The Cincinnati Reds have announced their starting rotation to begin the 2021 season. It will certainly be a departure from the dominant list of pitchers that toed the rubber for the Reds in 2021. Trevor Bauer is gone and two of Cincinnati’s starting pitchers will begin the season on the injured list.
The one thing we know for sure is that Luis Castillo will be the team’s Opening Day starter when the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds begin the season on April 1st. La Piedra was Cincinnati’s Opening Day starter in 2019. Sonny Gray got the first start of the 2020 season.
Injuries have dealt a blow to the Reds starting rotation.
Outside of Castillo’s start on Opening Day, there’s no set order as to who David Bell will trot out, but we do know that Gray and Michael Lorenzen will miss a little time during the beginning of the year.
Gray has been held out of games for a couple weeks now after having back spasms. The right-hander has been throwing in practice and looks to be on track to return the lineup rather quickly. Last season, Gray went 5-3 in 11 starts with a 3.70 ERA and 30.6% strikeout-rate.
Lorenzen suffered a shoulder strain a little over a week ago, and the right-hander will unfortunately have to put his aspirations to be Cincinnati’s No. 5 starter on hold. This is another injury that doesn’t appear to be very significant. Look for both Gray and Lorenzen to be back in the rotation relatively quickly.
Tyler Mahle leads the remaining group of Reds starters.
With Gray and Lorenzen on the IL to begin the 2021 season, Tyler Mahle will likely be elevated to the No. 2 starter. Mahle, 26, has the chance to cement his spot in Reds rotation for this season and beyond. Mahle elevated his game last season, posting a 3.59 ERA and 29.9% strikeout-rate. Mahle also lowered his HR/9 from 1.74 to 1.13.
The rest of the starting rotation will feature Wade Miley, Jose De Leon, and Jeff Hoffman. Miley is in the second year of a two-year contract, and Reds fans are hopeful that the left-hander delivers a better performance this season than they saw in 2020 when he posted a 5.65 ERA and only threw 14.1 innings.
De Leon has been impressive this spring, and a recent ruling that the right-hander has a minor-league option remaining will allow Cincinnati’s front office to move the 28-year-old between the big leagues and Triple-A this season if necessary. De Leon could also find a home in the bullpen once Gray and Lorenzen return.
Finally, Hoffman, who was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies this offseason, was competing all spring to make the starting rotation. The injuries to Gray and Lorenzen greatly helped his chances, but the former first-round pick performed well in the Cactus League as well.
Hoffman punched out 16 batters over 18 innings, and the Reds are hopeful that a return to the starting rotation will boost his confidence after being relegated to the Rockies bullpen last season.
This year’s starting rotation, especially until Gray and Lorenzen return, has a lot of holes. There’s a chance that the bullpen will be tested early and often in 2021, and Cincinnati will have to rely upon improvements in the hitting department as well.