Cincinnati Reds: 3 players on the hot seat heading into the 2021 season

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) numbs with left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) after a solo home run in the first inning.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) numbs with left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) after a solo home run in the first inning. /
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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen (21) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen (21) throws a pitch. /

3. Michael Lorenzen, Reds pitcher

Is Michael Lorenzen a starting pitcher or a reliever? Well, we’re going to find out this season. Lorenzen, especially following the hamstring injury to Wade Miley, will likely begin the 2021 season in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation. Whether he remains a starter will depend on how he adjusts to the new role and how some of the other pitching staff performs.

Remember when I said earlier that competition breeds success? I think that’s no more evident than in the race for the final spot in the Reds rotation. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle are locks to pitch every fifth day, but the final two spots are not guaranteed. Heading into spring training, it looked as though Lorenzen and Miley had the inside track. And they still may.

The Reds are paying Miley $8M this season. Unless he’s closing out games, that kind of dough is reserved for starting pitchers. So long as he’s healthy, I don’t see any way Miley is moved out of the rotation. Lorenzen, on the other hand, is in his walk-year and taking home $4.43M this coming season.

While that’s not chump-change, the possibility exists that Lorenzen could return to the Cincinnati bullpen if he fails to impress and the likes of Tejay Antone and José De León continue to push for a role in the starting rotation. Lorenzen’s future is very cloudy right now, but a solid season as a starter could earn him a nice contract with the Reds or elsewhere.

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Mikey Biceps had success in this two starts last season, and pitching every fifth day allows David Bell to utilize Lorenzen as a pinch runner, pinch hitter, or an additional outfielder. The fifth spot in the rotation is Lorenzen’s to lose, but several others hurlers are gunning for that job as well. Michael Lorenzen will have to put in the work all season in order to keep that spot on lockdown.