Matt McLain missed about two weeks worth of time after tweaking his oblique muscle while taking swings at the start of spring training. The good news that followed was that an MRI determined things weren’t that serious, but he was still going to miss some time while recovering. McLain returned to workouts with the team after passing tests. Manager David Bell told reporters (first reported by Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that McLain would get into games this week.

The Cincinnati Reds don’t play today and tomorrow they will play two games – one against Milwaukee and one against San Diego. But Thursday they will be playing a night game against the Chicago Cubs. And that game will be available to watch on MLB Network (or Marquee Sports Network if you have access to that channel where you live). On Friday they’ll be taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers and that game will also be available on MLB Network. While Bell wasn’t specific with what game McLain would debut in, it would be nice for fans if it happened to be one of the few games they have the ability to watch this spring.

Either way, if Matt McLain returns to the field this week and doesn’t have any setbacks along the way, he should be ready in time to begin the regular season. There are 23 days until Opening Day. Mixing in a few backfield minor league games where he can get nearly as many at-bats each day as needed (there aren’t rules that prevent him from leading off every inning, for example) – it shouldn’t be a problem to get him “caught up” before the team leaves Goodyear and heads back to Cincinnati.

Depth Matters

Last week Fangraphs took a look at the depth of each team around the league. We discussed that article in the context of the Cincinnati Reds. One thing that was noted was how the club spent their offseason adding depth over adding that proven, high-end guy(s). One of the things that was hypothesized was that all of that depth lifted up the Reds floor – it’s tough to see how the team would be bad due to injuries because the backup options were nearly as good as the starting options.

Well, as spring training gets further along, teams around Major League Baseball are starting to have their depth tested already. Justin Verlander is going to begin the season on the injured list. Lucas Giolito injured his elbow and initial reports (via Jeff Passan of ESPN) are that he has a partially torn UCL and a flexor strain. To a lesser extent, new St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and former Red Sonny Gray injured his hamstring in his last start and whether he’ll be ready to start the season is in question.

62 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    Good news, need McLain with India out. Now if we could get some good news on Lodolo.

  2. Rednat

    i like our depth. We have a lot of “icing on the cake” players this year which is a good thing. meaning whatever we get from them is a bonus but we don’t have to rely on them. I put Mclain,India,Fraley, Friedl , Stephenson in this category. I think it was smart to hold on to both Fairchild and Barrero. Both durable guys that I think are going to see a lot of playing time this year.

    • AC

      Production from Friedl and McLain isn’t icing on the cake, it’s the cake. Whatever you get from a guy like Marte or, depending on how the rotation shakes out, Benson, is a bonus.

      • Rednat

        I just dont see Friedl 0r Mclain being able to play an entire 162 game schedule. Maybe im wrong. I think if we can get 100 games out of them that would be great!

      • Dan

        What?? Friedl played 138 games LAST YEAR!!

      • Tom Noonan

        I think Marte and Benson are cake, not the icing. Fresh out of the oven cake! Same w CES.

        Now Arroyo would be icing. Same w Hurtibise and Dunn

  3. RedBB

    On the other hand I would be surprised to see Lodolo make the opening day roster at this point and chances are increasing that he will need to have surgery which would likely end his season.

    • wkuchad

      “chances are increasing that he will need to have surgery” – I’ve seen no mention of surgery. What’s this based on?

      • Mauired

        Probably based on the fact he still has leg issues almost a year after they started. And rest and rehab doesn’t seem to be working. I’m with BB that I’m starting to be concerned surgery is the next step. Hopefully we are way off base!

      • RedBB

        It’s what I do for a living….just my opinion

      • Tom Noonan

        Such a bummer. When healthy, he’s sooo good. We do have depth though.

    • Still a Red

      What kind of surgery fixes a chronic stress fracture of the shin. Pins? Seems like it might just spell the end to his career.

  4. Mauired

    Just like Bell keeps downplaying India’s foot. Yet neither of these guys are healthy enough to pay a couple innings of spring training baseball

  5. JayTheRed

    Never like to see big players or any players for that matter getting hurt already but it’s part of sports. It happens and teams that lose big time players to injury have to realize that they may not be as good as they thought they were.

    I too agree we have backup players that are pretty good players in their own right.

  6. Mauired

    Starting to be really difficult to imagine Lodolo as a viable starting pitcher going forward.

    Shoulder and blister problems in 2021
    Back problems in 2022
    Leg problems 2023/2024

    Not many places left in the body for him to injured and we are talking about a guy in mid 20s. Very young. Reminded me of Nick Senzel when it was just one thing after another.

    If they can get 50 to 70 innings of elite bullpen innings maybe they can duplicate Andrew Miller like someone has mentioned before.

    • LDS

      I’ve not been following Senzel thus far this spring. While I’m skeptical of his durability, I am wanting to see how he performs within a set position on a new team. It could offer some insight into the Reds approach.

      • James K

        So far in spring training Senzel is batting .100 for Washington. Small sample, though.

      • Old-school

        Fangraphs has opening day projected lineups. Could be senzel 3b and Winker LF for the Nats

      • Mauired

        Even when healthy Senzel didn’t show a lot other than hitting lefties. Decent at 3rd. Not good in the outfield. Average at best arm, speed, power, and hit tools. No idea why he was the second pick in the draft. But they recovered by getting Benson who was also a 1st rounder that year to make up for it.

      • CI3J

        @Old-school

        It’s really incredible how Winker cratered after being traded.

        His OPS+ with the Reds by year were: 132, 125, 109, 139, 143. I remember at the time that I really wanted the Reds to move him to 1B to start training to be Votto’s heir apparent. And with numbers like that, he certainly had the bat for the position, as well as the physical traits of a “classic” first baseman (tall, slow, lefthanded).

        Did his neck injury really derail him that much? Or what the heck happened to him?

      • AllTheHype

        Winker never hit lefties, and couldn’t play defense. And several Seattle players described him as lazy. Reds traded him at the right time, just like Mahle.

        Fraley, Williamson, Connor Phillips, CES, Steer.

      • Justin T

        Im woth ya though he may not be the perfect example because of his health issues. As far as being moved around, there is no way that actually was helping him manage being a big leaguer. He was struggling at the plate and didnt know where he was playing until he got to the ballpark was probably counter productive to him developing.

        Jesse Winker on the other hand, the problem w him is between the ears. He is not the most mature young man in the clubhouse for sure. He rubs teammates wrong and I think he has personal issues that I wont even try to speculate on.

      • DaveCT

        I never thought Winker would hit in Seattle with the park there, especially combined with the neck issues.

      • Old-school

        @C

        No idea on Winker. He and Votto were top 5 hitters in NL in 2021 against righty pitchers. He made an AS team, then got hurt, then got traded.
        It’s very hard to sustain success at a professional level in anything. It requires skill, work, determination, resiliency and mental toughness and luck.

        Scooter Gennett was cut by the Brewers because he couldn’t hit lefties then was the greatest story in cincy for about 16 months then burned out like a 2 minute sparkler on July 4th. Derek Dietrich was Babe Ruth for about 8 weeks.

        I ve been wrong on a lot of things. I thought Winker was going to be a good hitter for a long time. I thought the Reds should sign India to a long term contract 2 years ago. I thought Adam Duvall was a bad hitter who struck out too much. Turns out he was a really good defensive player who hit a lot of home runs and is a WS champion.

        See how it goes.

        I think and hope CES becomes a power hitting extra base machine 5 hole hitter now for a long time

    • DaveCT

      I’ve been a broken record on this.

      In three college seasons and three years of full season pro ball, Lodolo has pitched more than 100 innings just twice.

      If he pitches this year, the baseline goal for him is to build innings. This is where he is most similar to Senzel, whose last year with the club has at its base goal proving he could stay on the field.

      I was not in favor of promoting Lodolo to the ML’s when we did, after just 68 innings total as a pro. His stuff was ML ready, yes, but the risk was that his body was not ready to take the ball every five days over the long ML season with the stress of facing ML competition.

      It’s good he hasn’t had surgery. It’s good he hasn’t had another shoulder injury or back injury. It’s good he’s never had an elbow injury. He may yet prove he can do this, once his body adjusts to full season ball. But, he is still in that stage of adjustment, and it’s, what, his fourth year? The clock is ticking.

      • MBS

        I’ve been saying we should bring Lodolo around slowly because of his lack of innings thrown over the last couple of seasons.

        Start him in AAA, where he can pitch once a week, and limit his innings. 130 IP’s would be an exceptional accomplishment for Lodolo in 2024. If we could do that, there’s a good chance he can go a full season in 2025.

        Side benefit, sorry to those who hate “roster manipulation” but we also would pick up a year of control if he spends a month or so in the minors. BTW this isn’t manipulation, but just a practical strategy to help both Lodolo, and the Reds.

      • DaveCT

        The only thing I’d really disagree with is about the schedule at AAA. I’d say start him at AAA and have him pitch every fifth day on a Chase Petty 4 innings basis, then increase from there, versus pitching once a week, as that’s a college schedule and I think he needs to adjust to the professional schedule.

      • MBS

        I just want to ease him back into a rotation. I don’t expect him to pitch a whole season in AAA. 2 months of pitching once a week with limited innings 3 to 4 per start should save him 30 IPs or so.

        The odds are by the end of the 2 months the Reds will need him back in the rotation for one reason or another. At that point he’d be apart of a normal rotation.

        If he stays healthy it should put him around 130 IP for the season.

  7. Ken

    Yes, the Reds surely tried “raising the floor” as you noted. They’re doing what they can to compete. It’s hard when you know that if they groom a few superstars, they end up in NY or LA.

    • VaRedsFan

      Which superstars are you referring to that this happened to?

      • Justin T

        Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo come to mind. Aroldis Chapman comes to mind. Its kind of the business model now moving forward, unless you think the Reds are going to start having a 275 million dollar payroll in the near future?

      • Harry Stoner

        While I’m not contending the larger point, those aren’t particularly good examples.
        Gray didn’t go to either NY or LA, and he was traded at a low point in Reds’ for very good prospects, and the team was in the mix to resign him as a FA.

        Chapman was traded, or abandoned, in a horrible deal w NYY following his domestic abuse problems. That history likely kept the team from pursuing him as a FA.

        Castillo may be the best of your examples, but he didn’t go to LA or NY, either. That trade hurt, as he signed for a reasonable rate, but again while the Reds were in financial recovery mode.

        They acquired Castillo on the cheap and did get far better in return than the three stiffs acquired for Chapman.

        There may be better examples to leverage your point, but those three don’t make a very compelling case.

  8. Augusto

    Injuries will happen but in Lodolo and McCain’s case it’s potentially devastating (not including Indias’ recurring plantar fascitis injury). Lodolo may eventually end up as a reliever. On a side note, I believe a player that can really help the Reds is still unsigned, Eddie Rosario. The team should take a look at him.

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    I’m really glad to hear that about McLain, hope he could be healthy along the season, it is huge for the Reds success to have him back.
    Wow, I’m shocked after knowing Giolito has a partial torn UCL that would mean he was very close to have a TJ surgery. Thanks God the Reds didn’t agree a deal with him although I wish he can recover from that condition

  10. Rednat

    There is a difference between being injury prone and durable. Senzel was injury prone but he could play everday when not injured. I just worry that Mcclain, Friedl, india stephenson just are not everday players. Even when ” healthy” can they play everyday ? Im thinking they are more ” part time” players. Just an instinct I have.

    I like Bensons, Steers, EDLC , CES Barrero durabilty. The more durable players we have the better

    • DaveCT

      Friedl has played in 114, 131, (65 –1/2 year injured), 127, 136 and 138 games in his pro career. That’s a durable player. And I believe his half year due to injury was not a wear and tear injury as it was a torn ACL.

      • Melvin

        I’m not sure either how many games Friedl didn’t get in to because of facing a LH pitcher per David Bell. Perhaps he came in as a replacement in several of those. I don’t know how many but not playing as a manager’s decision is a factor I’m sure in how many games he has played in a season. He doesn’t seem injury prone to me.

    • David

      With respect to McLain, the type of injury he has with his rib cage muscles takes time to heal, and that means rest. It is going to come up again this season, and he will spend time on the DL again, this year. I’m not mad at him or the Reds, but he only really heals if they sit him. Maybe for months, or maybe all season. I don’t think that works. Maybe he will be over it completely by 2025.
      Jon India’s foot is really the same thing. It will be a nagging injury, and he will be hobbled by it all season. On and off the DL. Hopefully, they can tag team on the DL, and not both be there at the same time.
      Stephenson was really only “unlucky” with injuries in 2022. I think he will be fine this year.

      • Still a Red

        I’m not as concerned about McLain’s being injury prone. Yes obliques take time to heal, but he was shut down for months. As long as he didn’t re-injure it, he should be fine. The trick would be to not overdo it while trying not to inhibit yourself.
        India’s plantar fasciitis is different story.

      • Mauired

        @Reaganspaz. What’s with your OBSESSION with this the spelling of McClain. Who cares if people accidentally add an Xtra c. Get over it and talk about baseball. Or go to a spelling and grammar forum.

  11. Jim walker

    I agree the Reds appear to have at least reinforced the floor and maybe even raised it a bit. This is all well and good; but unfortunately what they have not done is raise the ceiling to help the impressive young core they have in hand.

    • AllTheHype

      Having better players instead of having Jason Vosler, Curt Casali, Kevin Newman, Will Myers, Connor Overton, Luis Cessa, and Nick Senzel on the OD roster this year won’t help them win games even a little tiny bit?

      That’s an interesting take.

      • greenmtred

        We’re having an ongoing discussion about ceilings and floors. I definitely see the point Jim and others make about not raising the ceiling: no stars signed, no guys who are obviously better than players we already have. But on the other hand, if you get better players to take the innings of the Newmans and Voslers, to my mind that increases the chances of winning some games. The red herring in all of this is that many of the players being counted upon are just starting their second years: they could either raise the ceiling or lower it and predicting which each of them will do is essentially guess work.

      • AllTheHype

        What is “raising the floor” is my question? If it is less losses, then that means more wins. You cannot “raise the floor” without also “raising the ceiling” because there are only two permutations, a loss and a win. A higher floor of losses means a higher floor of wins.

      • MBS

        @Green this is how I see it, other opinions could vary.

        The “Floor” is when things go bad, like needing the bench needs to contribute because the starters are not performing, or are injured. If that happens today, our bench is deeper, so the floor has been raised.

        The “Ceiling” would be when the starters play 90% of the time, and to their reasonable expectations of their abilities. The bench would have very little impact on the success of the team. We didn’t add anyone who is appreciable better than the starter that they replaced, so the ceiling hasn’t been appreciable raised.

        Having a higher floor will win you more games, as it’s not very reasonable to assume that you play to your ceiling over 162. It wouldn’t win more games than adding in game changing type players, but it’s far better than standing pat.

    • AllTheHype

      I guess you’re saying Candelario, Martinez, Montas, Pagan, and Suter will not help them win any more games over the prior set of guys they rostered last year.

      Very interesting indeed.

      • greenmtred

        You’ve started this more succinctly than I did, ATH. I can’t see any meaning for “raising the ceiling” beyond adding players who have the potential to help secure more wins. Frankie Montas likely has such potential compared to, say, Weaver, and Candelario has such potential compared to Myers, Newman and, sadly, last yer’s Votto.

      • MBS

        @All, No one is saying that, look at my above comment for a further explanation of what most people are saying in terms of floor, and ceiling. I am also not Merriam Webster, but I at least defined the terms to my interpretation of the terms.

      • AllTheHype

        A deeper bench contributes to a better team. Better players over the previous roster (some of which were acquired) contributes to a better team.

        The potential for winning even one more game over the prev roster is a higher ceiling.

        Not sure what I am missing.

      • greenmtred

        I definitely understand your point, MBS. We have seen that Bell uses his bench a great deal, sometimes due to injury or rest days and sometimes due to matchups and, probably, because he knows he will need the entire roster during the course of the season and it makes sense to keep those players sharp and engaged. What we don’t know is whether EDLC, Ces, McLain, Friedl et al will be durable enough and productive enough to lead him closer to a set lineup, but my sense is that almost everybody will get a fair amount of playing time, hence my contention (with which you seem to agree) that a higher floor may indeed result in more wins. I go a bit further in ATH’s direction, though, in saying that this is, in practical terms, another way of raising the ceiling.

      • MBS

        @Green, @All, The good news is we all agree that we are a better team, we just don’t all agree on some definitions.

  12. Oldtimer

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/n/nelsoro02.shtml Reds traded Hal McRae and Wayne Simpson for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum in 1972.

    McRae and Nelson were keys to the trade. Nelson was a very good SP in 1972 but he developed elbow problems with Reds in 1973 and 1974. When he pitched, he was good. But his nagging injuries ended his career in 1976.

    McRae went on to a 15 year career in the AL mostly as DH. Had Nelson been healthy, the Big Red Machine might have had another SP in their rotation.

  13. JB

    Imagine the comments on here if Krall would have signed Giolito like a lot of couch managers wanted him to. Amazing not one comment on here about Giolito.

    • David

      Giolito? Well, the Reds sure dodged a bullet by not signing Giolito.
      Say it again….Giolito.
      Actually, a couple of commenters brought up the subject of Giolito on another post.
      So yeah, we are all glad that the Reds didn’t sign Giolito to a big contract.
      There, I mentioned him 5 times in this comment. 😉

      I think the “ceiling” for the Reds gets raised by the contributions of EDLC, CES, McLain, Steer, Benson, Greene, Abbott, Williamson and “maybe” Frank Montas.
      All except Montas are young and have likely not reached their full potential. So reaching that “someday” (2024?) does indeed raise the ceiling.
      I am not enamored of spending a lot of money on Free Agents that might end up being a bust. Like…..Giolito (that’s six).

  14. Justin T

    The way Lodolo has been handled along with McClain re injuring the same injury from last year and even throw Antone in the mix… I just think the Reds front office lacks the knowledge and/or experience to handle these situations. Teejay was brought back to re injure his arm again right away. We called it sour grapes when the kid left our org and said the Reds “lack a pitching plan” for young pitchers, but the results speak to it. You just dont wanna hear it. Every young pitcher in the rotation has zero track record of being healthy for a full season. We go into the season banking on someone doing it though.

    The plan gets muddy sometimes, the message definitely has been muddy at times. But there is absolutely no reason Lodolo shouldve been brought back last year. Who is accountable for making that call? Seems like the blind leading the blind. Theres alot of smoke there to not be a fire. Id love to be proven wrong.