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’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.

72 Responses

  1. Jim Walker

    Is it too soon to wonder if Hunter Greene being throttled back to 85 pitches last night could be related to this situation? My first take was they might be switching to holding back pitches (innings) by him when he had accomplished what they wanted to see from him on a given night for future MLB use this season whatever role that might be in.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I truly hope that no matter what happens to the relief staff the remainder of the year, that Greene is not shifted from his current path of development as a starter. That is where the Reds will get the most value for him (through more innings). He’s not someone whose development path you mess around with, IMO.

      • Daytonnati

        Yes, we have seen this movie before with Aroldis.

      • Ghostrunner_onthird


        I respectfully disagree.

        Just win. Just win now. Win with the best available talent that you possess. Apply that talent where you need it knowing that conservative doses of that talent application should be judiciously applied to support your product today and proverbially tomorrow so refined talent development is indeed in concert with your enterprise (today’s objectives are often in direct alignment / related to your future objectives). The perfect solution rarely presents itself (e.g., “let’s get healthy first). Call me a dreamer but this division is there for the taking . . . embolden the talent and let’s go take it. How many times as a fan base have we lamented that “management” fails to address a shortfall and take advantage of an opportunity in the very same stroke. I don’t know if HG is the second coming of a Bob Gibson type, though I clearly understand that we don’t want to re-visit the mistakes made with Chapman. Perhaps my HG assessment is off the mark but I believe HG has the skill set to succeed regardless of today’s starting vs. BP problem set. Granted I don’t own the team; but, if I did – I would worry about next season come March 2022.

      • Jim Walker

        @Ghostrunner> I tend to see the situation more from your viewpoint.

        Give Greene another 4-5 starts of 80-90 pitches, not over 5 innings, at AA which should take him to roughly the week after the MLB AS break. Then if Greene looks ready and the four incumbents Gray, Miley, Castillo and Mahle are healthy, use Greene as an extended opener paired with either Gutierrez or Santillan behind him.

        This arrangement gets Greene the same workload as he had last night and should get the team 5 innings. The second guy works about the same and hands the game over in the 8th or 9th.

        With luck, the second guy might also be available out of the pen between games where he is matched with Greene. The arrangement also frees whoever is not matched with Greene from between Santillan/ Gutierrez to work full time from the pen.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Gentlemen: I understand your viewpoints. I worry about any abnormal strain on an arm that is in its first season back from Tommy John. But I also reiterate that this guy cannot be a bullpenner unless it is proven that his stuff won’t play as a starter.

        I’m okay with anyone else in the system being moved to the bullpen now except Greene.

      • JayTheRed

        Tom your correct Greene needs to stay a starter no matter what happens on the major league team. Lodolo too. It will be a huge mistake if the Reds decide to put him as a reliever. Like someone else said we have been down this path too often. Chapman and Iglesias too.

        Put Hoffman in the bullpen and go out and get someone decent. There has to be someone out there under around a 3.50 ERA to 4.50 ERA. Which sadly would actually be better than we have.

        I do want to say I am encouraged by Garrett’s recent outings. I will be quite upset if we are within striking distance at the deadline and we hear the we are too poor to get help from outside the organization or the Oh ho hum.. we tried but couldn’t find the right matchup.

      • Jim Walker

        I said Greene starts the game and works 80-90 pitches, not to exceed 5 innings; but he would be doing this at MLB vs doing the same at AAA. As long as they keep the same total innings cap for him, how is this any different and more risky at MLB than him doing it at AAA.

      • Old-school

        Charlie Goldsmith at the Enquirer has a good article on Greene. It’s presumptuous to think Greene would pitches and cant just rely on a good fastball to get guys out. He’s got a slider and change up he’s working on but he’s not ready yet and neither is Lodolo. Lodolo hasn’t really pitched a lot in June.
        Greene referenced getting into a routine as a starter and he needs to keep doing that. Let them refine things at AAA and develop into who they need to be- the future of the Reds rotation. Patience is required and its not far-fetched to imagine both Greene and Lodolo in the Reds rotation in 2022. Letting them finish their development in 2021 and ready to start 2022 as MLB SP could be a way to make serious roster changes in the off-season with trades to get younger and deeper and and address deficiencies on offense, defense, Bullpen and team speed.

  2. Klugo

    I dont think a sprain is necessarily always a tear. Either way, maybe this will explain some of Sims’ struggles and hopefully we can get him back right without surgery. Hopefully.

    Heineman , though. Geez Louise.

    • Don

      A sprain is a tear (to varying degrees) of soft tissue such as ligaments or muscle.

      If it is a UCL injury (even a grade I sprain), he is probably going to miss more than 10 days. The encouraging sign is that the Reds didn’t just come right out and start uttering phrases like “Tommy John”, “shutting him down for the season”, etc. That might be a silver lining.

    • indyDoug

      well at least we have our CF now….LOL!

  3. RedsFan11

    Guys dont worry Sims isnt that good. He has a 5.06 ERA which is (check notes) 2nd best on this bullpen with 7 or more IP….. yikes….

    “they have a 6.66 ERA if you remove the 32.2 innings thrown by Tejay Antone this year”. > The devils # sounds about right

    “if we have an opportunity to improve the bullpen, we will.” Nick Krall told’s Mark Sheldon “we’re trying to get healthy first”. > How’s that working out for ya Nick?

    “those shouldn’t be the only options, nor should they be the (only) answers to the problem, either.” > couldn’t agree more Doug, but who here really has faith that they aren’t the ONLY options/answers?

    • MBS

      Sims being the 2nd best reliever isn’t a complement to Sims, but an indictment on how bad the Reds bullpen is. That being said, 2020 Sims was nails, and maybe he’s been dealing with an arm issue all season long. Hopefully he recovers completely, and is able to help in the future.

  4. jsleee

    And they call up Scott Heineman. WTH

    • Old Big Ed

      I knew that somebody was going to say that, and I knew I was going to laugh when they did.

    • Doug Gray

      The bullpen is fully rested. It makes sense to have an extra bench player for a day or two than an extra arm in the bullpen. They’ll add a reliever in a few days. It’ll be fine.

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    This is truly a shame. Nothing else to say. I hope he wasn’t trying to pitch through pain when the Twins rocked him Tuesday.

    • CI3J

      He most likely was. Something like this doesn’t just develop overnight.

  6. KG

    Who are our best relievers at AA and AAA? Obviously the Bats are having a dismal season, so maybe no one there is any better than what we’ve got. How about Nick Howard at Chattanooga (1.72 ERA, 5 saves)? If we’re not going to make a few deals, we still need to make a few changes….quickly.

    • Old Big Ed

      Jose DeLeon looked okay to me last night.

      They are using him oddly in AAA now, for some reason. In June, he has only walked one guy in 4 2/3 innings, and none in his last 4 innings. The one BB is great, but his having pitched only 5 times in June is hard to understand.

      He’s always had a live arm, but hasn’t been able to harness it. But he could be Mariano Rivera, and the Reds would apparently still rather have Scott Heineman.

      • redsfan4040

        I wonder if he didn’t have some kind of lingering minor injury. Pitched 4 times the 1st 2 weeks after demotion, then 2 times in 3 1/2 weeks, then 3 times in the last week. Maybe whatever was bothering him has healed.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        To me, the DeLeon experiment is over. He’s been given several opportunities over the past couple of seasons to get the job done in the big leagues, and he just hasn’t. Maybe he’ll one day figure things out, but IMO, it’s not worth the Reds’ time to keep giving him opportunities.

      • beelicker

        Could be doing a lot of refinement and pitch development in the bullpen between live deployments

      • Indy Red Man

        DeLeon is Mariano Rivera like I am Leonardo DiCaprio

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    Now is the turn of Sims to go to IL… Hopefully it will take a pair of weeks but knowing the Reds BP chaos, it would be a long time… I wonder why Heineman is called back, man… He is 2-for-26 with a lot of strikeouts, please God… I would rather to call up R J Alaniz …

    • Jimbo44CN

      Or Garcia, or Lodolo(if he’s not still nursing a blister) I would rather see C. Perez than Heineman, as I think he has potential if he can keep from walking guys. Oh well.

    • MBS

      Why would you bring up someone like Lopez, who just keeps hitting the ball, it extends innings, and baseball games are long enough already. Heineman is a nice quick out, plus he can cover 1B.

      • Old Big Ed

        Exactly. They can’t sell beer after about the 7th inning, anyway, so they are incentivized to end the games quickly, to cut down on stadium labor costs. Heineman fits the bill perfectly for that.

        They would have to make a 40-man move to call up Lopez, but (duh) maybe just DFA Heineman?? Or Doolittle?

        I am not sure where Lopez would play, though. India isn’t likely moving from 2B. Lopez has played some 3B in the minors, so he could in theory play there, but that isn’t the Reds’ style, barring a Suarez injury. And even if Suarez did get injured, they have Moustakas and Senzel returning after the all-star break, at least until Senzel re-injures himself.

      • LDS

        Move India to 3rd, Lopez at 2nd, platoon Farmer and Suarez by a flip of the coin. And trade Suarez for a SS if the Reds can find anyone dumb enough to take the deal. I’m still thinking the Rockies may be that dumb.

      • MBS

        @LDS I was thinking of the same thing, India to 3B, Lopez to 2B, Suarez as 3B, and Farmer to the Bench as a spot starter, and late inning defensive replacement at SS. To be completely candid, I’d rather have Rodriguez as that player, than Farmer. We can worry about Moustakes and Senzel’s place when they return. If they miss 20 more games, that’s a lot of games, the Reds shouldn’t be sitting idle. Winning teams make every series, every game, every at bat, and every pitch count.

      • MBS

        Suarez SS, I wish we could edit comments 🙁

      • LGR

        Could just try Alejo at short. Or like you said Suarez to short. Not like this team is winning off defense anyway. This team needs to win by scoring more runs than the bullpen can give up.

  8. Tim

    2 MVP possibilities, 2 ROY possibilities. Add in Naquin’s surprise season and other pieces like Mahle, Miley, Gray and Antone. Knowing that the Reds have this bounty of talent in a weak division makes it a crime against the fans if ownership doesn’t address the bullpen now.

    • Old Big Ed

      The Reds will “address the bullpen.” Unfortunately, they will “address the bullpen” in the same manner that Ralph Kramden “addressed the ball” in the Honeymooners: “Hello, bullpen!”

      • RojoB

        Minor point- it was Ed Norton that did that lol

  9. LDS

    Heineman again? Jeez, a monkey throwing darts at a Louisville roster list could have chosen better than this. It’s really hard to take the Reds seriously from field management up through ownership.

    • greenmtred

      On the other hand, a number of us were bitterly critical of Bell for not using Sims more . He evidently knew more about the situation than we did. Perhaps he and management know more about the other players than we do.

      • RojoB

        What do they know about Scott Heineman that makes him so favored?

  10. Scott C

    “It would be almost impossible to not improve the bullpen given how it’s performed.” Pretty much says it all. And I am with the others on why in the world do you bring up Heineman, even having him in AAA is a stretch. I guess he does hit a HR every 13 AB’s. And he gets a hit every 13 AB’s as well.

  11. Bred

    Other pitchers have stated that MLB banning doctoring the ball was going to cause a lot of injuries this season. That makes sense as pitchers have to alter grips, release points, and what ever else to try to spin it. Do I think Sims doctored balls. Yeah, same with Antone and most every other MLB pitcher. Miley, no he has old school skills.

  12. LDS

    I saw DG’s article on Ashcraft this morning. Let’s hope he stays on track and some of that skill is transferrable to higher levels of competition.

  13. J

    This just makes me even more annoyed by all the people who insist on defending Bell’s dumb bullpen decisions based on a theory that Bell and Johnson have some sort of special insight and/or master plan for minimizing the chances of arm injuries. The Reds have played less than half a season and already their two most dependable relievers have been hurt despite Bell’s conservative approach. Meanwhile, many hard throwing relievers on other teams who’ve been used more frequently are perfectly healthy. I maintain there’s absolutely no scientific, medical, or statistical evidence supporting these “always play it safe” decisions, and they’re really just based on hunches and anecdotal examples of pitchers who threw a lot of pitches and got hurt. They seemingly ignore all instances of pitchers getting hurt (like Sims, Gray, Antone, Hoffman, etc.) for no apparent reason whatsoever. When a guy is able to pitch, LET HIM PITCH and just accept the fact that injuries sometimes happen.

    • greenmtred

      As opposed to the bullpen decisions that we would make? We, who wanted him to pitch Sims more often? You said yourself that pitching injuries happen.

  14. Melvin

    Not good news about Sims. At least he was semi reliable. Good news is we have another outfielder. Three RH and three LH. A David Bell dream. If Heineman is in the starting lineup tonight I think I might throw up. Maybe he’s a secret weapon and is going to pitch. 🙂

  15. Redgoggles

    Hope he doesn’t blame it on the new rules changing his grip…..

    • Tom Mitsoff

      That possibility crossed my mind. It happened to Glasnow in Tampa.

      • MBS

        I just read Glasnow’s complaint. It’s a pathetic rambling whine. STOP CHEATING, or don’t stop, but stop complaining about not being allowed to cheat. He says MLB started this up mid season. MLB said before the season, it would enforce this rule MLB has been inspecting baseballs all season long. They saw enough evidence of cheating. That warranted more drastic measures to stop cheating with sticky substances.

      • JayTheRed

        I have watched most of the games and now that I think about it the umpire was checking the ball a lot even early in the season it seemed.

        I am happy about the rule enforcement actually pitchers need to learn how to pitch not just throw hard.

  16. MBS

    Off topic a bit, but is there some sort of reason other than merit (readiness) that Barrero is not up in the MLB? Like service time, or something like that. I don’t understand how he’s not been moved up to AAA yet.

  17. Indy Red Man

    The NL Central isn’t very good. It wouldn’t take much effort from any front office to get a leg up. Willy Adames hit a 9th inning game winning HR the other night in Colorado. I’d said its pretty likely they’ll add another hitter as well.

    The Reds? They have so much offense and decent starting pitching. Its such a shame to see the pen sink their season. They have a decent farm system. The pieces are in place to pick up a couple of good arms. KC has a bunch of guys and they’re 10+ games out. Obviously they had salary dumps with Raisel and they weren’t keeping Bauer, but whats the point of keeping the #17th highest payroll when you let the team rot from inside out because of the pen?

    • JayTheRed

      Its funny you mentioned KC, I was thinking they had some decent relievers over there that sure would help this team out a lot. Arizona is another team they have to have a guy or two that are not that bad. Can Marte play SS. lol….

      There are several teams out of contention already that I can’t imagine would pass on trading a reliever to us. Instead of waiting til the deadline get on the phone and get someone competent over to Cincy.

    • Old-school

      I dont see any scenario where the Reds can improve the bullpen internally for a lefty. Garrett has potential to turn things around but Doolittle, Perez, etc have zero chance of running off a string of 5-6-7 strong appearances in high leverage situations or sustaining things the rest of the year.

      My first move move would be to acquire a good lefty bullpen arm to pair with Garrett to stabilize the bullpen from the lefty side. That needs to happen ASAP. It shouldn’t be that hard to identify a lefty rental on a bad team who wants to cut payroll. Or- make Krall do his job and acquire a younger lefty with team control and pay with prospect capital. Doug would know this better but the minors has seen some development the last 2 months that would interest other teams.

      Gregory Soto for the Tigers was nasty against the Reds last year throwing upper 90’s and is better this year. Paul Fry has been solid for the Orioles. There’s numerous others out there.

      • LGR

        Big fan of Paul Fry and John King from the Rangers. Yimi Garcia would be a good righty pickup. There’s a few others on the Pirates as well that wouldn’t be bad.

      • Doc

        With what guarantee said lefty can do the job?

      • Doc

        As soon as someone acquired from the Pirates had one bad outing, you people would be all over Bell and Krall like maggots on dead meat.

    • JayTheRed

      Your forgetting Heineman has two home runs at the MLB level. hahahaha…
      Wait forgot I think those are his only 2 hits this season.

      • beelicker

        Atlanta starts LHP Friday so Aquino, Heineman and Castellanos across the OF

  18. beelicker

    Sims was quoted today talking about having had elbow issues in the spring so it makes sense they’d be monitoring him very closely for that reason alone and Antone (who’s had Tommy John surgery) just returned IL from with forearm inflammation so heavy use would be something normally monitored very closely quite rightly prior to that … like part of the daily routine and would be neglectful not to be aware… I guess any lengths to go to have something to complain about Bell but yeah obviously quite specific anecdotal reasons for both

  19. Doc

    Once again it appears that DB knew what he was doing with Sims over the past week or so, unlike all the commenters blasting Bell for his use of Sims. Does it ever get old being flat out wrong?

  20. Doc4uk

    Dauri Moreta has been doing well in AA. Doug is he a potential bull pen arm for this season

  21. Chris Mo

    After the abbreviated season that was last year, the major concern is injury to pitchers who have to go from pitching 75 innings last year to 180 this year. Most minor leaguers didn’t play at all.
    Some MLB teams have had success in the past (St Louis, A’s) promoting starting pitchers from the minors and putting them in reliever roles the first year, then using them as starters the following year. The Reds have 8 or 9 “starters” when all are healthy. I believe the Reds should look at the stats, play to each pitchers strengths, and put the best pitchers in the organization on the MLB staff. If each one gets 100-130 innings this year, mix of starting and relieving, and the Reds are winning games, isn’t that the goal? Limit injury by limiting innings, spread out the workload, make the post-season, and be as healthy as possible. 3 effective starters when healthy come off the injury list, 3 ineffective relievers get sent down. Our postseason changes go way up in this scenario.