The Cincinnati Reds will enter the 2024 season with high expectations. And why shouldn't they? The team is comprised of multiple budding stars, and invested over $100 million in free agency this offseason. The Reds also play in competitive, yet winnable, division. The expectations in the Queen City haven't been this high in over a decade.
But increased expectations can also bring disappointment when players don't live up to the hype. After a successful campaign in 2021, Jonathan India failed to match his NL Rookie of the Award-winning season in 2022.
Sometimes, while fans hate the idea of it, the bar needs to be lowered just a bit in order for players to meet expectations. The Reds fanbase is excited for the forthcoming season, but their assumptions for 2024 may need some adjustments. Which three players should Reds' fans lower the bar for with the 2024 campaign just a couple months away?
1. Nick Lodolo
Oddly enough, the expectations for Nick Lodolo were rather high last season. After a successful rookie campaign in 2022, injuries robbed Lodolo of an opportunity to live up to the hype following his first season in the big leagues.
Lodolo enters spring training with several unknowns. First, is he healthy? If the answer is, yes, Reds fans shouldn't have anything to worry about. But there was a lot of mystery surrounding Lodolo's injury last season, and while the southpaw says that he's ready to go, the Cincinnati faithful are skeptical.
Last season, fans were told it was only a matter of time before Lodolo would return to the starting rotation. In fact, his return was oftentimes cited as the biggest reason why the Reds didn't add another pitcher at the trade deadline. However, Lodolo suffered a setback and remained on the 60-day IL for the rest of the season.
If Lodolo is healthy, the next question has to do with last season's numbers. Even before he landed on the IL, Lodolo's stats were not good. While the strikeouts were there, Lodolo was getting tattooed by the opposition, and a lot of balls were leaving the yard.
If he's healthy and his mechanics are sound, then Nick Lodolo will be one of the Reds' five starters leaving Goodyear with a ticket for Cincinnati. But after missing almost all of last season due to injury, fans may have to set the bar a bit lower for Lodolo in 2024.