We are still a ways away from seeing Michael Lorenzen actually return to the mound in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. But when Lorenzen does return the plan is to have the right-handed pitcher come out of the bullpen. That was not originally the plan when he went down, and that wasn’t the plan when he headed into spring training, either.

Plans change, of course, and with Lorenzen’s injury it could be a multitude of things that led to it. The rotation doesn’t need nearly as much help right now as the bullpen does. Of course, that could change by the time that he’s ready to return, too.

“Maybe it’s an All-Star break thing for him,” manager David Bell said.  “He will come back as a reliever. So he’s not going to have to build up as a starter so I think we can get him back quicker that way.”

Not having to build him up as a starting pitcher might actually mean getting him back into the big leagues several weeks sooner, and if the All-Star break is kind of the “target” timeframe as a reliever, that would probably mean not getting him back as a starter until August at some point. Or perhaps the bullpen thing is just entirely the right move because that’s where he has a better chance to remain healthy moving forward.

For years we’ve seen Michael Lorenzen lobby to try and get back into the starting rotation. After his rookie year where he struggled as a starter the team moved him into the bullpen and in that relief role he found plenty of success over the years. But he’s always wanted to start and he’s not been given many opportunities to do so. Late in 2020 he did get a chance to make a few starts and that helped lead to him getting a chance to come into spring training in 2021 to pitch for a job in the rotation. He looked like he was going to land one of those spots before the injury took him out of the running for April, but early on the plan was still to get him back in the rotation but his arm wasn’t rebounding the way he and the team had hoped and the timeline for return began to seem further and further out. Now we’re in June and still seemingly six or seven weeks away from his return from what was originally thought to be something that would keep him off of the mound for a week or two.

26 Responses

  1. Ryan

    Long time to be out for a non-surgical condition

  2. redsfan4040

    This has probably been mused on before, but could Michael’s fitness regiment work against him as a pitcher? Dude’s in way better shape than I could ever dream of being, but could he be doing too much?

    Hopefully he’s effective when he returns, and the Reds are still in contention enough that it makes a difference.

  3. JayTheRed

    I like Lorenzen out of the bullpen better anyway. Glad they made this smart move.

    • Indy Red Man

      I still have a pipe dream of ML turning into Charlie Morton or Lance Lynn where he just pounds the power sinker in there and pitches to contact, but he probably walks too many to ever be a starter. They can definitely use him though in the pen and as a defensive replacement in the OF. He might be able to platoon with Naquin? It feels like we’ve only faced 5 lefty starters all season, but that has to change.

    • Doug Gray

      Bob Castellini….. is that you?

    • ohiojimwalker

      Lorenzen is a free agent at the end of this season. (only missed by a dozen days of making it this season). I am going to go out on a limb a predict that unless there is a crazy difference in the money, he will sign somewhere that offers him the opportunity to be a 2 way player.

      Even more than being a starting pitcher, this is what he has always wanted a shot at (and the starting pitcher desire may have sprung from it also offering the best 2 way opportunity for him).

      • Rick

        Lorenzen is my favorite player and I’m a long-time Reds fan. If he leaves maybe it’s time to stop following the Reds.

      • ohiojimwalker

        @Rick ML is also one of my long time favorites. A number of folks say ML’s shot at doing anything but pitching at the MLB level has passed him by. I do not buy into that.

        He’s got 8 seasons around MLB of not wearing his legs out running down flyballs and running bases; and, might actually play years younger in the field because of this. His exit velocity stats are extremely good for his limited plate appearances. This season’s PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus pegged him at 15HR if he were a full time OF.

        It will be interesting to see how things go for ML; and, I hope he succeeds after a number of years of being ill appreciated as a position player prospect and not as effectively used as he might have been by the Reds

      • Old Big Ed

        I think that to be a legit 2-way player, Lorenzen would need more ABs than he will ever realistically be able to get. Maybe the Reds wouldn’t consent to his playing winter ball as a hitter in years past, but the ship probably has sailed on anything more than pinch-running, some occasional outfield, and a little pinch-hitting.

        I’ve heard guys on MLB Radio opine that the best use of Ohtani was as a reliever rather than as a starter, because it would allow him to pitch in mostly very high-leverage situations, as opposed to the random weekly start. Another guy wanted him to be the designated Friday starter, ala college baseball. I wasn’t convinced either way, but Ohtani is a different animal than Lorenzen, and different from every other human, for that matter.

        Lorenzen might resign with the Reds. I don’t think that any team is going to offer him a huge pile of money or a long contract, so the Reds might make a competitive offer.

      • ohiojimwalker

        @OBE, I think Lorenzen has a ton riding on getting back and having a strong 2nd half as a reliever. If he doesn’t, given the current climate, I would not be surprised to see him end up in somebody’s camp next spring as an invitee on a minor league deal.

        With apologies to Senzel, Akiyama (and even Aquino) if ML has the shoulder to throw from the OF in a manner even close to what he has demonstrated in the past, he would probably be the best pure defensive OF on this team. He has demonstrated he can track and run down balls at MLB speed of play.

        His exit velocities and HR binges show he can catch up to a FB and damage mistakes. What kind of hitter would he be seeing a steady diet of MLB breaking stuff? That’s the unknown. Another unknown is how his body would wear playing 4 days a week or more in field/ running bases. As you suggested if he were to play some winter ball this off season, that might provide insights in these areas.

        And of course, how does it work for a reliever to get regular position time and still be primarily a reliever?

  4. TheCoastMan

    The FO needs to be realistic about this year and not do something like last year. Castellini is not going to pay Lorenzen nor anyone else for that matter. And, Castellanos will be walking at year’s end. Anyone that is not going to be part of the future needs to be moved by the trade deadline for the best prospects we can get. Not sure if Krall has it in him, but I hope he is working the phones right now.

  5. David

    The future Reds’ rotation is (in my humble opinion)
    Lodolo, Green, Guittierez, Santillan (only Guittierez is up now, of course) and one of either Mahle or Grey. I would keep Mahle, and trade Grey after the season.
    This could be a dynamite young rotation.

    And then…..try and fix the bullpen. (facepalm)

    Mike Lorenzen is frankly a really great guy, and has done anything and everything the organization has asked of him. He has the fire to compete, the intensity and discipline to prepare, and wants to win. Surprisingly, I don’t think every guy in the ML has that.

    Mike Schmidt once said that “everyone has the will to win when they get on the field, but not everyone has the will to prepare”.

    • Indy Red Man

      I think some guy named Vince Lombardi beat Schmidt to that statement))

  6. Rednat

    Is it just me or did Suarez look awkward making the throw to first on the bunt double play? i just noticed it on the replay. maybe a shoulder issue?

    • TR

      And could a shoulder issue be the cause of the underwater batting average with one-third of the season in?

    • Old Big Ed

      I think that Suarez just hesitated when he realized how much time he had to make the throw, and made sure he didn’t rush the throw. Barnhart had jumped out in front of the hitter to field the bunt, so the runner could not get out of the batter’s box like he ordinarily would have.

      Suarez’s internal clock didn’t take into account the fact that the hitter was two steps slow getting out of the batter’s box, and the hesitation was Suarez realizing that he had plenty of time.

  7. LDS

    Suarez (.158, career .255), Heineman (.125, career .185), Blandino (.203, career .227), and Farmer (.217, career .235) all starting at the same time. The jump to India is .025 (.242) and it goes up from there. St. Louis has to be intimidated. Suarez btw leads the team in GP and ABs despite being quite possibly the worst hitter on the team this year – which is saying a lot.

    • TheCoastMan

      Yea, Bell needs to have his head examined planting Suarez in the lead off spot. You mentioned India who is hitting almost 100 points higher — well, just a thought, but maybe we could move India into the lead off spot and slide Suarez down to the 6th or 7th hole, take the pressure off of him and give him a chance to work out his problems. Even a 2 week stint in Louisville might give him a chance to relax and work on some fundamentals.

    • Old Big Ed

      I prefer Heineman over Naquin against the LH pitcher. He’s a better fielder, plus it gives them a LH off the bench later in the game. They have 8 RH hitters against a lefty. I would have used Barnhart at catcher, because I think this is a crucial game for Castillo, who needs to go 7 innings if at all possible.

      The Cardinals have these type of guys too, although I will grant you that they aren’t playing as much as are the Reds’ guys. Matt Carpenter is hitting . 153 with little power; Rondon is .154 & career. 199; Lane Thomas is .105 & career .179; Justin Williams is .160 (both); and the backup catcher Kinzner is. 217 & .229. Even the Yankees have more stinkers than you would think.

      • Indy Red Man

        Better CF then Naquin? I doubt it, but Naquin hasn’t done much vs lhp so thats where we’re at. I’d much rather have Lorenzen or Aquino in CF vs lhp.

  8. Rex

    Scott Heineman may be the first double switch of the night

    • MBS

      Can we pull off a 1st inning double switch Heineman and Castillo? We might have a shot if we do.

  9. B-town fan

    This pretty much seals the deal that Lorenzen won’t be a Red next year, being a free agent he is going to go where he will get a chance to start.

    And Antone is now in that purgatory of wanting to be a starter but having success as a reliever and being pigeon holed as a reliever, a catch 22 from his stand point.
    It’s bad from a Reds perspective but for him maybe he and his agent can go the route of Chris Sale when he was with the White Sox and demanded to be a starter or he wouldn’t come to camp, it worked out well for him.