The Cincinnati Reds have designated right-handed starting pitcher Luke Weaver for assignment. Weaver signed with the club on a 1-year deal prior to 2023 after having spent the 2022 season in the bullpen for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals. Cincinnati was going to put him back in the rotation where he had spent much of his big league career from 2016-2021.

To say that things didn’t work out would be generous. Weaver made 21 starts and threw 97.0 innings while posting a 6.87 ERA, allowing 125 hits – 24 of which were home runs – and he had 34 walks to go along with 85 strikeouts. He took the mound every 5th day, but he also struggled nearly every 5th day. He had two quality starts on the season and only threw 6.0 innings four times and only once recorded an out in the 7th inning. That also happened to be the only game in which he didn’t give up a run. After no start during the entire season was his ERA ever lower than 5.36. And only have his final two starts in May was his ERA after any start below 6.00.

Cincinnati seemed to stick with him in the rotation as their options were limited to Weaver, career minor leaguers and independent league signings, or prospects who were really struggling in the minor leagues for the most part. Injuries in the rotation played a big role in that as both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo have spent more than the last two months injured, eating away at some of the depth the club did have in the rotation.

That, though, may be why now is the time that Luke Weaver has been designated for assignment. Last night Hunter Greene completed what was expected to be his final rehab start in Triple-A. He struck out nine batters and gave up one hit in 5.2 innings pitched and is expected to join the rotation later this week. That meant that someone was going to be bumped and it makes all of the sense in the world that it’s Weaver.

His designation for assignment opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. That likely will not be filled until the team activates Hunter Greene later this week. The 26-man roster spot vacated by Weaver’s removal is being filled for now by Alan Busenitz, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville where he has a 2.48 ERA in 40.0 innings on the season. He also has a 4.50 ERA in 4.0 innings with the Reds from earlier this season.

56 Responses

  1. J

    If only they paid more attention to the blog comments, they would have realized a couple months ago that this was the obvious move. Better late than never, I guess, but this might be too late.

      • Oldtimer

        His, not Hi. I wish there were an edit feature.

    • greenmtred

      Greene wasn’t ready to rejoin them a couple of months ago.

    • MBS

      Richardson maybe? It would turn into a bullpen day, but Lodolo seems to be a couple of starts away from rejoining the Reds.

      • BK

        Unless some goes on the IL, Richardson will not have spent the requisite 15 days in the minors until early next week.

      • MBS

        @BK. Good point, although an IL at this point in the season doesn’t seem to be a hard thing to find. We have a lot of nicked up tired players.

    • Redsvol

      Best guess. Kennedy +bullpen. Probably bring up 1 more bullpen arm for saturday if they aren’t at 40 yet.

  2. Rut

    Weaver performed at the expectations of the vast majority of posters here and other Reds sites….

    Generally, I try to give the front office and management the benefit of the doubt on personnel moves — they are the ones with access to vastly more detailed information and interpersonal interactions with any given player.

    But here, sheesh, it really was true that the masses had it right and the Reds FO was about as clueless as it gets.

    Or, to paraphrase Denny Green, ‘he was who we thought he was!!’, but the Reds crowned Weaver anyway

    • IndyDoug

      One of the best sports rants of all time, but not better than Iverson’s We talkin’ ’bout Practice

    • Tom Planchet

      They didn’t really have many better options. You could have brought up Connor Phillips and hoped he pulled an Andrew Abbott but you could have ruined him. They could have traded before the deadline.

      Once Lodolo comes back, the rotation will be three second-year guys in he, Greene and Ashcraft and two rookies in Abbott and Williamson. Phillips will probably go to camp with them next year and give them some depth if any of those five get injured.

      Yes, more arms may have helped, but the ugly truth is that after the All-Star game, this team hasn’t hit anywhere NEAR what they were doing before. If they had, they’d be right there with Milwaukee and in a very good spot relative to wild card.

    • mac624

      Someone had to fill innings. Remember, starting this season, even Reds ownership didn’t think they had a chance. The team has played way over its head this year, which is good, but Weaver was signed to do just what he did. Eat innings until the younger guys were ready, which was thought to be late 2023. Personally, don’t think he would have struck around had Greene and Lodolo not gotten hurt, but that’s how it played out.

      I always chuckle when keyboard bloggers think they know more than seasoned vets who do this for a living. If keyboard bloggers were so good at talent evaluations, they wouldn’t be blogging on a random site. Instead, they’d be in front offices working for a living. Sure, blind squirrels find nuts too, but I think it’s safe to say Krall and company know WAY MORE about pitching talent than anyone on this board.

  3. Mark Moore

    Long time coming. Wish Luke well. But he was never part of “the future” and just held a spot for some innings … too many innings.

  4. Melvin

    “That meant that someone was going to be bumped and it makes all of the sense in the world that it’s Weaver.”

    Getting rid of our “good luck charm”? Come on. hahaha That’s going to make a lot of people around here very upset I’m sure. lol He’s the only pitcher we’ve been scoring runs consistently for. :)….Greene looked good last night.

  5. Steven Ross

    Long overdue. Couldn’t get out of the 1st inning without giving up runs. I said a month ago, if we have to rely on Weaver and Lively going into August, we’re asking a lot. Time to move on.

    • Oldtimer

      Reds won 12 of his 21 starts. How do Reds do with other SP?

  6. Chris

    Now what are we all going to agree on? He’s the one topic that we all could agree on, and that was that he was horrible and should not be on this team. I did see a laughable article on another blog/site suggesting a few weeks ago that when his spot gets filled in the rotation that he should be put in the pen. For some it takes more than overwhelming evidence to see the obvious I guesss.

  7. Chris

    So what does the starting rotation look like starting Friday?

    • BK

      I would think:

      Friday, Williamson
      Saturday, perhaps Kennedy
      Sunday, Greene

      • IndyDoug

        When is Lively due to come off IL?

      • BK

        I’m not sure, his first rehab start didn’t go well.

  8. Ted Alfred

    I’m literally stunned….it finally happened.

    • Doc

      Maybe because they finally have a quality replacement coming back who could replace him. Heaven knows they tried a bunch of people, Richardson and Kennedy among the latest, but met with minimal success there also. And the FO has to keep a cascade of roster decisions in mind, something all those patting themselves on the back are not obliged to do.

      On the bright side, we got a look at a number of pitchers who might still be in AAA and have seen some very exciting results.

      I don’t understand the Louisville shuttle of BP pitchers though. Guys are one and done, and some of those haven’t pitched all that badly. How is someone supposed to find a groove and learn to adjust if they walk off the MlB mound and straight into the bus. Look at Busenitz. He has pitched to a 2.48 ERA in AAA, but got all of 4 innings in MLB, and his 4.50 ERA in those four innings was not off the charts bad for a first appearance or two.

      • Chris

        They really did not try a replacement for Weaver the whole time. Kennedy did get one start, and frankly it was a very good start. The overall line didn’t look so great because Bell yanked him at the 1st bit of trouble, and the reliever let all the inherited runners score. Richardson did pitch once also, and he wasn’t so good, but it was his first MLB appearance for a guy who started in single A this season. I’m quite confident his future starts would have been better than Weaver’s, but he was never given one.

      • greenmtred

        They probably don’t evaluate pitchers or make decisions about them based on one or two starts. Even guys coming up from AAA have a body of work with which the Reds are familiar. There’s also the player development consideration and how moving a guy into the rotation prematurely might affect that. Since supposition is the coin of this realm I’ll suggest that the Reds this year are viewing being in contention as a considerable surprise and are not willing to throw player development aside or trade valuable prospects to prolong it, since their goal is to be able to compete in the WS and be competitive on a sustainable basis and the team this year, though surprisingly good, is not ready to do more than make a quick exit if they do get into the playoffs. There’s a reason that teams with loads of rookies in the lineup rarely, if ever, win the WS.

  9. JB

    I wish Luke well and hope he can turn things around. Things didn’t work out well here for him and maybe things could have been different if they just used an opener for him. Bell unfortunately was either to stubborn or couldn’t see it staring him in the face. Either way he is 30 and had no future here. He seems like a likeable guy and you hate to see anybody fail.

    • BK

      One thing our bullpen has lacked this year is a “long reliever” who would work well as an opener. That said, its quite a stretch to assume Weaver would have produced differently following an opener.

    • greenmtred

      In Weaver’s more recent games, he wasn’t giving up huge numbers of runs in the first; it seemed to be more that he’d lose the plot in the third or fourth. He was, essentially, an opener.

  10. Roger Garrett

    Man these tough ones always take a lot of time.Glad they thought about and did make a hasty decision.

    • Moon

      I feel badly for Luke. But he was given a shot. An extended one at that and he just did not produce and the sorting continues. The Reds are looking for a back end starter and Luke was just beaten out by Williamson and Lively who both have been much better. My guess is right now LIvely will begin next year as that long reliever and depth starter in case of injury. That is if he performs down the stretch.

      • JB

        Lively, I believe, is only on a one year contract. Will not be in the rotation next year and did pretty good this besides a couple of starts. Sone team like the royals will give him a starting gig.

  11. Eddiek957

    Weaver filled a need and as long as we were winning and really no better alternative it was amusing. The time has come off days Hunter coming back Be nice to see some offense.

  12. LDS

    Any decision worth making can be made too late. This is one of them.

  13. Doc

    MLBTR says that if the Reds make the playoffs it will be because of their offense, not their pitching. I disagree. With Greene and Lodolo coming back to join Ashcraft, Abbott and Williamson, I lean toward believing that the playoffs are going to rest on how well these five pitch the rest of the season.

    • Melvin

      What the Reds don’t know how to do well is score runs in pressurized tight situations. Until they learn how to do that the playoffs likely won’t matter even if we get in.

      • JB WV

        Spot on. When they were relaxed and out of the national spotlight they were locked in.

  14. RedsGettingBetter

    Well, it seems that the good things are long overdue….The end comes to a nightmare…
    I really thought Weaver last outing this year went to be on Saturday but…
    I understood Richardson should have called up only after 15 days after he was optioned…Am I wrong?
    All indicates a bullpen day on Saturday with Kennedy eating many frames

  15. Redgoggles

    Bold move to jumpstart the offense.

  16. J

    I’m convinced Weaver is going to be the answer to various trivia questions:

    a) Which pitcher had the fewest losses with at least 20 games started and an ERA of at least 6.80?

    b) Which pitcher with at least 20 starts had the highest ERA for a team with a winning record when he was DFA’d?

    c) Of all pitchers DFA’d in the 2020s, which was the longest overdue?

  17. DataDumpster

    I guess the alternatives were few but keeping Weaver around this long makes about as much sense as the Chad Pinder saga in SP. Wasn’t Newman good enough? Anyway, it is true that the Red’s won 12 of the 21 games that Weaver started including 8 in a row! Looks like he was the lucky charm for someone who has the patience to be eventually proven right no matter the logic. That “Louisville shuffle” makes about as much sense as Weaver hanging around this long.

  18. Rick

    Luke had good enough stuff, but he appeared to have a nervous tick about him, anxiety possibly. You could see him start to unravel even after pitching well on a few ocassions it’s like he expected the sky to fall in & if it didn’t, he would create his own issues. He would start nibbling and walk a guy or two, then give up a single, or a blast and help the sky to fall.
    Robert Stephenson was the same way only more animated.
    The starter version of Dontrelle Willis after the league solved him had a dose of that.

  19. Erik the Red

    Mike Minor 2022 or Luke Weaver 2023 as the worst season for a starting pitcher in Reds history?

  20. Rob

    “Oh, Luke Weaver,
    The Reds believed you might get them to the ninth.
    Oh, Luke Weaver,
    I believe they have finally seen the light.”

  21. Soto

    It really is pretty amazing how slow to react the front office of the Reds has been this year. Although the team has outperformed expectations, this team has reacted incredibly slowly to many obvious moves. In the end, I believe the failure to abandon the 3 catcher fiasco, continuing to start Weaver and cause extra strain on the Bullpen, the slow roll of CES and to a lesser extent McClain and EDLC, probably cost this team at least 5 or 6 games. I can’t imagine that this team will miss the playoffs by more than that. Although Krall should be commended for the talent that he has acquired, I have a hard time giving him too much credit for the job he has done with this team. I feel that they might have missed a golden opportunity this year.

    • Redsvol

      I’m not real sure what more the front office could have done on the pitching side with the budget they were given and the injuries we’ve incurred. The fundamental problem was we started the year with too little starting pitching depth. You need 10-12 starters in a normal season. We started with 9. And those 9 were really too inexperienced to count on covering 950-1000 innings in the 1st place.

      Lack of SP depth, mis-allocation of the precious budget resources to a washed up right field (Myers) and inexperience of the 9 healthy starters was bound to cause problems. They didn’t figure they would be in a playoff race so it would be ok to throw some young guys like Williamson & Stout out there and hope for the best.

      We needed a lot of luck (Overton, Dunn), SP health, and maybe some trades to avoid 20 Weaver starts – it was too much to expect. Krall has done a tremendous job with what he was given to work with. Keep the faith. The team will be better in a couple months.

    • greenmtred

      You have noted, I trust, that EDLC and CES have struggled considerably. I wouldn’t send either of them down–it’s hard to imagine what more they can learn at AAA–but they are not yet consistent enough to lead us to the promised land. Is there any real reason to believe that they would have adjusted to MLB better had they been called up earlier?

  22. David

    The puzzle is who will start Friday. Williamson is scheduled for Saturday, and Greene for Sunday. Greene will be activated, and likely Busenitz will go back to AAA.
    And with Lodolo perhaps returning next, Busenitz may be in the fire for coming off the 40 man and being DFA’d.
    And from the looks of it, no reinforcements coming for the bullpen.
    Guitierrez has a sore elbow/forearm, and will likely be shut down for a while.
    And I hope they are not pushing TJ Antone now. I know he is eager to come back, too. Maybe September after the rosters expand.
    Likely Brett Kennedy figures to pitch a lot of the innings on Friday. Maybe they will have a “starter” like Cruz or Buck Farmer pitch the first inning, then let Kennedy go 3-4-5 innings, then the bullpen.

  23. jmb

    It had to happen sooner or later. As there are several guys coming back from injuries, there will be more of such moves–people getting DFA’d to get them off the 40-man roster.