I started off wanting to write only about the rotation for today. But the Cincinnati Reds keep signing new pitchers and so now, I think it makes sense to talk about the depth of the pitching staff overall. I do want to start with the rotation, though.

I grew up during the transition to 5-man rotations. In that era, you usually thought of the guy who gave you 120-150 innings as a bottom of the rotation guy. To the shock of no one, that’s not really how it works any more.

It’s interesting to look at how many innings starting pitchers throw today. I went looking, and sorted the players based on innings pitched (not ERA or WAR, this is about quantity, not quality). I’ve been saying for a couple of years that MLB teams need 7-8 starters who can throw at the major league level. This is why. Below is a list of about how many innings the average team can expect from the pitcher on the staff who throws the most innings, the second most, and so on.

  • 190 innings
  • 160 innings
  • 134 innings
  • 108 innings
  • 82 innings
  • 56 innings
  • 43 innings
  • 27 innings

Total: 800 innings pitched

You will note that a typical team only has one or two players qualifying for the ERA title, with only four pitchers throwing even 100 innings. Depth matters.

Right now, I’d say the Reds have eight players capable of starting in the majors (I guess we could argue about Connor Phillips) and looking like they belong more often than not. We can debate the depth chart, but right now, I’d say it’s this:

  • Hunter Greene
  • Graham Ashcraft
  • Frankie Montas
  • Andrew Abbott
  • Nick Lodolo
  • Nick Martinez
  • Brandon Williamson
  • Connor Phillips

Now, does that mean those guys will lineup in the order of the list above in terms of innings pitched? No. They almost certainly won’t. None of us has a really good idea of who will get hurt or when. But someone will. Almost certainly multiple someones. That’s how pitching works.

The point, however, is that if Brandon Williamson is 7th on your depth chart, you’re in really good shape. Two guys can get hurt or be ineffective, and you have a 5th starter who had a 4.46 ERA in 2023.

In 2023, the average ERA for a starting pitcher was 4.45.

I wanted the Reds to sign a frontline guy, but I also understand what the thinking might have been. They have a fair bit of pitching coming through the system right now. They have really five pitchers (Greene, Ashcraft, Abbott, Lodolo, and Williamson) who could be very, very good starting now. Given those two things, why put all of your eggs in one metaphorical basket.

Shockingly (at least to me), FanGraphs Depth Charts projects the Reds to have the sixth best rotation in baseball (at least as of the time of publishing). Why? Depth. A lot of bad things have to happen before we get anywhere near what happened at the end of last season to Cincinnati’s rotation.

So what do I think happens?

I think, if everyone is healthy, then Nick Martinez starts in the bullpen while Brandon Williamson and Connor Phillips are down in AAA. But probably, someone will not be quite ready to start the season. I don’t know who. No one does. It’s just the odds. But the depth matters, and it’s likely to save the Reds this year.

Put another way, the ceiling on this group is in the stratosphere and the floor is sea level. In fact, we could be facing a situation like the one where Mike Leake confused Reds fans by making them think he was what a 4th or 5th starter looked like even though his numbers were that of an average 2-3 guy. Brandon Williamson could easily throw 150 innings with a league average ERA and be labeled the fifth starter for the entire season.

Now, what about the bullpen. The depth here is becoming really startling, I think. In essence, you have:

  • Closer – Alexis Diaz
  • Setup – Lucas Sims and Emilio Pagan
  • Middle Relief – Sam Moll, Buck Farmer, Brent Suter, Ian Gibaut, and Nick Martinez (assuming he doesn’t start in the rotation)

That’s a list of guys who are effectively guaranteed roster spots if everyone is healthy either because of how good they’ve been or because of their lack of options.

That leaves the following guys in the minors to start the season (in theory): Alex Young (he has an option, but I’m not sure what his current contract says about it), Fernando Cruz, Tejay Antone, Casey Legumina, Tony Santillan, and various other guys who will probably be starters in the minors, but could work out of the bullpen for the Reds should the need arise.

It is an incredible amount of depth. The Reds would have to have five or six pitching injuries before I’d even start raising an eyebrow about who was in the back of the bullpen or the rotation. I hope everyone is amazingly healthy all year, of course. But goodness, it’s hard to not think that the pitching staff is a genuine strength unless things go completely sideways.

110 Responses

  1. James Fox

    I thought it was a stretch when Krall said 16-17 starters were needed but a quick perusal of the 2023 league stats reflect that most teams required at least 10 non-opener starters to pitch several meaningful games. The pitching across the organization is very intriguing and should push most levels to winning records this year.

  2. Doc4uk

    Forgot to include Lyon Richardson among those who could potentially break through or at least start in Louisville. He has the stuff .

    • DHud

      I think Richardson gets squeezed to the bullpen. Stoudt too

      • SultanofSwaff

        I wouldn’t be opposed. I think Richardson’s two pitch mix and intensity are better suited for relief. He could be a strong late inning weapon.

      • DHud

        Admittedly I haven’t watched Richardson as much to really have an informed opinion but yes, exactly my thoughts Sultan

      • DaveCT

        Sultan, pre-2023, BA had Richardson with four quality pitches.

        “Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 50. Slider: 50. Changeup: 55. Control: 50.”

        Further, 2023 was a big developmental year for him on his way back from TJ surgery. While any starter’s future may be in the bullpen, I’d say Richardson will be given every chance to make it in a starting role (I know this isn’t what you’re saying).

        If you look at future value as a starter, Richardson may well replace Ashcraft when he either ages out of the system, (prices himself out) or eventually does not succeed. In value as a starter, Richardson eventually may well become a decent trade chip. It can be argued that moving a solid ML ready (there’s that term again) starting prospect who is blocked at the ML level for a need such as bullpen help, etc. is a player’s best value to the club, in this case rather than counting on him to make the transition to the pen he may not be able to make.

      • Reaganspad

        Come on Dave, that last option is not happening with Ashcraft…

        ?

      • DaveCT

        Ashcraft could easily age out of team control/price himself out of the organization. It’s also well within the possible that he regresses, suffers a serious injury, etc. i don’t want to see this, but you have to consider that it’s possible. And, it’s the same with the others young bucks. As it stands, Ashcraft has burned a couple years of team control. Unless he can sustain a greater run of success, he’s not a certain candidate for and extension and more team control, especially with Phillips, Richardson, Rowder, and Petty as top shelf arms pushing up behind him. Just the facts

      • BK

        Just wanted to point out the Ashcraft has five additional years of control with the Reds. With 1.136 years of service time, he’s likely a “super two” and starts arbitration after this season.

    • Muddy Cleats

      Agree!
      Many suggest there may b injuries, but the reality is, there R injuries NOW or the last I heard. What is the status of Ashcroft, Lodolo & Montas to name a few?? Will they b ready for ST or Start of Regular Season??

  3. wkuchad

    Great article Jason. Here are my tiers for starting pitching:

    Teir 1:
    Hunter Greene
    Graham Ashcraft
    Frankie Montas
    Andrew Abbott
    Nick Lodolo

    If everyone healthy to start the year, this is the five I expect to see in the rotation.

    Tier 2:
    Brandon Williamson

    Brandon is basically tier 1a and should be the first call if any of the top 5 go on the IL.

    Tier 3:
    Nick Martinez
    Connor Phillips

    I love the Martinez signing, and hope the Reds are healthy enough this year that he stays in the bullpen. But he’s a great insurance policy if we have two to three starters on the IL (which is very possible). It’ll also be nice to have someone to make a spot start without having to call up a starter or have a bullpen day.

    Tier 4:
    Lyon Richardson
    Levi Stoudt

    I hope these two have fantastic years in Louisville, but are not needed in Cincy as starters in 2024.

    • Ton Reeves

      Frankly, tiers are far better than tears when it comes to Reds pitching.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    Nice writeup on the issue of quantity as it relates to depth. I think the only thing missing from the rotation is the 190IP guy. I don’t see anyone averaging 6IP while not missing a start all season, either by injury or simply protecting a young arm from overuse. I certainly wouldn’t want to see Greene or Abbott approach that kind of workload and then pitch in October to boot.

    Overall, I think it can become a virtuous feedback loop—sufficient pitching quantity will increase the quality because they should be more fresh when their name is called. Same on the position player side. It’s in this environment where you see win totals exceed projections.

    • Jason Linden

      One of the points I try to make is that pitchers don’t do something right up until they do. Ashcraft or Montas could throw 190 and it wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world. Same for Williamson or Abbott. Montas has thrown nearly 190 before and the other three were all in the 145-150 range last year (counting minor league innings).

      • Reaganspad

        Ashcraft had 147 last year so 180 is not a stretch

        Abbott or Williamson could be sophomore slump candidates.

        Or could they….

  5. DataDumpster

    Nice analysis. Largely agree with your rankings and it is nice to see it all put together after all the moves that have been made. Yes, Krall has installed tremendous depth and I am now not regretting that hypothetical second half of the Candelario trade that was going to bring us the big Fish (something could have fallen apart you know but the end result is still very good strategically).
    Now what about this Fangraphs having us as the 6th best rotation, projecting 4 guys hitting over 20 HRs, giving the deserved high status for McClain, CES and Steer, plus the speed, athleticism, etc. amounting to a 4th place finish and “a more or less .500 team?”
    In spite of some weak points in fundamentals, defense and game management, I am expecting much more. Not a flag but perhaps one playoff series win whereas a 4th place finish should result in some heads rolling (well, probably not).

  6. Doc

    I think we need to see sustained effective performances from Antone and Santillan in AAA before we get too high on their being part of the considerable depth. They were not good or available much last year as I recall and they have some proving to do.

    To me, depth means that in the absence of injury, the Louisville shuttle sits in dry dock. It means that the major league bullpen has the depth to effectively cover all the innings coming their way without having to shuttle guys in and out for fresh arms. Obviously, that means there is a certain burden on the starters to give enough innings each start, on average, that only 2-3 BP pitchers are needed each game.

    Oh, my alarm just went off. It’s time to wake up. It was a nice dream.

    • Jason Linden

      I think in the absence of injury, nothing will need to be done. But there will be injuries 100%. That’s what depth is about. What do you have as backup when something goes wrong.

      This isn’t 1964 baseball. In 2024, you have to assume pitchers will get hurt and you’ll need to call guys up from the minors. Every team will have to do this at some point.

      • doofus

        Got that right. In ‘64 a player rubbed dirt on his arm and went right back out there and completed the game!

      • Oldtimer

        1964 Reds called up (or purchased) replacements when players got hurt. I presume you weren’t born yet. I was and attended many of the home games.

      • Oldtimer

        https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/CIN/1964.shtml 1964 Reds had 6 regular SP and an excellent bullpen. The staff was rated #2 in NL.

        So when you reference a team from the past, at least do SOME research so you have SOME credibility.

        PS lest you think Al Worthington was a bum, he wasn’t. DeWitt traded him to MIN where he starred in the Twins bullpen for the next 5 years.

    • SultanofSwaff

      I thought one of the organizational strengths in 2023 was the frequent use of the Louisville shuttle. Those guys covered a lot of innings and saved the more talented arms from overuse. It’s an effective strategy that doesn’t get used enough around baseball imo.

      • wkuchad

        You’ll see it less of it in 2024 (assuming everyone’s healthy). Of the projected opening bullpen pitchers, I think only Moll and Diaz have options, and they’re not using that shuttle, unless something has gone wrong.

      • DaveCT

        The NYY have been doing that for decades. The Columbus Shuttle.

  7. Amarillo

    Potential AAA rotation: Phillips/Richardson/Roa/Stoudt/Spiers

    Potential AA rotation: Lowder/Petty/Aguiar/Acuna/Floyd

    We have some legit starting pitching talent coming up in the next year or 2 that even if there are several injuries will keep us from having to rely on the waiver wire like we did this year.

    • wkuchad

      If everyone healthy, then add Williamson to the AAA rotation.

    • Stock

      I think Roa is in the bullpen for sure. Maybe even Stoudt an Spiers.

      Alan Busenitz and Brett Kennedy are probably holding two spots until Petty/Lowder are ready.

      I would love for Floyd to be deemed ready for AA but think he starts in Dayton.

      • Amarillo

        Busenitz had 47 relief appearances for the Bats last year without a start. I’d be pretty surprised if they stretched him out this year as a 33 year old. Stoudt led the Bats in starts last year, and Roa had 25 between AA and AAA.
        Spiers possibly bullpen, yeah. I generally agree on Floyd, probably Hunter Parks will start in AA, but I was just illustrating we have some good level prospects on the way in the next couple years.

  8. Optimist

    Still fascinating that Williamson could begin in AAA. Also interesting that Greene’s Babip last season was .,342, Williamson’s .280. Reverse those stats, and Williamson is in AAA and Greene is CYA?

    Rotation should be fine, but bullpen is always a bit of a mystery. But, yes, so much depth.

    • Stock

      What is even more surprising about Greene’s BABIP is that he is an extreme FB pitcher. Because of this I would expect a BABIP of .250 – .280.

  9. MBS

    Williamson was just above a league average pitcher with a 102 ERA+. By the way the only other pitcher in this rotation with a better season last year was Abbott 118 ERA+. Williamson also had the lowest WHIP, and the 2nd most combined IP.

    Why does everyone wants to start him in AAA?

    • Jason Linden

      Because Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo were hurt much of last year, Ashcraft now has two years of being good but for one weird rough patch, Montas is on the staff if he’s healthy, and Abbott was better. Remember, prior to coming up last year, Williamson couldn’t find the plate.

      In any case, I suspect he’ll spend most or all of the year at the big league level because of injuries. But he’s 6th or 7th on the depth chart, and that’s just how it is.

      • MBS

        Ashcraft
        2023 96 ERA+ / WHIP 1.373 / ERA 4.76
        2022 89 ERA+ / WHIP 1.419 / ERA 4.89

        Williamson
        2023 102 ERA+ / WHIP 1.282 / ERA 4.63

        If I had to rank these guys on my expectations for 2024 it would be Abbott, Greene, Montas, Williamson, Ashcraft, Lodolo. If Lodolo puts together a healthy 2024 that would switch the dynamics for 2025, but to ask him to carry a load for 162 is a bad plan.

        I’ve went back and forth on ideas for Lodolo. Piggybacker, Swingman, but now I’m in the camp of starting Lodolo in AAA. We pick up an extra year’s control in a few weeks, and we can manage his IP. If we can manage him in AAA for 2 months, then we can likely see him finish the rest of the year as apart of the Reds rotation.

      • BK

        @MBS, Spring Training will answer many of these questions. However, if Lodolo is among the best five starters, and “IF” he has an innings limit, I start him in the rotation and option him when he hits his limit. When the division/postseason is the goal, the team needs to make every effort to win every game, and that means rostering your best players.

      • MBS

        @BK I want to squeeze the most out of Lodolo as I can, we just have different expectations of what he’s capable of in 2024. 120 IP to 130 IP seems like a good target to get to imo.

      • DaveCT

        It’s easy to overlook the off-season growth that can occur with these young pitchers and players. One deficit of promoting aggressively and thus learning at the ML level is the lack of opportunity for coaching and teaching, even with contemporary tools. If you’ve ever coached at the youth or amateur level, once the season starts, practices and, in particular, teaching drop off the map compared to pre-season. Add the state of the art tools to the offseason and we may well see growth in leaps and bounds with the starters.

    • Stock

      First I agree with you that if Lodolo is on an innings limit he should start in AAA. Except you can argue that he will get injured so you don’t necessarily need to control his innings in April.

      But why many may be in the camp of sending Williamson down and you are not may be how you rank these six vs. others. For example I rank them as follows:

      Tier 1: Hunter Greene. I think he is an ace. His 2023 BABIP (as noted by Optimist) was extremely high for a FB pitcher last year and feel if healthy he will be in contention for the Cy Young

      Tier 2: Lodolo, Montas and Ashcraft. I really don’t know how to rank Montas and Ashcraft because I feel they are close. Lodolo, if healthy and not innings limited could be a top 25 and without a doubt a top 40 SP.

      Tier 3: Abbott and Williamson. I don’t think Abbott’s downturn was necessarily a result of being tired. I am nervous that ML hitters figured him out and also that he was fairly lucky in his first month. I really don’t know what to think about Williamson. He is a different pitcher than the one who was in the minors in 2022. DJ may have turned his career around.

      • Reaganspad

        Interesting comment on Abbott. His stuff appears more hitable to me than the other starters but he is stubborn with his control like Tom Browning.

        Mixing him in right after Ashcraft may help his stuff continue to play up. Both those guys have that stopper mentality. I hope they continue to develop

      • Nick in NKY

        I don’t have the data on Abbott, but if I recall his FB ticked down a little near the end of the year. I think his end of season regression was probably a little of fatigue and familiarity. Hopefully more the former than the latter.

    • MBS

      @Stock, I’m ranking off of what I expect, not off of what they are capable of. I think that’s the biggest difference.

      “Except you can argue that he will get injured so you don’t necessarily need to control his innings in April.” That’s why I don’t rank him in the top 5 for the 2024 rotation.

      I really want Lodolo to get up to 130 IP this year, which would set him up to potentially be a significant part of the rotation in 2025.

      There’s a bunch of SP on the cusp, and if Lodolo doesn’t show he can stay healthy as a starter then he may become a reliever by 2025.

  10. Grand Salami

    Is Doug going to do a write up on the international signing period? Reds got their main kid but I don’t know much else.

    I saw the Baseball America list and the Brewers have almost twice as many signings as any other team. Their pool wasn’t the largest so I’m curious as to what that is about.

  11. 2020ball

    Hopefully the coaches brought a wrench cuz these guys just need to screw their heads on straight and they’ll be fine. No crooked screwing, hopefully they come with their heads already screwed straight already!

  12. LarkinPhillips

    I understand that Lodolo’s ceiling is much higher than most, but due to his recent stretch of injuries and projected low innings count this year, I would still use him in the bullpen as an Andrew Miller type of role that keeps him somewhat stretched out to start the year. I think Williamson would be #5 and have Martinez and Lodolo both in the pen.

    Regardless of what we all think and project, spring training is getting close, and injuries/ineffectiveness will happen. Having depth as Jason pointed out is a nice change of pace compared to the last couple of years heading into ST and picking up others leftovers and a roll of duct tape.

    • BK

      Keep in mind neither the Reds or Lodolo have said he has an innings limit. We don’t know how many “innings” the Reds believe he logged as part of his rehab. While I think many here are making a reasonable assumption that there will be a limit, at this point we are just making an educated guess.

  13. old-school

    Nice summary Jason. Krall did a nice job constructing quality depth in the starting staff and bullpen , and Louisville could have a nice rotation as well. Pitcher/catchers report in a month so we will see if anyone is behind to start ST. For me, Lodolo is the big unknown as he just hasn’t thrown many innings.

    Lodolo threw 120 combined innings in 2019 between college and low A.
    2020-lost season
    2021-13 starts and 50 innings
    2022-22 starts and 113 inning
    2023- 10 starts and 41 innings

    Interesting to see if the Reds see him as a SP in the 5 man rotation on Opening day or come up with a plan to manage his innings over the year. I cant see him throwing 150+ innings and making 28 starts at the big league level. He would be a prime candidate to start ST slow and manage his innings initially in AAA with the Tuesday thru Sunday schedule and pitching just once a week.

    • David

      Yeah, when you look at Nick Lodolo’s IP over the last few years, and his leg injury last year, I think it is very wishful thinking that he is going to be a sturdy starter for 2024.

      He may start the season in the rotation, but then will, very likely, get hurt. Because he always does. That comment may irritate some here, but that is the pattern. He cannot be relied on for a season of pitching.
      And Frank Montas, despite his proclamations of good health for his shoulder, is also problematical about the number of IP he can turn in. Maybe if he pitches well in 2024, with an innings limit, he can return to his former self and pitch 180-190 innings in 2025. It is unrealistic to expect him to take the ball for 33 starts and pitch 150 + innings. It will not happen. 20 starts, 5-6 innings (average) per start, maybe.
      Yes, the Reds will need Williamson to be a starter this year, and maybe Martinez too.
      And if this were the Reds of 2022 or early 2023, then Connor Phillips would get a shot to start; the Reds are not that weak this year. He does have a Major League arm, but his control of pitches and the strike zone needs some more work, at AAA.

      And Hunter Greene, super athlete that he is, will break down again too, sometime in 2024.

  14. Jason Linden

    It’s worth noting that some of the comments here seem to be under the impression that working out of the bullpen preserves pitchers. It does not.

    Bullpen work is irregular and unpredictable. This is part of why relievers tend to have shorter and often more injury-plagued careers with a higher variance in results.

    Generally, any pitcher who has good enough stuff to start, starts. There are rare exceptions where the bullpen ends up being better for a particular pitcher’s anatomy, but that is not the norm.

    But more clearly: If a guy gets hurt a lot as a starter, odds are he’ll get hurt more as a reliever.

    • Stock

      Doesn’t this depend upon your definition of a RP. For example, if I moved Lodolo out of the rotation I would have him be the opener.

      I would not mind a rotation of: Greene, Montas, Ashcraft, Martinez and Antone. Openers would be lefty’s Lodolo, Abbott, Williamson and Suter.

      How many innings the opener’s pitch depend upon the opposing manager. If the manager loads up with RH batters to prepare for the opener, then the opener goes through the line-up one time and is removed after 2 or 3 innings. This forces the manager’s hand on substitutions early in the game.

      If the opposing manager loads up with LH batters to prepare for the SP, the opener can go 5 or 6 innings.

    • DaveCT

      Thank you for pointing out the physical demands of the bullpen. I have always been perplexed why this role was so universally thought to be less demanding. I have often thought it may be more demanding. I am aware of the demand issues on starters — the cumulative stress on the arm throwing 80-100 pitches every five days, particularly the high stress situations of up to 30 pitch innings. However … getting up and down to warm up 1-3 times a game, and having to get warmed up quickly, combined with frequent usage two consecutive days or two out of three days also takes its toll. I suspect the analytics can dispute or negate this. But relief pitchers with their injury histories as well as inconsistencies year-to-year offer some degree of evidence. In fact, I wonder if it has really been quantified.

  15. Jason Linden

    With Lodolo specifically, the issues haven’t been arm related, so I’m not too concerned about him. He’s probably not as fragile as some here make him out to be.

    • 2020ball

      Agreed, in general I don’t go along with the popular tropes around here. IMO they are often very wrong.. We need to see what we have in Lodolo, Williamson will be fine pitching in AAA for a bit.

    • DaveCT

      Well, let’s remember, too, that going from college starter once a week to professional scheduling every five days takes time for adjustment. Combined with Lodolo’s quick rise to the ML’s, it can be argued his body needed/needs time to catch up to his pitching skill. THIS is why the common wisdom of allowing kids to build innings in the minor leagues, with less stress than the ML’s, is still the gold standard, IMO. Don’t rush the kids. Pitchers need to adjust and build strength to go every five days in increasingly stressful situations. Hitters need to adjust to the grit and grind and wear and tear of full season ball. Throw in the adjustments emotionally and psychologically, and that’s why we call if player development.

  16. Tar Heel Red

    To me, the key to the ’24 rotation is Lodolo. He has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the roster and if he is healthy out of ST and in the Reds rotation he could be your 134 innings guy. The only pitcher I see who could reach 190 innings is Ashcraft. The 160 inning guys could be Montas and/or Abbott.

    To me Greene falls into the 134 inning slot. I am just not as high on him as others are. His lack of a third pitch limits his innings due to the fact that he usually throws a ton of pitches. The rest of the innings should come from Lodolo (who I think will open the season at AAA, along with Williamson). Martinez will probably fill in as the 43 inning person, and I look for Phillips, Spier and Richardson to also see a few starts, although I think Richardson would be much better served coming out the pen. Stoudt has already been converted to a reliever at AAA

    The eight guys in the bullpen, to me, are as follows: Diaz, Gibaut, Sims, Pagan, Moll, Suter Cruz and Farmer. I believe the Reds will, as of now, send Young and Antone to AAA…but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Young gets traded either before or during ST.

    Of course, all of this depends on David Bell’s willingness to let his starters go deeper into games as warranted, instead of what his precious spreadsheet tells him. This is very unlikely, so this whole process is subject to change…often.

      • Old Big Ed

        Greene is also a year and a half younger than Lodolo and has pitched 100 more MLB innings that Lodolo. Greene is a lot closer to harnessing his ability than is Lodolo.

        Lodolo is a wild card, and they will be very lucky to get 120 innings out of him this year. The good news is that his arm is apparently fine, and was all last year. I think that they may start him on the IL, then give him some rehab work in Louisville, ease him into the season (perhaps as an opener), and try to save as many innings as they can for September and the post-season.

    • greenmtred

      You’re sure it’s the spreadsheet, huh? There are other possible sources of input: 1). the pitcher himself. 2). the pitching coach. 3). the catcher. 4). the trainer. 5). the pitcher’s track record against the batters he’ll face the next inning. On top of that, there’s the third-time-through-the-batting- order data which influences plenty of managers besides Bell.

      • Stock

        Agreed Greenmtred. It isn’t Bell. Easy to blame the manager but how deep into the game can Weaver, Cessa, Richardson and so many others go?

      • Justin T

        Bell supporters are easily triggered. When he finally leaves in 2035 hopefully most of us will still be around to see the difference between him and a halfway competent manager. Or I can simply point to his win-loss record for factual reference.

      • wkuchad

        Most people that are called out as Bell supporters likely aren’t, they’re just calling out silly criticisms that aren’t true.

      • greenmtred

        If you still don’t understand that a won-lost record is a nearly useless way of evaluating a manager, I don’t know what to tell you, beyond pointing out that Sparky lost 103 games one season and Lou Piniella lost 99. And why did those two highly esteemed managers have such bad seasons? Because they didn’t have enough good players.

      • 2020ball

        Yeah i really dont give a crap if they replace Bell, what annoys are the logicless whines that can be easily transferred to literally any manager. Im down to see no difference between Bell and someone else, yeah. Yall will still be whinin guaranteed.

  17. doofus

    Absent any injuries I can see Ashcraft, Williamson and especially Phillips pitching out of the bullpen. They will be more effective with smaller stints.

    I think Rhett Lowder will displace Ashcraft sooner than we think. Petty possibly bumps Montas in a few years.

    • wkuchad

      There’s almost no chance all three of them are pitching out of the bullpen this year. I doubt two of the three do.

      Ashcraft led us in starts last year and will be in the rotation throughout 2024 if healthy.

      Montas is on a one-year deal.

    • Reaganspad

      Ashcraft averaged almost 6 innings per start. 26 starts and 147 innings.

      He is still a baby, went through his Sophomore slump, had toe surgery and is good to go 180-190 innings. His stuff is a heavy sinker that breaks bats.

      Not only is he not going to the pen, I hope he shares his competitiveness with the other starters. He is exactly what we need in a starter

  18. Mark Moore

    Jason, thanks for the clarity in this article and a pre-season +50,000 to you for making it simple so even an old dog like me can digest it.

    The cascade of “expected innings” tells quite a story. Even if you average out the first three, you about 160 innings. That’s a far cry from the “olden days” of Seaver, Carlton, etc. and I realize we won’t ever see those days again. I think a 6-man rotation coupled with a roster expansion to 27 or 28 is on the horizon to accommodate that.

    It’s mid-January and hope springs eternal. Even more so when you look at the list of potential SP’s you list in this article. Yes, stuff will happen. That’s a universal concern for every team out there. But the 2024 season is so close I can smell it.

  19. bryant

    I keep getting a sneaky suspicion that Krall may not be done yet. I suspect they want to trade India and some prices will fall in the next month for pitchers. Possibly I am now suffering from gluttony.

    • Mark Moore

      Yeah … I also think something is brewing on the Jon India front. he’s really looking like an odd man out. Might take until the trade break, but that’s all just pure speculation.

    • MBS

      There’s been a lot of smoke out there, so I’m with you. I think Cleveland is going to have a hard time getting what they want from a Bieber, Clase trade. This will get them to pull back on Clase, and open the door for more teams to acquire Bieber.

    • 2020ball

      Will not be the least bit surprised if he makes another major move, also wouldnt be surprised if we go into ST w this roster. My dream scenario is another high end piece for the bullpen or another solid mid-rotation starter.

      • wkuchad

        I’m in the same place. Krall has done an acceptable job this offseason. I’m content where we are, but more improvements would not surprise me.

  20. Oldtimer

    None of the Reds SP in 2023 got anywhere close to 180 IP in 2023. Montas may get close in 2024 if he is healthy.

    The Reds P staff is improved over 2023. That’s a low bar to jump.

    The BRM teams from 1970 had good SP and excellent bullpens. They ranked in the Top 2 to Top 4 staffs in the NL those seven years.

    The best Reds teams of my lifetime (born 1951) are 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1990. Each of those teams had a far better pitching staff than 2024 Reds.

    • Jason Linden

      The 2012 team was substantially better than the 1990 team if we aren’t talking about the playoffs. Though your point stands. That was an excellent staff as well.

      I will say that you have hindsight as a benefit. The 1989 staff was especially amazing. we always have to see what happens. There is A LOT of potential in the starting pitching here.

      • Oldtimer

        I rank them by results. The five teams I listed were NL pennant winners. The 2012 team wasn’t.

        The 2024 staff has potential. The 2023 is a low bar to jump over.

      • Jason Linden

        Eh. 1995 won as many playoff series as the 70 and 72 teams did. The playoffs are a crapshoot. Always have been. And they’re even more so in the modern era. Regular season wins is the best indicator of team quality. Regular season record is also a result, you know?

      • Oldtimer

        LOL. The 1970 and 1972 Reds beat high quality teams in NL playoffs to make WS. PIT both years. PIT won WS in 1971. Surely you know that.

        Problem with modern Reds fans is they havre NO IDEA of team history.

        You are utterly clueless. The 1970-71-72 PIT teams were powerhouses.

      • Optimist

        I’m almost as oldtimer as Oldtimer, but consider what the “pennant” means and meant – best record in the league. The 2012 team had the 2nd best record in MLB, behind the Nats – of course the Giants won the WS. Still, that staff compares very favorably with any of those on the list.

        More importantly, the game is wildly different than even the 1990 team, and the BRM game was extremely different than the 50’s-60’s game.

        Without going back before 1950, the best pitching talent in a single staff was likely the 1970 team – Nolan, Simpson 1/2 season, Gullett-rookie. With modern medicine it’s arguable all 3 are HOFers, certainly multiple All-Stars.

        I’ll be surprised if any Red pitcher exceeds 175 innings this season, and very surprised if 3 of them exceed 150. Just look at the 2012 numbers to see how IP are dropping. One of them could get to 175, but the simple depth may limit 3 of them getting over 150.

      • DaveCT

        The 162 game schedule, the added rounds of playoffs, from wildcard to ‘semi-finals’ to league finals to World Series, make the current game far, far more physically demanding and mentally demanding than previous iterations of baseball. Add year round training, winter ball, fall ball, with the higher velocities to hit against and the higher velocities to sustain while pitching, and compare to the long, restful off season and it should be apparent today’s game has issues previous eras could not even imagine.

    • Justin T

      Insulting people who disagree is not what the oldtimers i know do but hey whatever floats your boat. I ignore the many factual mistakes you make because its fun to read but when one does differ in opinion you sure get mighty offended.

  21. Indy Red Man

    Lodolo is def the wild card and I wouldn’t sleep on Lowder. I think he’ll breeze thru AA. Ashcraft is the ace to me if he keeps maturing. I see some vintage Corbin Burnes in his game although his control isn’t that good. He’s still big and strong and can get to the 7th without a ton of pitches unlike our other young guys.

    • David

      A lot of differences of opinion from commenters and the column writer, Jason Linden.

      And the crux of the issue is….we just don’t know. That’s alright, my crystal ball is in the shop getting repolished. Maybe by mid-March, Spring Training, we can all get a better idea of who is going to be ready, who is not, how the pen shapes up, and the rotation.

      There’s nothing wrong with mid-January speculation, but that is all it is, by any of us. Some will prove right (or closer to reality), some not. But all opinions are valid now, unless they include Matt Latos, who is retired. 😉

  22. Ken

    Given the money spent by the MLB fat cats in LA and NY, I think the Reds’ approach is very wise. The Reds can’t compete for a Cole so they try to ensure themselves against the arm injuries that are so prevalent. I enjoyed your overview of the Reds’ staff and can only hope it becomes a formula for success.

  23. Stock

    Good post Jason.

    I would rank the Reds SP going into 2024 as follows:

    1. Greene
    2. Lodolo
    3. Montas
    4. Ashcraft (could see him #3)
    5. Abbott
    6. Williamson
    7. Suter
    8. Martinez
    9. Phillips
    10. Richardson

    Biggest difference is Suter.

    • Jonathan W. Stokes

      Abbot is WAY better than Montas

    • docproc

      Suter will be in the bullpen, not the rotation.

      • Stock

        Suter and Martinez are both slated for the bullpen. But my gut tells me Suter has better tools to be a SP than Martinez.

        Suter was a decent SP until Milwaukee started bringing up a wave of good SP.

        Do I hope he remains a RP? Absolutely. But if 2 of the first 6 are out in ST. I go to Suter before I go to Martinez.

        By mid-season I hope this is not a problem. I hope that come mid-season Phillips and Richardson are dominating AAA and move up to the #7 and #8 spots.

        Maybe by then Lowder and Petty will be in Louisville. That would make things even more interesting.

      • Old Big Ed

        I tend to agree, but it would be interesting to start Suter against the same team that Greene had faced the day before.

        Ashcraft is the #2, although I think the designation of #1, #2, etc. is a bit silly. Lodolo’s innings will come later in the season.

  24. LDS

    Good article but I think they still need another, better starter. Montas is certainly a wild card. Lodolo, if he can stay healthy, could be a big boost to the rotation. And if Greene develops another pitch and learns to get some movement on his fastball. High ceiling rotation but lots and lots of floor.

  25. RedsGettingBetter

    Really good article Mr Linden. The depth is evident right now as an example it’s incredible Carson Spiers is not even mentioned since he was one of the useful pitchers last year when the injuries were depleting the pitching staff, I think him will start at triple-A. Also, there will be the presence of Lowder as a polished prospect having a big chance to make the triple-AAA or, who knows, getting the call to the majors at the end of 2024 season…

  26. Optimist

    I’ve been arguing the point from the other end for a while – to wit: replace the worst 200-300 ip from last season and the that improves the team immensely. Montas may not be anyone’s idea of an ace, or even a #2-3 starter, but the other additions, and last season’s replacements (Abbott/Williamson), and the depth noted, should accomplish what an ace would have, at least for the division and wild card spots. The issue then becomes winning in short series playoffs, but first things first. The depth of the staff may be worth 10-15 more wins; at worst, it’s still better than last season.

    • Optimist

      Not counting fractions, they had 18 pitchers with ERAs over 5.00 throwing 383 innings. Hard to believe they get close to that this season.

  27. wolfcycle

    I think the key is Greene staying healthy and taking that next step. I hope he spent the off season working on his change up

  28. AllTheHype

    Reds traded Duarte to Rangers after DFA for Cash.

    One decent depth piece gone. It shows the strength of the 40 man, when other teams are trading for your DFAs before they can be claimed.

    • Optimist

      “It shows the strength of the 40 man, when other teams are trading for your DFAs before they can be claimed.”

      100% – was hoping it would be for a flyer/A-ball talent, but $$ may turn into that.

    • Stock

      Good point. That is 2 or three in a row that have been traded.

    • Redsvol

      Rangers would have had the last claim (since they won the world series) on Duarte, if I am correct? This means every team passed on claiming him but the Rangers. So the leverage of declining the claim wasn’t very good and they had to get something for Duarte. I may be missing something with the claims process of a DFA player.

      If no-one claimed him – and it appears that almost happened – we would have been able to stash him in AAA.

      • Bigbill

        The Rangers would have had the last chance at claiming him. That is why they did not wait as they believed he would be claimed by another team so they made a trade to get him.

      • BK

        Also, as a player who has been previously outrighted, Duarte could have elected free agency rather than stay with the Reds.

  29. DaveCT

    Gleaning the excess from the fields. Not a pleasant task but a somewhat helpful one in farming.