2 Reds spring training revelations, 1 mirage fans can't be fooled by

What have we learned so far this spring?

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Nick Martinez (28) throws live batting practice.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Nick Martinez (28) throws live batting practice. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Nick Martinez will make it tough for Brandon Williamson & Connor Phillips to join the Reds rotation

When the Reds signed Martinez this offseason, the contract looked as though it had starting pitcher written all over it. It's not often that a reliever gets a two-year, $26 million pact unless he's pitching in the ninth inning with the lead. That type of money is reserved for closers. But that's not going to be Martinez's role in 2024.

Baseball fans have gravitated toward the term swingman; a pitcher who can operate as both a starter and reliever. That was Martinez's role with the San Diego Padres last season, and could very well be his role with the Reds this season. But Martinez's presence on the roster will make it tough for both Williamson and Phillips to find a spot in the starting rotation.

Heading into the season, it seems as though Nick Lodolo will not be stretched out enough to be part of the Opening Day roster. It's a good bet that Martinez will join Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, and Frankie Montas in the starting rotation. That means Williamson and Phillips are ticketed for Triple-A.

When Lodolo is fully cleared, it stands to reason that Martinez would then shift his role to the bullpen and give Bell a handful of innings every two or three nights. That's not a bad thing, unless you're Williamson or Phillips.

Both Williamson and Phillips have what it takes to be major league pitchers, but the opportunities will be few and far between in 2024 if everyone remains healthy. When those chances do come around, Williamson and Phillips will have to be ready to go, as the competition for a spot in the Reds rotation just got turned up a notch. Rhett Lowder and Chase Petty won't be far behind.