Nick Martinez looking to replace this Reds' starter with strong spring performance

It's still not known what role Nick Martinez will have on the Reds in 2024.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Nick Martinez (28) throws live BP
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Nick Martinez (28) throws live BP / Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Greene has started two games this spring and has seen mixed results. The same is true of both Frankie Montas and Andrew Abbott. But one Cincinnati Reds pitcher has been quite consistent throughout his first two outings.

Nick Martinez came on for three innings of relief last weekend and threw a zero up on the board. Yes, a run scored, but that was run was credited to Jose Barrero's account after he committed an error in the outfield. Martinez has seven punch outs over five innings of work with just two hits allowed and one walk.

While Martinez has been as advertised so far this spring, Nick Lodolo has yet to step onto the mound during a Cactus League game. The lower leg injury that plagued the left-hander last season seems to have spilled over into the start of spring training. Lodolo's absence, however, may open the door for Martinez to be part of the Reds starting rotation rather than the bullpen.

Nick Martinez looking to replace this Reds' starter with strong spring performance

Martinez signed a two-year, $26 million contract this offseason. That's not the type of money you see given to a reliever unless they're working the ninth inning while protecting a lead. Martinez has said he prefers to work as a starter, but is amenable to a role in the Reds bullpen as well.

Seeing as how the Reds have two off days during the first week of the 2024 season, it's quite conceivable that Martinez could take on that hybrid role right out of the chute.

If Lodolo is unable to be part of the Reds Opening Day roster, Bell could operate with a four-man starting rotation through April 10th with the combination of Greene, Montas, Abbott, and Graham Ashcraft on normal rest while Martinez comes out the bullpen. Martinez could then start Cincinnati's home finale against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 11th if the Reds need a spot starter if Lodolo is not yet cleared to return.

Of course, the Reds could always go with Brandon Williamson in place of Lodolo as well. But Nick Krall has stressed the need for increased rest for the club's young starting pitchers this season. Allowing both Williamson and Connor Phillips to begin the season at Triple-A Louisville along with Carson Spiers would afford them the extra off that all minor league teams receive.

Lodolo threw live batting practice to several of his Reds teammates last week, but Bell said that the southpaw still isn't 100%. If Lodolo is a no-go on Opening Day, Martinez could find his way into the Reds starting rotation.

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