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.
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.