Lucas Sims missed almost all of the 2022 season with a back injury. Sims faced just 31 batters that season before landing on the 60-day IL and missing the rest of his 2022 campaign.
Sims, however, was able to work his way back onto the field in 2023. It was grueling several months of rehab for the right-hander, but once Sims was back in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, he became one of the most reliable relievers that manager David Bell could turn to when things got hairy.
With Joey Votto likely retiring or moving on during the offseason, Sims will be the elder statesman on the Cincinnati roster heading into the 2024 season. The 29-year-old has been with the Reds since arriving via a trade from the Atlanta Braves in 2018.
Reds report card: Grading Lucas Sims' redeeming 2023 season
I'll try to remain as objective as possible during this evaluation, but I have to confess that Lucas Sims is one of my favorite players on the Cincinnati Reds roster. So forgive me if this comes off a bit biased.
Statistically speaking, you could argue that this was Sims' best season. Yes, in 2020, the right-hander posted an impressive 2.45 ERA. But, as we all know, that season was much shorter and while Sims' 34 punch outs in 25.2 innings is very impressive, he faced much tougher competition this season.
Sims limited the damage via the long ball this season. While some fans will point to the unfortunate timing of some of the home runs Sims surrendered, the honest truth is that his 0.7 home runs per nine innings pitched is a career-best.
Now, if you want to point to the free passes, that's fair. Sims' 15.1-percent walk-rate was among the worst in Major League Baseball according to Baseball Savant. However, his 31.1-percent whiff-rate was among the best, and Sims' .177 expected batting average against ranks in the 99th percentile.
The biggest stat, however, that fans should come to grips with is the number of runners Lucas Sims inherited this season. Sims made 67 appearances this season, and there were a total of 55 runners. He was able to strand nearly 73-percent of them, meaning only 15 times did those inherited runners score.
For reference, Andrew Nardi of the Miami Marlins has bragging rights when it comes to inherited runners this season, having allowed allowed just 13-percent to dent the plate. However, Nardi only inherited 40 runners this season. Let that sink in for a minute.
When David Bell needed to stop the bleeding, he turned to Lucas Sims. The right-hander never hit the IL despite returning from a crippling injury the year before, throwing a career-high 61 innings, and making 67 appearances out of the bullpen. Hats off to Sims, and the entire Reds bullpen this season.