Lucas Sims 'couple of hiccups' may benefit Reds non-roster invitee Joel Kuhnel

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) smiles as pitchers stretch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (66) smiles as pitchers stretch. / Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK

It sounds as if reliever Lucas Sims will start the 2022 season on the Injured List after a "couple of hiccups" during the offseason. This could greatly benefit Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee Joel Kuhnel, who himself is returning from injury.

Sims, per Bob Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer, is healthy. But, after a couple of setbacks during the offseason (elbow and back), he's unlikely to begin the 2022 on the active roster. The bullpen is a bit of question mark as we head into the season, but to be honest, it already looks better than the hodgepodge of relievers David Bell was given to start the 2021 season.

Lucas Sims' injury may help Joel Kuhnel make the Reds roster.

With Lucas Sims likely out to start the season, the Cincinnati Reds will enter the 2022 season without five of their top relievers from a season ago. Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens have been signed to free agent deals elsewhere, Amir Garrett was recently traded to the Kansas City Royals, and Tejay Antone will miss the entirety of the season following Tommy John surgery.

But the silver lining is that non-roster invitee and one-time prospect Joel Kuhnel will have a much better opportunity to make the Reds Opening Day roster. Kuhnel pitched for the organization in 2019 and 2020, but was outrighted off the 40-man roster prior to the 2021 season and spent the majority of last season recovering from a shoulder injury.

Kuhnel did return near the end of last season and was able to throw four innings at the Reds complex in Arizona before making four appearances out of the bullpen for Triple-A Louisville. In those four outings, Kuhnel pitched in four innings, recorded three punch outs, and didn't allow a single run to dent the plate.

Joel Kuhnel can light up the radar gun. The right-hander can hit triple-digits with his fastball and will also mix in a sinker, changeup, and a slider. During his first two seasons in the big leagues, Kuhnel's heater averaged 96.2-MPH.

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Kuhnel came in during the eighth inning of the Cincinnati Reds' Cactus League opener and made quick work of the Cleveland Guardians' hitters. It was three up, three down for Kuhnel. If the flamethrower can keep that up, Kuhnel could break camp on the Opening Day roster.