How Connor Overton can buck the trend and join the 2023 Reds starting rotation

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Connor Overton
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Connor Overton / Jason Miller/GettyImages

If you love an underdog story, you've got to be a fan of Connor Overton. The right-hander will be competing for a spot in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation during spring training.

Overton, last year's 28-year-old rookie, is looking to regain the spot that he earned after a fabulous start to his 2022 campaign. His season was cut short due to injury, but Overton is in Goodyear and reay to reassert himself among the Reds group of starting pitchers.

Ironically, it was injuries that saw Overton promoted to the big leagues last season. After Luis Castillo and Mike Minor were slowed by early-season injuries and Nick Lodolo was sidelined with a back ailment, it was Overton who was thrust into the spotlight. How can Overton get back into the starting rotation this spring?

How Connor Overton can buck the trend and join the 2023 Reds starting rotation.

Everyone knows by now that Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft will be atop the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation in 2023. After all three proved themselves during their rookie seasons, the trio is ready for Year 2 in the major leagues.

But Connor Overton was actually part of last year's rookie class as well. After making just nine appearances between the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021, Overton's rookie status was still intact last season.

Overton went 1-0 in his four starts and allowed just 15 hits, only two of which went for extra bases, in 24.2 innings of work. His ERA was an astounding 1.82 and the opposition was only able to post a .185 batting average against.

Overton is not going to overwhelm you with stuff. The Virginia native averaged just 91 mph on his fastball according to Baseball Savant which puts him in the 17th percentile among all major league pitchers. By comparison, Hunter Greene's fastball is in the 99th percentile.

It's not necessary for every pitcher to hit triple-digits on the radar gun. Former Reds pitcher Wade Miley had plenty of success with a below-average fastball. Former Chicago Cubs hurler and current Texas Rangers starter Kyle Hendricks has followed that model as well.

Overton's lack of velocity, especially if he were slotted as the No. 5 pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation with Hunter Greene occupying the No. 1 spot, could be advantageous. The contrast in styles is tremendous, and if the Reds were to deploy left-hander Nick Lodolo as the No. 2 starter, the opposing batters could potentially be off balance for an three-game entire series.

Connor Overton will face some stiff competition from the likes of Luke Weaver, Luis Cessa, Justin Dunn, and top prospects like Brandon Williamson and Levi Stoudt. Though he doesn't possess elite-level stuff, Overton has had success at the highest level. He'll be looking to buck the trend with a strong showing this spring.

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