Nick Lodolo's chances of making the Reds Opening Day roster are on the upswing

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers during a bullpen session.
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers during a bullpen session. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Cincinnati Reds starting rotation is in flux. Luis Castillo is unlikely to make his first start, Mike Minor has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game and may start the season on the IL, Justin Dunn won't be ready for a couple more months, and with the abbreviated spring training, not every pitcher has been properly stretched out.

Tyler Mahle was recently named the Reds Opening Day starter, and he'll likely be followed by Vladimir Gutierrez. After that, all bets are off. If Minor isn't ready to go, Cincinnati will effectively have three openings in their starting rotations. Odds are good that Nick Lodolo would grab one of those spots.

Nick Lodolo could break camp with the Reds.

Nick Lodolo is the Cincinnati Reds No. 2-ranked prospect by most outlets. The left-hander is a former first-round pick and looked dominant in the minor leagues last season. Lodolo was slowed by a shoulder injury and blisters on his pitching hand last season, but still managed to make 14 starts.

Lodolo only eclipsed 48 innings, so it's questionable as to how many innings he'll be allowed to pitch this season. But, having been part of minor league spring training and a non-roster invitee to major league camp, Lodolo has a leg up on pitchers like Hunter Greene, Reiver Sanmartin, Riley O'Brien, and Tony Santillan. All four were prohibited from using team facilities during the MLB lockout.

The left-handed hurler took the mound on Thursday for his second Cactus League game. Lodolo went 2.1 innings, allowed one run on four hits, struck out two batters and walked one. So far the spring, Lodolo owns a 2.08 ERA.

It's hard to see Nick Lodolo being left off the Reds Opening Day roster, but after throwing so few innings last season, one might surmise that he may be have an innings-limit in 2022 and be shutdown prior to the end of season.

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Either way, the Cincinnati Reds need starting pitchers, and the list is growing thin. Lodolo, Tony Santillan, Graham Ashcraft, Hunter Greene, and Reiver Sanmartin are all in the mix. After struggling as a starter in 2021, Santillan thrived as a reliever, so we'll see if he is utilized as a starting pitcher again to begin the 2022 season. The lack of lefties in the bullpen might require Sanmartin to join him.