On Sunday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds beat up on the Arizona Diamondbacks, winning 15-4. The Reds offense went wild, racking up 17 hits that included four home runs and they walked six times with just four strikeouts in the game. That’s a winning recipe. But the more interesting thing of the day from where I sat was that this was the first time all spring that there was pitch tracking data and it happened to come on a day in which Nick Lodolo threw 4.0 innings – giving us a decent chunk of data to look at.

The left-handed starter was solid on the day, allowing two runs in his 4.0 innings while allowing four hits and a walk to go along with three strikeouts. He also hit a batter. On the day he threw 41 strikes out of 69 pitches while facing 18 batters in the game.

Pitch Breakdown

Some quick hits from this data: Nick Lodolo’s average velocity is a above-average for starting pitchers, even if we include right-handed pitchers. His spin rate on his fastball and slider are also both above-average. He had nine swings-and-misses in 69 pitches – the average for a starter in the big leagues last year was 10.9%. More than half of his swings-and-misses came from his slider.

What’s not in that data was just how effective the slider was. Batters swung at eight of them. Five, as noted above, were missed. Two others were fouled off. Only one of them was put in play – a single by Seth Beer.

For this game, Nick Lodolo didn’t exactly pound the strikezone. He threw strikes at a 59% rate. The lefty gave up two free bases – one with a walk and one when he hit a batter. Unfortunately there was no television broadcast of the game, so we can’t go back and look at anything to see what exactly was happening.

Will Nick Lodolo make the rotation?

The Reds still haven’t named their 5th starter. Among healthy starters that still remain in big league camp, Lodolo is one of five. While he’s not on the 40-man roster, it still seems strange that he hasn’t been named to the rotation yet. They don’t have to officially make a move until Thursday – but nothing is stopping them from naming him the 5th starter. If for some reason they need to change their plan, they can do that. It’s happened before – like when Todd Frazier made the team but then before opening day he was sent to the minors because the team picked up someone on waivers at the last minute (I can’t recall who it was – it’s not important).

David Bell has said that the team will need a 5th starter for the 6th game of the season (Tyler Mahle will start opening day in Atlanta and then the 5th game of the year since it follows an off day). Lodolo is lined up to make that start based on the days that he is pitching. Could the team be holding off simply so they can send Lodolo to Triple-A to begin the season, let him make one start for Louisville, and then call him up for the start to follow Mahle? It’s possible. And it could also allow them to carry yet another pitcher to potentially help cover the needed innings since the starting pitchers will still be working on building up thanks to a shortened spring training.

10 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    The concern is 4 innings for the start this late is Spring Training.
    I am not sure, if some time in AAA, would help him get ready?

    • Luke J

      That’s not a concern. The Reds haven’t let any of their pitchers go longer than that in spring training this year. I assume they are getting the bulk of their work in the bullpen. Since Lodolo was in minor league spring training working out long before the major league camp opened, I would be less worried about him going 4 innings this late in spring than all the major league guys who also have yet to pitch more than 4 innings.

  2. Luke J

    And don’t forget, of those 2 runs, one was a single where Aquino made a throwing error from the outfield that allowed the runner to score from second. There were two outs and Lodolo got the next batter out. That run should have never scored and even though was an earned run, was not Lodolo’s fault. He looks awfully good so far this spring against major league competition.

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    It seems to be related to 40-man roster movements not to performance or healthy issues. I think the 5th starter will not need until April 16th unless Bell considers giving an additional day of rest to Sanmartin, Gutierrrez and Greene. If I am right, it is likely Castillo could be on track to start against LAD in that date so Lodolo would continue throwing at AAA…

  4. Old Big Ed

    Lodolo pitched 4 innings on April 3 and would start his first MLB game on Wednesday, April 13. I could see where they would give him a start in Louisville on April 8, except that it is gonna be about 40 degrees at game time. Chattanooga plays that night in Knoxville, where it will also be cold. I don’t like the idea of his pitching in cold weather unless necessary. Maybe they will just keep him in Arizona and have him throw a few innings of a simulated game out there.

    Assigning him to the minors but using him on the 13th could not be construed as service-time manipulation, because (if he stayed in Cincinnati the rest of the year) would still get credit for a full season of service. Plus, manipulation is inherently silly with pitchers to begin with.

    He is definitely one of the Reds’ top 5 starting pitchers.

  5. Optimist

    69 pitches in 4 innings works, especially with an error behind it .As Doug notes he likely gets one start in Louisville, and they don’t use a 40-man roster spot for him, in case they can grab someone in the next week or two. Unless the starters are on fire out the gate, and Castillo/Minor return immediately, I expect Lodolo by the mid-April start, or at the latest, about May 1st. Considering he’s has a complete spring training, they really need to use him – if an innings/pitch limit is a concern, do that at the end of the year.

    Cueto is still available!

  6. BK

    As pointed out in a recent article on RLN, the Red’s 40-man roster is pretty tight right now with so many players heading to the 10-day IL. It doesn’t make sense to add him to the 40-man until he’s needed. I expect some roster churn as teams make cuts this week.