The Cincinnati Reds have placed right-handed reliever Lucas Sims on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to yesterday with a sprained right elbow. The team has called up outfielder Scott Heineman to replace him on the roster for the time being.
Let’s talk about what this means for the Reds and for Lucas Sims. If we are assuming that the correct words were used here, and there’s no reason to believe otherwise, then Lucas Sims has a tear in his right elbow. A sprain is a tear as Will Carroll always says. Having something torn in your pitching elbow is not great. Usually that leads to Tommy John surgery, but not always. The Cincinnati Reds have had some mixed success on avoiding surgery with torn UCL’s in the last couple of years. Michael Lorenzen and Anthony DeSclafani both went the PRP and rehab route and avoided surgery a few years ago. Prospect Hunter Greene tried the same route, but eventually re-injured his elbow and underwent surgery back in 2019. Some tears are small enough that rest is enough to get back on the mound.
Update: 4:30pm ET
Prior the game today manager David Bell said that he didn’t have an exact timeline for the return of Lucas Sims, but it sounds like it’s more of a matter of weeks than months, or even a year (in a situation where he would have needed Tommy John surgery).
“When I got the report, I was very relieved,” said Bell. “We’ll miss him, but in the big picture it could have been a lot worse. I think we know what we’re dealing with and it’s just going to take some time to rest it. I haven’t heard an exact time frame. Talking to Nick (Krall) a little bit we were kind of planning on 3-4 weeks – something like that – I think we’ll know more as we go. That’s how I’m going to be thinking about it.”
Back to the original article
What we do know is that he’s going to miss some time and for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen that is a big deal. In a bullpen that’s been a proverbial disaster this season, Lucas Sims and his 5.02 ERA has probably been the second best reliever on the team behind Tejay Antone. While pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Michael Lorenzen are on their way back, with Hoffman being a bit closer than Lorenzen, the team needs as much help as they can get.
Within the last week General Manager Nick Krall and CEO Bob Castellini both spoke about the bullpen. Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer “if we have an opportunity to improve the bullpen, we will.” Nick Krall told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon “we’re trying to get healthy first” when speaking of seeing exactly what the team could do for the bullpen.
Waiting around for health isn’t going to cut it. The Reds aren’t now, and weren’t then a Jeff Hoffman to the bullpen away from fixing things. Michael Lorenzen is still several weeks away from returning and that’s assuming that he stays healthy between now and then.
The National League Central isn’t good. The Brewers are probably the best team on paper and they aren’t exactly world beaters. Whoever goes for it can probably win the division. It’s tough to look at how the last nine months have gone and say that the Cincinnati Reds are going for it. Given how bad the bullpen has been – they have a 6.66 ERA if you remove the 32.2 innings thrown by Tejay Antone this year – the idea that “if we have the opportunity to improve the bullpen, we will” is insane. It would be almost impossible to not improve the bullpen given how it’s performed.
Updated at 3:12pm
Sonny Gray has been scratched from his rehab start tonight in Louisville with “back issues”. He is now expected to start on Saturday for Louisville.
It’s possible some of the answers can be from internal moves. With Sonny Gray likely returning to the rotation soon, making a rehab start this weekend and if it goes well the plan is to have him pitch the next time around for the Reds), maybe Tony Santillan slides into the bullpen to help out. And Jeff Hoffman returning could help the bullpen, too, given his success the first time through the lineup this season. But those shouldn’t be the only options, nor should they be the (only) answers to the problem, either.