3 key things to watch for in the Reds upcoming series with the Pirates

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) eyes a tag.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson (37) eyes a tag. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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How will Reds LHP Nick Lodolo respond after his trip to the IL?

All signs point to Nick Lodolo returning to the mound on Saturday to play the Pittsburgh Pirates. The rookie has been sidelined over the past week-plus with lower back tightness. But, it appears as though David Bell has tabbed the southpaw to be Cincinnati's starting pitcher in Game 1 of the doubleheader on Saturday.

Lodolo has been the best of the three rookies the Reds have run out onto the mound this season. Hunter Greene struggled mightily in his last start against the Milwaukee Brewers, so much so that fans are clamoring for the right-hander to get sent back to the minors. Reiver Sanmartin's last performance was so bad that he was sent back to the minors.

Lodolo, however, weathered the storm, and is the more polished of the three first-year starters that David Bell has at his disposal. Lodolo only went four innings in his first start and surrendered five earned runs on seven hits while watching two balls leave the park.

But, in his previous two starts, the rookie looked much improved. In those two starts, Nick Lodolo covered 10.2 innings, struck out 15 batters, and walked only two. He owns a 3.38 ERA and 2.06 FIP during those two starts.

Strange as it may sound, Lodolo might be the best starting pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. That is, of course, until Luis Castillo returns on Monday. The Reds could use 5-6 solid innings from Lodolo on Saturday afternoon.

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