Nick Lodolo’s Reds’ comeback accentuated with awesome praise from teammate

Will the Reds' former first-round pick find his way back to the mound in time for Opening Day?

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers a pitch. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Cincinnati Reds really missed Nick Lodolo last season. The left-hander missed almost the entire 2023 season after starting just seven games for the Reds a year ago. Lodolo suffered a lower leg injury, and while he attempted to come back late in the season, it never materialized.

The Reds front office, seeing that length in the rotation was an issue last season, added Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez this offseason. Those two, alongside Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, and Andrew Abbott look to form a quality starting rotation. But Lodolo would turn them into one of the best rotations in the league.

Lodolo recently took the mound for live batting practice earlier this week. Infielders Noelvi Marte and Jonathan India, as well as outfielder Will Benson and Blake Dunn, took their hacks against the southpaw. India used one word to describe Lodolo's stuff - disgusting.

Nick Lodolo’s Reds’ comeback accentuated with awesome praise from teammate

The Reds depth in the rotation is tremendous. In addition to the aforementioned quintet, Cincinnati also has Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, and Carson Spiers. Throw in Lyon Richardson and even Rhett Lowder, and you can see why Reds fans are so excited about the depth in the starting rotation.

But Lodolo isn't a depth piece, he's a difference maker. Some fans forget just how good Lodolo was during his rookie season, and how good he came out the gates last season. In his first two starts in 2023, Lodolo pitched 12 innings and had 21 punch outs while allowing just two earned runs and walking four batters. That's elite-level stuff.

But the left-hander has to remain healthy. If Lodolo can get back to being the dominant force that Reds Country saw during his rookie season in 2022, Cincinnati may have the best rotation, not just in the division, but in the National League.

Hitters fear Lodolo because he's not afraid to pitch inside. Despite throwing in just 103 innings during the 2022 season, Lodolo led the majors with 19 hit by pitch. He's not aiming at the opposition, but he's going to come inside with a breaking ball against right-handed batters and make them look silly.

Nick Lodolo is working his way back, and there are question about whether or not he'll be healthy by Opening Day. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Lodolo's next-day recovery was not perfect, but he could still be part of the Opening Day roster. But no matter when the southpaw returns to the mound, he will undoubtedly make the Reds rotation better.