know is for sure out of options. He’s allowed six earned runs in 6.1 innings this spring. Three of those came on March 1st. And then three of them came over the weekend, but in that game over the weekend a ball lost in the sun directly led to all three of those runs, but since the outfielder never touched the ball, it wasn’t an “error” and thus the runs would go down as earned. That play is really skewing the ERA for Romano this spring.

Carson Fulmer just arrived in Reds camp over the weekend. A waiver pick up, he hasn’t yet pitched in a game for the team, and out of options, he has one week to show what he can do before the team has to make a decision on keeping him or exposing him back to waivers themselves. A former top prospect, he’s struggled in the Majors and has gone through the gauntlet of being waived and picked up five times in the last year.

You’ve also got a handful of non-roster invitees that are still in camp. Braden Shipley, Josh Osich, Brandon Finnegan, Jesse Biddle, and Cam Bedrosian remain and could be pitching for a spot in the bullpen.

Jesse Biddle 8.0 3.38 9 2 2 11
Josh Osich 7.0 6.43 8 0 5 11
Cam Bedrosian 6.2 5.40 3 3 3 11
Braden Shipley 5.0 7.20 7 1 2 5
Brandon Finnegan 6.1 4.27 7 1 3 6

With the sample size of innings, and as always, the disparity in the level of competition in spring training, the stats aren’t always worth looking into much at all. That said, if one were to look at the stats, Jesse Biddle stands out among the remaining non-roster invitees. But that might only be if we solely look at ERA. Biddle, however, also stands out for his walks and strikeouts this spring among the group.

If you’re going to look at recent past performance then the guy to focus on from this group is Cam Bedrosian, who has posted an ERA of 3.80 (64.0 innings), 3.23 (61.1 innings), and 2.45 (14.2 innings) over the last three seasons in the big leagues – all with the Los Angeles Angels. And realistically, it’s only his ERA that is questionable with his statline this spring. He’s allowed fewer base runners than innings, and he’s struck out 11 batters in 6.7 innings.

The unknown status of guys like Michael Lorenzen, Tejay Antone, and Sonny Gray with regards to if they’ll need to begin the season on the injured list or not, and the options situation with both José De León and Cionel Pérez leave the roster decisions a bit up in the air. If those first three pitchers are going to be ready to go to begin the season – and it’s worth noting that yesterday Nick Krall noted that he was hopeful that both Lorenzen and Antone would be.

But until we know for sure that they will be, things could go in a lot of different directions. If the team needs another starter, that could change who makes the bullpen. If the team gets an additional option year on José De León and decides that maybe he could use a little more time to work on throwing a few more strikes – his walk rate has been high this spring – that could open up an additional spot that may not have otherwise been there if the team would have to put him on waivers to send him down.

Unfortunately, right now the answers aren’t all that clear when it comes to the health and availability for a few important players on the roster. That puts the organization in a situation where they are having to weigh a lot more options than they otherwise would be if they knew that Gray, Lorenzen, and Antone would be good to go in the first week of the year.

18 Responses

  1. Gene Kehoe

    Man, there sure ARE a lot of question marks on this staff heading into the final week of ST, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. And in every single spring game it seems the starter has struggled badly in one inning and two or three of the relief pitchers have really rough outings. And in the limited spring games I have listened to I have heard 5 popups/fly balls dropped or missed leading to multiple runs. Aquino had a big one yesterday. Fortunately I don’t think any of those drops have been by any of our regulars.

  2. DataDumpster

    Maybe trotting out 35 pitchers in SP thus far and hoping to develop at least a few solid arms out of “fallen angel” veterans and such was a little too much to ask of our pitching coaches (didn’t one bolt and not get replaced also?). The pitching outlook is rather and not primarily because of injuries.
    The fifth wheel or long reliever was thought to be in the group of Antone, DeLeon, Hoffman, Lorenzen and Doolittle. Well, Tejay will be fine but the others have a total of 39 IP, 38 ER, and 14 dingers served up. Some of the others mentioned by Doug had some moments but the options game seems to be the decider here so clarity is lacking. Glad to see Garrett and Sims are finally going to get in a game but can they and all the other key pitchers shine with so little work and the minor injuries so early in the season?

    • DataDumpster

      The pitching outlook is rather (murky)… I meant to say.

    • Doug Gray

      Garrett and Sims should be fine. I mean, it’s possible they are a tad rusty the first week or so, but after that any rust that was there should be gone.

  3. Rex

    I’m hopeful that leadership has learned a lot in side sessions and “B” games and what we are seeing is bunch of guys “working on pitches”.

  4. Kevin Patrick

    A lot of these guys seem like they need to be fine tuned still. Assuming guys like Biddle, Osich and Bedrosian continue to nail down their deliveries the rest of spring, who has the most intriguing stuff? Who is the most hittable if they implode? How many lefties are necessary? If Suarez is playing short, how important is it to be or not be a ground ball pitcher? I have no doubt they will cut several who I will wonder “What if?” about… especially after looking at some of the guys that may be a given to make the roster…the Reds need to get a bit lucky and strike gold I think.

    • Doug Gray

      6.67 (2/3) rounding up! I’ll fix it. That was just a copy/paste from Excel where I guess the cell wasn’t formatted properly.

      • Moses

        I love that, Doug! I never liked how 2.1 innings was actually 2.33, and so on. Keep it at 6.7!!

      • Doug Gray

        I hate it when I copy/paste stuff and then need to calculate stuff based on innings and it’s 6.1 or 6.2. Then I’ve got to find and replace .1 with .33 and .2 with .67. It’s quick….. but still, it’s an extra few steps that shouldn’t exist! But, that’s the industry standard.

  5. DaveCT

    I thought Romano’s weekend outing was interesting. Prior to Aquino’s misplay in RF, the hit was a weakly hit ball hit past 2B. That said, he hung two sliders that hurt him. However, when executed better, that slider looked much sharper than in the past. Also, he was now running his fastball the opposite direction of the slider rather than sinking it. Both pitches caught my attention. Now its well known I am a long time, next town over in CT, Sal proponent. And i realize he’s still a fringy ML bullpen piece. But i’d say he’s showing the impact of a year with Boddy’s program. While he may not make it here, ge could now be an interesting (small) trade chip.

  6. MK

    To me it looks like DeLeon is going to be the only candidate to start among Lorenzen , Gray and Antone who is going to be stretched out enough to go 5 innings plus.

  7. Roger Garrett

    I have confidence the Reds will make the right decisions in the pitching department because they have a lot of guys that can start or relieve.These guys are not just bodies.Most are bonafide big league guys with big league stuff.Other teams will gobble up those that are released in most cases.Good problem to have.We have a really good pitching coach and we just need to listen to him please.

  8. Datdudejs

    Reds need another starting pitcher badly

  9. doofus

    “Ask people in the game what camp is the biggest mess right now, and Cincinnati tops a lot of lists. Simply put, the Reds —who failed to make any impact moves this winter — have seen things exacerbated by recent injuries.” ~Brittany Ghiroli, The Athletic, 3/22/21

    I have no idea who Ghiroli is. I read this in an article entitled: “Is Padres-Dodgers the best current rivalry in baseball? Reds’ camp struggles, plus more spring MLB notes.”

    • Doug Gray

      I also read the article. The quote is an enormous over reaction to some injuries that might cost a few players the first week of the season.

      • doofus

        When I read Ghiroli’s comments I was reminded of this: “They can’t do that to our pledges.” “Only we can do that to our pledges.”

      • Roger Garrett

        Sure it is an over reaction.For my money its better to get them out of the way early then later.My concern is getting those ready who will start on opening day and right now in regards to position players.Right now make a decision how our infield will look and play them.Only question mark is Joey.Play him and his back up some.Stop giving guys 3 or 4 at bats that will not start.Do that in other ways.On the side for example or in B games.Barring injuries they know who the position players are going to be including the bench.Be smart and lets get ready.