The overhaul of the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation within the last year has been thorough. Gone via trade are the formidable trio of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Tyler Mahle, a trio not only ripe with quality but also with histories of solid quantity. What’s left for the 2023 season has ample upside, obviously - each of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft dazzled in their rookie seasons - but it remains to be seen just how they’ll fill all the innings required to get through a 162 game Major League season.
It’s with that in mind that we quickly revisit the team’s approach this winter to augmenting their pitching staff, an approach that featured a lone pitching addition that came on a guaranteed, big league deal. Said deal was doled out to Luke Weaver, a pitcher who started just once in his 26 appearances during a 2022 season split between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals, a season in which he threw just 35.2 innings in the bigs. While the relieving was mostly new - each of his 37 appearances at the big league level from 2019-2021 came as a starter - what’s not new is his penchant for not exactly eating innings. In his 7 years at the game’s highest level, he’s only once topped 65.2 IP, and that came with the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2018 when he logged 136.1 IP.
So, it was always going to be a big ask for him to simply step into a Reds rotation that desperately needed innings eaten and, well, chomp. Add-in the most recent news regarding Weaver - that he exited his start in a minor-league game this week with forearm soreness - and the Reds rotation is suddenly at risk of being without something it barely even had in the first place. The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale has more on Weaver’s status, something the team hopes is only a minor setback.
In the wake of the Weaver news (on top of the already known fact that Justin Dunn will be sidelined for a long time), it’s good to see Connor Overton finally put together a decent outing in Cactus League play. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon caught up with the Reds rotation candidate after his outing against the Chicago Cubs last night, noting that he’d narrowed his seven-pitch offerings down to just four to try to get in a groove akin to the one he pitched in last season prior to his back injury.
Over at the World Baseball Classic, Luis Cessa - another reliever-turned-starter option the Reds are considering for their starting rotation - has logged just a lone 2 IP appearance while on duty with Team Mexico. I’ve got no clue nor insight into if he’s been logging heavy bullpen sessions on the side, but that sure doesn’t sound like the most effective way of getting him stretched out for a starting role with the Reds come Opening Day.
I’m beginning to think the Reds could have done a whole lot more to shore up their pitching staff during the offseason. By the way, MLB Trade Rumors recently profiled the Reds activity over the winter, in case you’ve got the stomach to read through that epic tale once more.
As for what the Reds do have, the made another brief round of cuts from spring camp yesterday, reassigning a trio of arms and IF/OF Richie Martin to minor league camp.
Their game last night got banged shortly after Connor Overton put together a trio of solid innings, and it also featured the first hit of Joey Votto’s Cactus League campaign. There’s video of said hit, including an elusive ribbie for the noted RBI-guy!
Over at The Athletic, Tim Britton has been looking at what it would take to lock up various types of players to long-term contract extensions, something that’s super relevant to where the Cincinnati Reds are at the moment.