Reds: Nick Lodolo’s promotion signals changes for 2022 rotation

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (86) throws in the bullpen during spring practice.
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (86) throws in the bullpen during spring practice. /

The Cincinnati Reds took Nick Lodolo in the first-round of the 2019 MLB Draft with the understanding that he’d be a fast-riser in the team’s farm system. While I doubt we’ll see Lodolo in the big leagues this season, it’s highly likely that the southpaw will be in the majors next season. What does that mean for Cincinnati’s 2022 starting rotation?

Hunter Greene has already started several games for the Louisville Bats this season, and there’s an outside possibility fans could see the flame-thrower make his major league debut later this season. With Lodolo and Greene likely to be part of the Reds rotation in 2022, what’s going to happen this offseason?

I know, why not just enjoy the run the 2021 Reds are having, right? Sorry, I can’t help but be curious wha the front office may do over the winter given that the franchise has so many skilled pitchers and only five spots in the rotation.

What does Nick Lodolo’s promotion mean for the Reds’ 2022 rotation?

If we’re under the assumption that this season in the minor leagues was a primer for Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, you can probably pencil those two young hurlers into the Cincinnati Reds’ 2022 starting rotation. So what about the other three spots?

All five pitchers currently in the Reds’ starting rotation are under team control through next season. Sonny Gray is signed through 2022 with an option for 2023. Vladimir Gutierrez is still pre-arbitration eligible, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo will be entering their second-round of arbitration this coming offseason, and Wade Miley’s contract contains a $10M club-option for 2022.

Let’s also not forget Tejay Antone. The right-hander has been part of the Cincinnati bullpen this season, but his future looks to be in the rotation. There’s also the matter of Michael Lorenzen. Mikey Biceps is a free agent this winter, but I could easily see the right-hander returning on a one-year deal in order to maximize his value after being plagued by injuries this season.

Essentially, the Cincinnati Reds have eight potential starters and only five spots in the rotation. Sure, David Bell could decide to keep Antone in the bullpen, but that seems like a mistake. Antone has all the tools to be one of the best hurlers on the pitching staff.

With both Castillo and Mahle slated to receive a raise through arbitration this offseason, one or both could lie dealt this winter in an effort to save money and open a spot or two in the starting rotation.

Castillo’s name was circulated in trade rumors this past offseason, as was Gray’s. The former New York Yankee signed an extension after being dealt from the Bronx in 2019. Gray is owed $10.2M in 2022 and has a $12M team-option for the 2023 season.

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It’s anyone’s guess as to how Nick Krall and the Cincinnati Reds front office will put next year’s rotation together, but it’s a good problem to have. It’s fantastic to see the team accelerating players like Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene through the team’s farm system. Get ready, Reds Country! Next year’s starting rotation could be outstanding.