Cincinnati Reds: Pump the brakes on Michael Lorenzen starting

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 18: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewer sat Miller Park on September 18, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 18: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewer sat Miller Park on September 18, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Michael Lorenzen pitched a phenomenal 4 innings on Tuesday night against Milwaukee, but let’s pump the brakes on handing him a spot in the starting rotation next season.

Before I begin, let me say that Michael Lorenzen has been one of my favorite players on the Cincinnati Reds this season. So, while Lorenzen pitched a phenomenal 4 innings against Milwaukee on Tuesday, let’s slow down before we anoint him as a part of next year’s starting rotation.

Lorenzen pitched 4 innings, just over 50 total pitches, and allowed only 1 unearned run. He surrendered a leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson, however, Lorenzen rebounded nicely with a strikeout of Christian Yelich followed by a 1-6-3 double-play to end the inning.

Tuesday was Lorenzen’s first start since 2015, and while the powerful right-hander excelled in his opportunity against Milwaukee, there’s no reason to think that Lorenzen can maintain that level of execution. On the other hand, there’s no reason to think he can’t either.

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The case for starting Michael Lorenzen is a curious one. There may be no more enigmatic player on the entire Cincinnati Reds roster than Lorenzen. He could be a starter, a reliever, a pinch-hitter, and even play a little center field.

The reason I caution against throwing Lorenzen into the starting rotation isn’t so much due to how he performs in the starting role, but rather what the Reds would be losing out of their bullpen.

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen has been stellar all season long. Lorenzen, along with Jared Hughes and David Hernandez form quite the imposing trio for opposing hitters. Throw in closer Raisel Iglesias and lefty Amir Garrett, and the Reds have a dominant bullpen.

If Lorenzen is removed from that role, who do the Reds replace him with and will that pitcher perform as well as he has? The most logical internal candidate is Sal Romano. But, while Romano has appeared to find success as a reliever, Lorenzen has been in a class by himself this season.

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I’m not advocating for Michael Lorenzen to start, nor am I suggesting he should stay as a reliever. All I’m saying is, let’s not proclaim that he should definitely be a starter in 2019. Let’s face it, as good as Lorenzen is, the Reds can pin all their hopes of an improved rotation on one player. Look for the Reds to be active in free agency in search of starting pitching.