Reds news: Despite delay, Lucas Sims is on track for Opening Day

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Lucas Sims (39) returns to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Lucas Sims (39) returns to the dugout.

Reds General Manager gave an update on the team before the trucks left Cincinnati headed for Goodyear. Among the injuries reported by Krall was some elbow tightness that pitcher Lucas Sims was dealing with. However, the Cincinnati Reds‘ reliever told fans not worry, and that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

This is certainly good news, as the team will be headed Arizona without a designated closer. Despite signing Sean Doolittle, a former closer for the Washington Nationals, the job at the back of the bullpen seems up for grabs.

Lucas Sims will be an important part of the Reds bullpen in 2021.

Lucas Sims asserted himself last season. After being dealt from the Atlanta Braves to the Cincinnati Reds at the 2018 trade deadline, Sims spent the majority of the 2019 season in sort of a hybrid-role as a starter and reliever. Sims appeared in 24 games for the Reds that season with four starts and posted a 4.60 ERA over 43 innings of work.

While performing admirably as a spot starter for Cincinnati in 2019, Sims excelled out of the bullpen, allowing batters to hit just .181 and posted 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Sims made the switch to a full-time reliever in 2020 and the realists speak for themselves.

Lucas Sims went 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA and struck out 34 batters over 25.2 innings. Sims’ WHIP dropped from 1.163 to 0.935 and his ERA+ skyrocketed from 102 to 196. With Michael Lorenzen likely to occupy a starter’s role and Raisel Iglesias off to Los Angeles, it’s imperative that the Cincinnati Reds have Lucas Sims ready to go this season.

Lucas Sims could be the Reds closer in 2021.

While Amir Garrett seems ready to ascend to the role of closer, I’m not so sure Reds Country should anoint him just yet. While Garrett has the fire that you love to see from a pitcher ready to close out the game, his splits versus right-handed batters are enough to make me concerned.

Garrett is flat-out filthy against fellow lefties. AG held left-handed batters to a paltry .258 OPS last season and allowed only one left-hander to even get a hit. However, when facing a right-handed batter, the opponent’s OPS jumps to .807.

Sims’ splits are much more even, with right-handers posting a .582 OPS and lefties putting up an OPS of .527. I could easily envision a scenario where David Bell does not have a standard closer, but instead rolls with whoever matches up best with the opposing lineup his team will face in the ninth inning.

Next. Reds spring training dates revealed

It’s good to hear that Lucas Sims will be healthy heading into Opening Day against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cincinnati Reds will need all hands on deck as the bullpen will look quite different in 2021.