On Wednesday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds announced their rotation to begin the season, saying that Tyler Mahle, Reiver Sanmartin, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Hunter Greene would start the first five games of the year – with Mahle getting the 5th start after an off day following Greene. That still left a spot open in the rotation that would be needed on April 13th. The Reds only have five healthy starters in spring training right now and that fifth guy is Nick Lodolo.

That leaves us asking the question: Why wasn’t Lodolo also announced as being in the rotation? There are more than a few potential answers here. Let’s look at some of them.

Hope

Manager David Bell has said that the timeline for a return for Luis Castillo and Mike Minor could be “mid-April”. Is April 13th considered mid-April? Possibly. But there’s a tiny snag here – while players can be retroactively placed on the injured list, for pitchers this year that number is 15 days on the injured list and no longer 10. Had it still been 10 days, the Reds may have been able to make this happen. But with a player needing to spend 15 days on the injured list the timing simply doesn’t work and the team would have to keep one of them on the active roster while also hoping they would be able to make the start. The gamble there would be huge, particularly with teams knowing that every starter on the staff isn’t built up like they normally would be and will need to utilize every spot on the bullpen to help fill some of those “missing” innings.

Update

Less than two hours after this was published Major League Baseball announced new rule additions and one of them was that for April the injured list time for pitchers would be 10 days. That could make a difference in this scenario where the team could be hoping for the fastest recovery timeline.

Figuring out the roster

Nick Lodolo is not on the 40-man roster. Currently the 40-man roster is full. Even if Lodolo does make the opening day roster, the team is going to likely need to add several other players to the 40-man roster for opening day, which is going to mean figuring out who to try and trade, place on waivers, place on the 60-day injured list, etc. to open up the required number of spots.

This one doesn’t quite feel like it’s the answer. But maybe…..

Delaying the roster move

As noted above, Nick Lodolo is not on the 40-man roster. By committing to him now you would have to add him to the 40-man roster for opening day. If you wait, even if it’s just a week to make the move to add him to the roster, that gives you a little more time to figure out the roster dynamics and maybe buy a little extra time to make other moves to clear a spot up.

Browsing the waiver wire

If the Reds have some belief that at least one of Luis Castillo or Mike Minor will be ready by mid-April, that means that someone in the current rotation, and maybe two of them, will be out of the rotation when those two return. Is it possible that the Reds don’t want to make a 40-man move to add Nick Lodolo, use an option on him for one or maybe two starts if they don’t have to, if someone hits the waiver wire at the end of the spring that they could get a look at and potentially cut loose in mid-to-late April if needed?

40 Responses

  1. Jeffrey Oakley

    Or…maybe they are trying to delay his coming up to the big club so they can get that extra year of control. By not bringing him up for the first month I think they add another year. Remember the Cubs did that to Chris Bryant back in the day. It is Bob the penny pincher so…

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds didn’t do it to Jonathan India. They aren’t doing it to Hunter Greene. They probably aren’t going to do it for Nick Lodolo, either.

      • Tom Reeves

        {It worked out great with Senzel}

        It looks like Lodolo is ready but I’m not Derek Johnson.

  2. Stock

    Prior to the new collective bargaining agreement you could retroactively add a player to the DL. That means they could place Castillo on the DL as of the last time he pitched in ST. This would allow him to pitch on April 13.

    Maybe Tony Santillan is injured and I don’t realize it but he is a solid option for the 5th start. In fact I would prefer him in the 5th spot to see if there is a chance he can start in the majors.

    I don’t think they are concerned about using an option on Lodolo. I have little doubt he will be in the majors on a permanent basis prior to 2025.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes and no. The retroactive DL can only go back 3 days.

      Santillan was told he’s a reliever to begin the year.

      • Hunt4RedsOct

        Pitchers dl now only 10 days til May 1. Maybe Castillo will be available

  3. Armo21

    Doug,

    What GM would announce that Lodolo is your starter on April 13th on March 30th when he is not on the 40man roster? I think this is good FO move. I don’t understand your comment; “This one doesn’t quite feel like it’s the answer. But maybe…..”.

    Its all the reasons you mention in the write up. This is not rocket science, you present all the logic in your article, but you frame it like your not sure which single reason the Reds are not making the announcement of the opening day roster. There isn’t just one reason. And no I don’t think it is service time manipulation. Lodolo by most accounts is ready to pitch in MLB and on March 13th he will probably be added to the 40 man.

  4. David

    Nick Lodolo did have some shoulder issues at the end of last year’s minor league season.
    I wonder if the thinking is he did not pitch enough innings in 2021 to have good arm and shoulder strength in 2022. He might need time pitching at AAA to build up should and arm strength, where innings are more important than overall performance. There is no need to rush him early in his career and possibly injure him.

    • Doug Gray

      I can promise you that is not at all the line of thinking. If they were concerned about his arm he wouldn’t be pitching anywhere.

      • David

        Doug
        I don’t think there is anything wrong with Nick Lodolo at this point, I just wonder if Reds’ Management don’t think he had enough innings last year to be put into the ML Starting rotation.
        I don’t question his arm health or ability, just wondering if he needs more Minor League innings to build up his arm strength (as a starter) prior to being put into the Reds’ rotation.

        It is probably the expectation that one of either Mark Minor or Luis Castillo will be ready when they actually need a 5th man in the rotation. If not, then Nick could be put onto the 40 man (which may happen by the end of Spring training, if someone gets waived, or gets put on the 60 -day IL).
        I would guess that final roster moves will wait until just about the end of Spring training (pending trades or whatever) and that Nick will be put on the 40 – man then. He still might start the year at AAA, but will be just a phone call away from the Reds.

      • Doug Gray

        They aren’t worried about his innings right now. He threw 100+ innings in college. He threw plenty of innings in 2020 between spring training and at the alternate site. He’s fine.

      • Luke J

        David, that isn’t how it works. What is it that makes you think pitching in the minors does to “build up his arm strength” that pitching in the majors would? Innings are innings. And each pitcher gets a limited number of them each year. So using them in the minors does nothing but use them up, not somehow magically make him able to throw more.

      • CallowayPost

        I also would think last season, with the low amount of innings pitched, for all pitchers, was from the concern of the short 2020 Covid…but more importantly with MLB instituting the pitch grip rules.

        A part of me thinks that may have been Nick’s issue with blisters…then leading to overthrowing…that hurt his shoulder.

        I’m not saying he was using sticky tack, but I have to believe he at least had some tar on his fingers, for the saliva and sweat, as a breaking ball pitcher.

        The mid season change obviously found a lot of pitchers at the beginning of more wild pitches…and I certainly think it might’ve affected Nick, making the “spit only” adjustment like every other pitcher.

        I agree, his health is fine for a higher innings load. No part of me looks at his delivery and sees max effort. Should be a boon to his longevity…maybe similar to Arroyo’s ability to pitch deep into games, and the season.

  5. Allan Chandler

    Because the Reds have always managed the 40-Man roster and IL so well… Chances of a screw up here are high.

  6. Maloney63

    The Reds will need several long relievers the first couple weeks of the season as starters will be lucky to go 5 innings, so Lodolo could certainly be used in that capacity.

    • Chris

      They are lucky to go 5 innings under Bell during any part of the season.

      • greenmtred

        In 2021, in all of MLB, the average innings per start was 5.02. It’s always fun to bash Bell, though. Isn’t it?

      • TR

        This has been a Reds bashing spring, why not include Bell.

  7. Optimist

    Somewhat of a non-issue – they’ll be juggling 40 man spots the next few days, and I won’t be surprised if they pick up an innings eating starter – they have too much inexperience in the rotation already, so expect Hoffman, Minor and TBA to eat innings the first month of so.

    There may be a service time issue, but that’s somewhat in the future I wonder if the next CBA further degrades that so it won’t affect Lodolo – both owners and MLBPA seem to lean that way.

  8. redsfan4040

    Doug – can you confirm that Zack Godley isn’t actually on the 40 man roster? I’m certain he was a minor league signee during the lockout. But, he’s on the Reds website 40 man, but I can’t find anywhere that he had his contract selected. He’s also listed on baseball reference as Cincinnati Reds (majors).

    • Doug Gray

      The rosters on all mlb-related websites have been an absolute crapshow since the lockout began. Godley is not listed on the 40-man roster on the roster sent out by the media relations department and that was last updated yesterday.

  9. DataDumpster

    I was expecting (and hoping) that a small trade or even a buyout is in the offing (Aquino, Shogo, TBD) that might free up the space. It also seems it would be prudent to hold Nick back for a bit to see what else develops. You have Santillan for multiple innings and a few new pitchers to try out as well. Maybe David Bell watched the WS last year and see that there is a way to pitch a bullpen game or two when needed. If they can’t survive 2 or 3 rotations with “only” 4 SP (and 10 other RP), then I have nothing more to say about that.

  10. Michael B. Green

    In some instances, I think teams are short-sided on the call-up issue. Yes, you can manipulate the system and save a year of control. But what percentage of the players that are are worried about ending up signing extension before there arbitrations and free agency years anyway? Most teams end up signing their Wander Francos well before you have to worry about that. That makes call-up delays moot. Of course, CIN is typically hesitant to grant any of its players extensions – something that needs to change for the culture of the organization. Not one single player changing teams this year pointed to a commitment to winning. CIN brass should take that to heart.

    If he’s healthy, Lodolo will force a call-up before his Nov/Dec required 40MR deadline. So once the league identifies the magic “safe” to call up players, Lodolo could serve as one of those guys. Ashcraft is in the same situation.

    Going into 2023, here is the look of a potential fantastic rotation:

    1 Mahle (free agent at 2023 year-end)
    2 Castillo (free agent at 2023 year-end)
    3 Greene
    4 Lodolo
    5 Ashcraft

    Dunn is a bullpen guy. That will save from injuries. He could split time this year when he gets back.

    Gutierrez is interesting. He is now at the point, where he will need to transition from a #5 to a #3 in 2022. That could allow him to slot in #2 in 2023 if Mahle or Castillo depart.

    Sanmartin will probably evolve into a reliever but he looked really good late last year. I’m not sure he can hold back Greene, Lodolo or Ashcraft though. Never know though.

    I’m assuming that Santillan sticks in the pen but he also would need more work as a SP to see where he could slot in 2023.

    O’Brien is probably your spot starter/long inning guy if he makes it. Hoping for health for him.

    I think Minor has a $1M buyout on the team option for 2023 (that KC payed for), so I’m guessing that he is not back for 2023.

    If CIN is committed to winning, I think they should hold Mahle and Castillo and think of trading them only if they are out of contention in late July 2023. Yes, you get less, but you can’t always be rebuilding.

    You compete with pitching. We have it. With hitting and a favorable ballpark for such, we should compete for a Wild Card spot. We could be Buyers at the Deadline.

    If not, “Sell the Team, Bob.”

    • SteveO

      Don’t forget Lodolo’s best friend, Williamson. He will probably be in the mix as well. Would like to see the Reds get maximum trade value for Castillo and Mahle at the 2022 trade deadline, and if not, prior to the start of 2023. The cheap ownership will definitely not want to pay the increased salaries that they will command.

    • MBS

      I like it, I’m a bit more bullish on Sanmartin, I think he’s shown very well through the system. I’d love the Reds to extend Castillo to, but I’m ok trading Mahle in the offseason. With Castillo, Greene, Lodolo, Williamson that leaves the 5th spot for Sanmartin/Gutierrez/Ashcraft to fight for in 23 + random guy I’m not thinking of Antone, Bailey, Solomon etc..

  11. LDS

    I’d say the 40 man is going to take some work. A lot of questionable off-season acquisitions taking up space and a few nonproductive players from last year. Not to mention injured players like Sims, Dunn, Castillo, Minor.

  12. MK

    Interesting signing today. 26-year-old catcher Joe DeLuca who has never played affiliated baseball. Wonder if this means the loser of the Knapp-Garcia backup catcher battle is going to opt out and this is for a minor league roster. He did play in independent ball previously.

    • Optimist

      Looks like he caught Mat Latos last year – odd coincidence.

  13. Armo21

    Bobby Nightengale @nightengalejr

    MLB announced rule changes for the 2022 season:

    -28-man rosters through May 1.
    Maximum of 13 pitchers on 26-man roster afterward.

    -10-day IL for pitchers until May 2.

    -Players can be optioned a max. of 5 times,
    but any options before May 2 don’t count toward that number

    Changes needing to add Lodolo to the 40 man because Luis C is on IL on April 13th

  14. Jeffery

    Because they just might know what they are doing. I like the team. Reminds me of 1989 going into 1990

    • TR

      It’s time for a repeat. It could be similar to last season for the Bengals.

  15. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I’m not too worried about this. I did think both him and Hunter needed to start at AAA. I thought we very well could see possibly both of them up there later this year. But, I thought both of them needed to start at AAA.

    I just hope this isn’t something like with Homer. Where, if I remember right, just like now, the fans were buzzing with negativity. So, the ownership brought up the next “Golden Boy” Homer Bailey. And, he simply wasn’t the Golden Boy we all thought he would be.

  16. RedsGettingBetter

    I don’t know if I am wrong but for me there is no need for Lodolo to start on April 13th. The four-man rotation should continue with four days of rest for each pitcher until April 16th. Now , considering the idea of Castillo’s return on mid April, I see it very likely he could be ready for that saturday in LA.
    Lodolo looks ready to have reached a spot even instead of Greene or Sanmartin but I think this is a choice of Technical Staff based on many factors not easy to see from our standpoint right now…

  17. Bobo

    Luis Castillo is the 5th starter. Period. Worst case (apparently) is that he misses one start. For whatever reason, Nick didn’t make the team. No way they promote him (and start his clock) for one day, one start. If there is no injury ( big if) they currently already expect Mike Minor to displace a starter in a month or so. If they need him, he’s there.

  18. Kevin Patrick

    I think I’ve speculated on this forum before about this… but I don’t think Johnny Cueto has signed anywhere yet. If he isn’t picked up soon, I bet the Reds do. He would probably do best to see which teams need him at the end of Spring before finally relenting and signing a deal with the Reds to finish off his career. Pujols in St. Louis and Cueto in Cincy…just like old times!

    • JayTheRed

      I’m for it I want Johnny Baseball back in Cincinnati

    • Votto4life

      There was a rumor the Reds were looking at him a couple of weeks ago, but that was just propaganda from the front office. It was when they were catching heat for the trades.

      • Votto4life

        Sorry I meant to say “it have been” a leak from the front office.