When the Cincinnati Reds went through their last rebuild it wound up failing, miserably. A big part of the reason that happened is because much of that rebuild was completely reliant on the young starting pitching the team had in the minors stepping up and performing in the big leagues. Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Rookie Davis, Brandon Finnegan and crew simply never worked out as starters. Eventually the team would find success with Luis Castillo and later on Tyler Mahle as starters.
When the Reds went into the current rebuild they had two of the top pitching prospects in baseball with Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. With the season nearing it’s end, neither are prospects anymore, but they’ve established themselves as big league starters and they’ve been joined by Graham Ashcraft. The three rookies have had various levels of success.
Nick Lodolo has been on an outstanding run of starts. Since returning from the injured list he’s made 13 starts and posted a 3.47 ERA in 72.2 innings. In the second half of the season he’s been even better, posting a 2.95 ERA in 10 starts. On the year his ERA is now down to 3.81. Graham Ashcraft is scheduled to make a rehab start today in Louisville after missing the last month. Prior to going on the injured list he had made 16 starts with a 3.97 ERA in 93.0 innings pitched while being among the top ground ball rate starters in the game.
Hunter Greene’s ERA isn’t below 4.00 like the other two starters. After his last start he got it below 5.00, dropping it to 4.97 with 6.0 shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. The youngest and least experienced of the trio, Greene’s battled more inconsistency than the other two have. At times he’s been outright dominant – like when he didn’t give up any hits in 7.1 innings to the Pirates back in May, or when he allowed one baserunner against Arizona in June in 7.0 innings, or in his last two outings when he’s given up five combined hits in 12.0 innings with 19 strikeouts and no walks. But he’s also had some struggles, like when he allowed eight runs – including five home runs – to the Brewers in 2.2 innings on May 5th.
The home runs have been the biggest area where Greene has struggled. He’s given up 23 of them, and prior to going on the injured list at the start of August he had given up more home runs than any other pitcher in baseball. In his last five starts he’s given up just one home run in 29.1 innings.
Watching the Cincinnati Reds as the season winds down isn’t all that much fun. The every day lineup that’s being run out there is full of guys who aren’t likely to be starting players next season, with a few of them looking like quality utility guys. The bullpen has a few interesting guys, but it’s also got several players who every time out there are questions if this will be their last outing before they are designated for assignment. And the rotation has been cycling through waiver pick ups and relievers who may have once upon a time started. But when it’s a day that Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, or hopefully later this week Graham Ashcraft are going to take the mound for the Reds, the fans can at least watch a staple of the future that the organization is trying to sell them on.
Connor Overton working his way back
On Sunday afternoon Connor Overton made his second rehab start for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He would allow two runs (both came on solo home runs) in 5.0 innings while giving up four hits, walking a batter, and striking out five. He threw 78 pitches on the day.
Having thrown 78 pitches it would seem that he’s ready to return to the big leagues from a standpoint of workload. He’s pitched well in his two outs with the Bats, too, so unless he feels he needs another outing to work on something, don’t be surprised to see him back on the big league roster later this week.