Reds power rankings: Who is the No. 1 starting pitcher heading into the offseason?

How do the Reds starters rank heading into the 2023-24 offseason?

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Nick Lodolo
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Nick Lodolo / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds starting rotation was not good in 2023. According to, the Reds starters ranked 28th out of all 30 major league clubs this past season in ERA.

There are bound to be some moving parts during the offseason. Already, Reds fans have seen the team part ways with former starters Justin Dunn and Connor Overton. And while the Reds may yet add some pieces to their pitching stable before next season, the cupboard is hardly bare.

Believe it or not, the Reds have 10 pitchers who could legitimately be considers possible starters heading into 2024. Let's see where these starting pitchers ranks heading into the offseason.

9. Levi Stoudt, Reds starting pitcher

Levi Stoudt was part of the return the Cincinnati Reds recieved from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Luis Castillo at the trade deadline in 2022. The right-hander seemed like a potential fit as a back-of-the-rotation starter, but Stoudt's performance in 2023 left a lot to be desired.

The 25-year-old appeared in just four games for the Reds in 2023 with only two starts. Stoudt owned a miserable 9.58 ERA and 5.09 FIP in 10.1 innings of work while wearing a Reds uniform. Most of Stoudt's experience this past season came at the Triple-A level.

Stoudt made 19 starts for the Louisville Bats and also appeared out of the bullpen on six occasions for manager Pat Kelly. In those 25 games, Stoudt posted a 5-6 record with a 6.23 ERA and 7.40 FIP. Stoudt also posted a meager 15-percent strikeout-rate.

In all honesty, Levi Stoudt may well be a non-tender candidate later this offseason. His performance in both the major and minor leagues was a disappointment, and as the Reds organize the 40-man roster, it's not hard to see that Stoudt could be a casualty.

8. Lyon Richardson, Reds starting pitcher

Lyon Richardson was a strange addition to the Cincinnati Reds 40-man roster this past offseason. A lot fo fans didn't really understand. What was the point in protecting a young pitcher, who hadn't even played above A-Ball, and was coming off Tommy John surgery?

Well, Richardson showed why the Reds' faith in his was justified. Richardson, a former second-round pick of Cincinnati back in 2018, has all the raw talent to be a frontline pitcher in the big leagues. What he lacks is experience.

Richardson was able to get some experience this past season and is a player that is only going to get better with more reps. The Reds were taking it very easy with Richardson in 2023, and rightfully so. Injuries have taken hold of Richardson's career to this point, so there was no need for the Reds to press their luck.

Lyon Richardson didn't get a ton of opportunities in the big leagues this past season, but when he did, there was a lot to like. The right-hander had plenty of gas, averaging 94-plus on his fastball, and was able to keep the ball on the ground. Richardson had a 48.1-percent ground ball-rate in 16.2 innings pitched.

Reds fans will have to maintain patience with Richardson, and next season's role will be a curious one. Do the Cincinnati Reds foresse Richardson as a starting pitcher or a reliever? It'll be a story to watch during spring training next year.

7. Carson Spiers, Reds starting pitcher

Just like there's a lot to like about Lyon Richardson, there's equally as much to like about Carson Spieres. An undrafted player in 2020, Spiers made his big league debut in a spot start following several pitchers landing on the COVID-19-related IL. He was later added to the 40-man roster.

Spiers is a great story, and has overcome the odds to make it on the grandest stage of them all. However, in all likelihood, Reds fans should expect the right-hander to head back to Triple-A to begin next season.

Many fans forget that Spiers hadn't even stepped onto a Triple-A field before making his major league debut for the Cincinnati Reds in September. In all, Spiers appeared in four games with two starts and posted 6.92 ERA and 4.03 FIP.

Spiers was very good at Double-A this past season, striking out 11.49 batters per nine innings pitcher according to FanGraphs. But there's no need, at this point, for Spiers to begin th 2024 season on the major league roster.

If the Cincinnati Reds are fully healthy next March, Carson Spiers should start the season at Triple-A. In fact, the trio of Spiers, Lyon Richardson, and Levi Stoudt would be a solid top of the rotation for the Louisvllle Bats in 2024. The Reds could then pull from that mix of righties in the event of an early-season injury.

6. Connor Phillips, Reds starting pitcher

Now things begin to get interesting. Connor Phillips, who came to the Cincinnati Reds as part of the return for Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez in 2022, may have the best pure stuff in the entire organization.

Reds players were raving about Phillips' fastball this past spring in Goodyear, and the coaching staff knew full-well that the right-hander would soon make his mark in the big leagues. It doubtful, however, that anyone thought Phillips was coming to The Show in 2023.

Phillips pitched very well at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, and a flurry of injuries at the end of the season forced the Reds to add the 22-year-old to the 40-man roster.

Cincinnati was in a playoff hunt, and with pitchers like Hunter Greene, Ben Lively, and Brandon Williamson placed on the COVID-19-related injured list, it became necessary to give Phillips a shot.

The young prospect showed why the Reds' coaches are so high on him. Despite his youth, Phillips showed a level of maturity on the mound beyond his years. Unfortnately for Phillips, his final outing of the season lasted just three batters, and after walking the bases loaded, he was removed from the game.

Connor Phillips had a cup of coffee in the big leagues this past season, and could very well be in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year next season. On the flip side, a free agent addition or two during the offseason could see Phillips return to Triple-A for the first-half of 2024.

5. Brandon Williamson, Reds starting pitcher

How do you accurately weigh out Brandon Williamson's 2023 season? There were moments where it looked as though the left-hander was the best pitcher on the staff, and other times when it appeared as David Bell couldn't make a change quick enough.

In the end, I think it's fair to say that Williamson had a solid, but not spectacular 2023 season. Hey, for a rookie, that's not too bad. Williamson struggled in 2022 while in the Reds minor league system, so to see him put up the type of performance he did in 2023 is a great accomplishment.

Williamson became a fixture in the Cincinnati rotation, and only Grahm Ashcraft started more games than the TCU product. Williamson was 5-5 with a 4.46 ERA. The southpaw struck out 98 batters in 117 innings of work.

The amount of big-game experience Brandon Williamson received down the stretch will be invaluable next season. Outside of a trip to the COVID-19-related IL in September, Williamson was available each and every time his number was called.

The one area where Williamson really shined in 2023 was his ability to keep the bases clear. The lefty posted a walk-rate of just 7.9-percent after being plagued by free passes the previous season in the minor leagues. Williamson is one of three lefties who could be in the Reds rotation next season.

4. Nick Lodolo, Reds starting pitcher

Speaking of lefties in the Cincinnati Reds rotation, I refuse to simply forget about Nick Lodolo and what he brings to the pitching staff. Heading into last offseason, a strong argument could have been made that Lodolo was the best of the Reds' trio of rookie starters.

Unforunately, injuries derailed Lodolo's sophomore season. This is a disturbing trend, and if Lodolo becomes a liablity more than an asset, then the Reds have a problem.

Lodolo appeared in just seven games last season. A lower leg injury brought Lodolo's season to a screeching halt, and one has to wonder if the injury itself was the reason for the left-hander's poor play to begin the 2023 season.

Lodolo did not look like himself. The southpaw owned 1.75 WHIP and 6.29 ERA through his first 34.1 innings of work before being shut down. Lodolo attempted to come back from the injury, but suffered a setback and never returned to the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation.

If Nick Lodolo is healthy to begin the 2024 season, there's every reason to believe he can be as effective as he was during his rookie season (4-7 3.66 ERA). But if this injury is severe and hampers Lodolo's performance going forward, things are going to get dicey.

3. Andrew Abbott, Reds starting pitcher

Now I'm sure that there are a handful of fans who think that Andrew Abbott is the best starting pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds roster. While there's certainly merit to that argument, I've got a very difficult time slotting a rookie as the best pitcher on the team.

That's taking nothing away from Abbott. The left-hander came in and simply dominated the opposition. Early on, opponents were unable to even score a run off the University of Virginia alum.

Abbott's release point on his fastball is key to his success. The lefty also has a nice array of pitches, and is confident in every single one of them. There's a quiet confidence that Abbott carries onto the mound, and that's an intangible that you just can't teach.

Abbott simply ran out of gas down the stretch. The 24-year-old was approaching an innings-limit, and had the Reds not been in a playoff race, he would have probably been shut down. It was apparent that Abbott was spent during the final few weeks of his rookie season.

There's every reason to believe that when all the dust is settled, Andrew Abbott will the best starting pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds rotation next season. No one would be wrong in thinking that. But he's going to have to prove it.

2. Hunter Greene, Reds starting pitcher

Hunter Greene could easily be ranked No. 1 on this list. While Andrew Abbott pitcher very well in 2023, and Connor Phillips has the type of stuff that makes most GMs drool, there's no denying the raw ability of Greene.

Too many fans want to point out Greene's flaws without looking at his successes. Yes, Greene gave up too many home runs last season. Part of that is a product of pitching at Great American Ball Park.

According to Baseball Savant, if Greene pitched at Fenway Park or Dodger Stadium, he'd have give up less than a dozen homers. On the flip side, if all of Greene's games took place at GABP, the number of gopher balls he gave up would have jumped from 19 to 25.

There are others who want to call Greene a "thrower" and not a "pitcher". That narrative has grown tiresome. Yes, he throws hard; so do a lot of other pitchers. The difference is that Greene needs to get more vertical movement on his fastball.

The biggest bugaboo for Greene, however, is his lack of a third offering. The right-hander has slowly been working in a changeup over the past couple of seasons. Currently, Greene turns to his offspeed pitch about 5-percent of the time. That's obviously something he'll need to work on moving forward.

The Cincinnati Reds inked Hunter Greene to a six-year contract extension this past season, so there's definitely belief within the organization that he can reach the lofty expectations that come with being a first-round pick. Remember, Greene is just 24 years old and is entering the prime of his major league career.

1. Graham Ashcraft, Reds starting pitcher

This is far from what would be considered a consensus choice, but Graham Ashcraft had a productive enough season, especially after returning from the IL, to find himself at No. 1 on this list heading into the offseason.

Some Reds fans will argue that Andrew Abbott is the best pitcher within the organization, while others will point to Hunter Greene's elite talent to rank him atop the pitchers on Cincinnati's staff. But don't be so quick to dismiss Ashcraft.

When he's on, Ashcraft is the most effective pitcher in the Reds starting rotation. That doesn't mean he's the most talented, nor does it mean that he has the best repertoire. But every time Ashcraft takes the mound he's looking to get the batter out as quickly as possible.

The biggest hole in Ashcraft's game is his inability to get a strikeout when it's needed. Ashcraft is much more of a contact pitcher, but he was third on the team in Ks this season. Ashcraft did, however, lead the team in free passes.

Ashcraft has a low strikeout-rate (17.8-percent), but the right-hander keeps the ball on the ground. Ashcraft was in the top 77-percentile, according to Baseball Savant, in ground ball-rate.

Graham Ashcraft underwent toe surgery in September which cut short his sophomore season. In his previous seven starts, Ashcraft went 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 4.9-percent walk-rate. That's the version of Ashcraft that Reds fans hope to see to open the 2024 season.