There were certainly higher profile departures offthe 2020 Cincinnati Reds roster than Michael Lorenzen, even though he’s consistently been a valuable member of the club. That said, I’m not sure there were departures that created as many holes - plural - as has Lorenzen’s serious shoulder injury.
The plan was to see him depart the bullpen for a starting spot, though that plan never really replaced his spot in the bullpen with anything proven in much the same way the voids of Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley were never replaced. If Lorenzen could become a viable starter, though, that would have gone a long way to assuage the departures of both Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani, but the injury derailed that plan altogether. In other words, Lorenzen’s void has left ripple effects on both the bullpen and starting rotation (not to mention the bench-bat depth with the return to classic NL rules this year).
In his latest injury roundup, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon spoke with manager David Bell about Lorenzen’s availability as day 60 of his 60-day IL stint nears, and Bell seemed to intimate it’s still going to be a while before we see him in any form or fashion. “Maybe it’s an All-Star break thing for him” is cold comfort, as that’s still some six weeks away, and Bell also confirmed that Lorenzen will no longer be considered for a starting spot. That’s rough news for a guy who’s about to reach free agency, of course, and we’re all just going to have to cross fingers, toes, and eyes that the Reds are still relevant when he returns to give the ‘pen a push.
In other news, The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans caught up with both pitching coach Derek Johnson and Luis Castillo to discuss the depth of the ace’s gargantuan struggles this season. It’s certainly easy to be sympathetic to Johnson in this regard, as he - like Castillo - is a guy who’s had magic touch after magic touch to this point in his career and is finally befuddled on the biggest of stages. Castillo’s got it all, from velocity to movement to a terrifying out-pitch, and for whatever reason cannot put it together this year, and not being able to coach him through it has got to be as frustrating as anything imaginable in the game for Johnson at the moment. Of course, the hope is that because of all those positive aspects it’ll be a very quick ‘light bulb’ kind of revelation that fixes it all, and we’re all hoping like hell that happens in this calendar year.
Over at FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe did a deep-dive with Nick Castellanos on the Reds slugger’s remarkable start to this 2021 season amid the backdrop of an utterly frustrating first season with Cincinnati. Castellanos spoke openly of just how awful most everything was during the shit year that was 2020, and it’s an incredible piece to relate to for all of us, I’m sure. Nick playing like an MVP, the variability in his contract, and the Reds slumping in the standings are going to put a huge spotlight on him over the next month and a half as the Cincinnati front office and ownership group try to figure out just what the hell to do with this roster, but if his hitting hadn’t won you over already, this piece probably will make you wish he sticks with the Reds for a long damn time.
Finally, I signed on with the Bleav Podcast Network last month, and will soon be hosting weekly (if not bi-weekly) episodes of the Bleav in Reds pod for your ears’ consumption. You’ll still get to hear several familiar voices from here in the RR world, but the plan is to also reach out to voices from the baseball world at large for their insights into the Reds and the sport as a whole. You should be able to find it pretty much everywhere you find your pods, if you’re into that sort of thing, with the first episode set to record next week. I’ve embedded the teaser for it below in case you’d like a bit more info on it in audio form (and for the record, the ol’ Red Reporter Podcast, while dormant, is still a thing that we hope to get back up and running again at some point this summer, too).