Eye-popping stat reveals cause for concern for Reds starter Nick Lodolo

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) circles behind the plate as Philadelphia Phillies
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) circles behind the plate as Philadelphia Phillies / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Nick Lodolo has looked far from his normal self in his last few outings. Over the past three starts, Lodolo hasn’t been the reliable starter the Cincinnati Reds expected him to be this season. The year is still young, but what has happened to the 25-year-old lefty?

The sample size we are talking about is small. Lodolo has only started six games so far in 2023. Of these six starts, in the first three, he was nails. In the last three, however, Lodolo has looked flat and a different kind of pitcher.

In a season where starting pitching depth has been questionable at best, the Cincinnati Reds cannot afford to have a lesser version of Nick Lodolo. Where do the issues lie, and can they be corrected before this season moves into the heat of the summer?

Eye-popping stat reveals Reds LHP Nick Lodolo is allowing way too many HRs.

Nick Lodolo entered his April 18th start versus the Tampa Bay Rays with a 2-0 record and a 2.12 ERA. Lodolo had been very good with his put-away pitches, registering a 36-percent strikeout rate with just an 8-percent walk rate. Lodolo’s better stat was his home run-rate. Over 17 innings pitched, the former first-round pick had just given up just one long ball. 

Taking those stats through his first three games, and looking at the same categories over his last three starts, Lodolo has been night and day. The good news? It seems the reason for the change comes down to one stat.

Over his past three starts, Lodolo’s ERA ballooned to 11.20 in just over 13 innings pitched. The strikeout-rate is fine (24.3 percent) and the walk-rate even dropped to 4.3 percent. His home run-rate, however, is 4.6 per 9 innings pitched. A total of seven home runs have been given up by Lodolo in his last few starts. 

The worst part - almost all of the home runs given up by him have been in the heart of the zone. It would be a completely different situation if the home runs given up were the results of just good hitting by the hitters. 

Reds LHP Nick Lodolo has struggled against the American League.

Over Lodolo’s short major-league career, he has struggled against American League competition. Is it any coincidence his last three starts that he has had have all been inter-league games? In even career starts, Lodolo has struggled with a 7.75 ERA. Another eye-popping stat? The HR/9 rate at 3.3 over 33 innings. This seems to be a constant throughout his game versus AL teams. 

Another coincidence that could be a factor, although this one could be a stretch, is the date on which his downward slide started. Before Lodolo’s start against Tampa Bay, the Cincinnati Reds announced the six-year extension of Hunter Greene. 

Could there potentially be a bit of a mental block going on with the direction the team chose to go with their first extension? Are ongoing negotiations with Nick Lodolo's representation clouding his focus? Hopefully, that isn’t the case, but the time frame in which it all has happened is interesting.

There’s no reason to believe the door needs to be closed for Lodolo, but the home runs are concerning, especially with the number of pitches left in the heart of the zone. It is still early enough in the season for Lodolo to turn it around. 

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