Reds roster move hints at rotation replacement following Brandon Williamson's setback

Brandon Williamson's injury update couldn't have come at a worse time.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Carson Spiers / Ben Jackson/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds have a problem. While the Reds' fanbase has been energized following their team's recent string of series victories, trouble is around the corner following an unfortunate injury update.

Brandon Williamson, who'd been pitching so well during his stint at Triple-A Louisville, was returned from his rehab assignment last week. While the word returned typically has positive connotations, in baseball language, that's code for something's wrong.

Reds manager David Bell revealed on Friday that Williamson will be shutdown for at least a week and is evaluating a number of different options. Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer divulged that there's no timeline for Williamson's return to the Reds roster.

Graham Ashcraft can't fill Reds' rotation void left by Brandon Williamson's setback

This is certainly a blow to the Reds' plans moving forward, as it seemed as if Williamson would be selected to take Graham Ashcraft's spot in the starting rotation moving forward. After optioning Ashcraft to Triple-A Louisville, the Reds are currently operating with a four-man rotation thanks to a pair of off-days sandwiched around Cincinnati's upcoming two-game series with the Cleveland Guardians.

But that won't last forever, and the Reds will need an additional starter added to the mix ahead of the team's upcoming road trip. Cincinnati can keep the rotation of Hunter Greene, Frankie Montas, Nick Lodolo, and Andrew Abbott intact until next week's visit to Pittsburgh.

But when the time comes to select another starter, the Reds cannot fall back on Ashcraft. Why? Because Major League Baseball rules state that once a player is optioned to the minor leagues, he must remain there for a minimum of 15 days. Ashcraft was sent down on June 6th, meaning he can't return — barring injury to another pitcher on the active roster — until June 21st against the Boston Red Sox.

Nick Martinez or Carson Spiers may have to rejoin the Reds' rotation

The Reds are then left with a quandary. Who will be the team's fifth starter? Nick Martinez seems like the obvious choice, though he's been far better coming out of the bullpen than acting as a starter this season.

But the Reds most recent roster move perhaps gives the Cincinnati faithful a hint of what's to come. Emilio Pagán suffered a lat strain and was once again placed on the 15-day IL. The Reds recalled Carson Spiers to take his place. The right-hander has been the Louisville Bats' best starting pitcher at Triple-A this season.

Spiers has filled in as a reliever for the Reds this season, but has plenty of experience as a starting pitcher in the minors. Adding Spiers to the big league roster would suggest that both he and Martinez will work out of the bullpen for the next few days before one of them joins the rotation ahead of the team's upcoming road trip.

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