Carson Spiers' outstanding performance vs. Cubs puts this Reds starter on notice

The Reds may have some controversy moving forward.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers (68) throws
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers (68) throws / Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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The Cincinnati Reds lost to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, but still emerged with a 3-1 series victory. It's tough to sweep in a team in three games, much less four. But despite the Reds' sluggish start on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati had several chances to get back into the game after falling behind 4-0 early.

The biggest reason why the Reds were able to hang around (and almost pull off another comeback) was due to outstanding performance from Carson Spiers. Recalled that very day following Emilio Pagán's placement on the 15-day IL with a lat stain, Spiers came on in relief of Frankie Montas. Spiers went 5.2 innings, didn't allow an earned run, and struck out seven Cubs' hitters.

Spiers has been used strictly as a reliever in the big leagues this season, but has operated as a starter with Triple-A Louisville. After his strong showing on Sunday against the Cubs, Graham Ashcraft has officially been put on notice, and may permanently lose his spot in the Reds starting rotation.

Reds RHP Carson Spiers' performance vs. Cubs puts Graham Ashcraft on notice

Spiers debuted last season for the Reds, but it was due to a lack of available arms. Cincinnati suffered an inordinate number of injuries to their pitching staff, and Spiers got the call. Spiers made four appearances, including two starts, and posted a 6.92 ERA in 13 innings pitched.

But at Triple-A Louisville this season, Spiers has been the Bats' best starting pitcher. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.050 WHIP in the minor leagues so far in 2024. And with an obvious opening in the Reds rotation, Spiers may get the chance to showcase his stuff.

The Reds recently optioned Ashcraft to the minor leagues. The right-hander had hit a snag this season, and tuneup down at Triple-A seemed appropriate. But with Spiers' performance on Sunday, Ashcraft's return to the rotation may be a bit more complicated that originally thought.

Brandon Williamson's status for 2024 now seems to be up in the air after the left-hander was returned from his rehab assignment. Many Reds fans assumed that Williamson would supplant Ashcraft in the Reds rotation after posting a 0.66 ERA in his four rehab starts. But Williamson will now be held out of pitching for at least a week, and there's no timetable for his return.

Ashcraft has to stay in the minors for at least 15 days per MLB rules. If Spiers continues to dominate as he did on Sunday, there could be a pitching controversy brewing. Many Reds fans have advocated for Ashcraft to move to the bullpen, and that could become more realistic as the season progresses.

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