Universal DH may put Michael Lorenzen’s dream of a two-way role to bed

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Michael Lorenzen #21 poses during Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Michael Lorenzen #21 poses during Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Adding the universal DH will likely impact Michael Lorenzen’s role moving forward.

The owners and the players haven’t officially agreed to terms for the 2020 season, but it looks like negotiations are going in the right direction and we’ll have an agreement soon. One aspect of the proposals that both parties seem to agree on is adding the designated hitter to the National League. This may put an end to Michael Lorenzen‘s pursuit of becoming a two-way player.

While not officially deemed a two-way player, Lorenzen is certainly capable of toeing the rubber, playing the field and picking up a bat and swinging for the fences. Some may refer to it as a gimmick, but Lorenzen’s freakish athletic ability allow the 28-year-old to pitch in the top half of one inning, hit in the bottom half and then take over in the outfield.

Many fans expected to see Lorenzen take on the two-way role a bit more during the 2020 season, but the likely implementation of a universal DH may put that idea to bed. The Cincinnati Reds have a plethora of talented bats that could fill that role next season and beyond.

One look at the cluster of outfielders on the Reds roster will tell you that Michael Lorenzen’s bat will not be needed next year. Cincinnati’s projected outfield could be Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos and either Jesse Winker or Nick Senzel. Phillip Ervin will likely make the roster as well, and so will Mark Payton. Provided the rosters expand, Aristides Aquino may make the cut too.

So, given that Cincinnati will have more than enough outfielders, it’s unlikely there’ll be a need for Lorenzen to play the field in 2020 unless a game goes into extra innings and his glove is needed. Moreover, the universal DH will lessen the strain on David Bell to utilize the double-switch or pinch hit for a pitcher.

We saw Bell, as many other National League managers do, go to the well quite often when trying to strategically set up his batting order. That will no longer be the mindset in 2020, as bumping the pitcher’s spot further down in the lineup will be of no concern.

Michael Lorenzen may see time as a pinch runner, and on rare occasions could take over in the field, but the likelihood of having him take at-bats may be all but gone. Why lean on a player whose career batting average is .235 and last year only hit .208? It just doesn’t make good sense.

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While Reds fans, and those who love the strategic nature of baseball in its purest form may detest the idea of the universal DH, it appears to be close to a reality. It’s time to wrap your mind around the idea, and perhaps, it’s time to view Michael Lorenzen strictly as a relief pitcher.