Here's what the Reds starting rotation should look like to end the season

How will Reds manager David Bell navigate the final two weeks of the 2023 season with so many starters on the IL?
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds lost on Thursday, but took 2-of-3 from the Detroit Tigers on the road and are in the thick of the hunt for the final NL Wild Card spot.

Unfortunately, the Reds starting rotation can be described as piecemeal at best. Hunter Greene is the only remaining pitcher who was part of the team's Opening Day starting rotation. Luis Cessa is gone, Connor Overton and Nick Lodolo are on the 60-day IL, and Graham Ashcraft is nursing a bum toe.

But, at this point in the season, every team has had to remake their roster in some way, shape, or form. With just 14 games remaining, who will David Bell send out to the mound every night over the next couple of weeks?

Here's what the Reds starting rotation should look like to end the season.

Hunter Greene is set to take the ball for the Cincinnati Reds under the bright lights of New York City for the team's opener against the Mets on Friday. David Bell was able to give Andrew Abbott a couple extra days of rest, and the rookie left-hander will toe the rubber on Saturday.

Brandon Williamson will finish out the series in the Big Apple on Sunday, but after that, all bets are off. The earliest that Graham Ashcraft could return to the rotation would be this Sunday, but there hasn't been any injury update of late, so let's assume he'll miss the next two-plus weeks.

Date

Reds Opponent

Reds Starting Pitcher

9/15/23

@ New York Mets

Hunter Greene

9/16/23

@ New York Mets

Andrew Abbott

9/17/23

@ New York Mets

Brandon Williamson

9/18/23

vs. Minnesota Twins

Carson Spiers

9/19/23

vs. Minnesota Twins

Ben Lively

9/20/23

vs. Minnesota Twins

Hunter Greene

9/22/23

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Brandon Williamson

9/23/23

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Andrew Abbott

9/24/23

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Ben Lively

The Cincinnati Reds selected the contract of Carson Spiers, but did not use the right-hander in relief during their series finale against the Detroit Tigers. Unless the Reds have intentions of adding Connor Phillips back to the 40-man roster, look for Spiers to start his third game of season on Monday against the Minnesota Twins.

Ben Lively, who came on in relief on Thursday, would then have four-days rest before taking the ball on Tuesday against the Twins. The Reds could then turn to Hunter Greene once again on Wednesday, which would be his final home start of the 2023 season.

Now, here's where the off-day on Thursday helps. Cincinnati could trot out Brandon Williamson instead of Andrew Abbott on Friday. This would give Abbott an extra day of rest while still keeping Williamson on schedule. Abbott could start on Saturday with Lively pitching on Sunday.

After that nine-game stretch, if the Cincinnati Reds are still in contention for a playoff berth, things could get very interesting with five games on the road to close out the 2023 campaign.

Date

Reds Opponent

Reds Starting Pitcher

9/26/23

@ Cleveland Guardians

Hunter Greene

9/27/23

@Cleveland Guardians

Brandon Williamson

9/29/23

@ St. Louis Cardinals

Andrew Abbott

9/30/23

@ St. Louis Cardinals

Ben Lively

10/1/23

@St. Louis Cardinals

Hunter Greene

Hunter Greene should get the ball on extended rest for the series opener at Cleveland and Brandon Williamson will get the ball in the second game of the two-day stop. Cincinnati then closes out the season on the road in St. Louis.

Once again, Andrew Abbott can step onto the mound with extra rest thanks to the off-days on Monday, September 25th and Thursday, September 28th. Ben Lively should get the ball for Game 2 of the three-game set, and Greene will be the last man standing on the mound for the Redlegs this season.

If the Reds were to actually clinch a playoff spot before the final day of the 2023 season, David Bell will undoubtedly not send Greene out on October 1st and instead preserve his fireballer for the first game of the postseason.

If Graham Ashcraft were to return, obvious things would change. But this starting rotation would give the Cincinnati Reds their best chance to win while also allowing the flexibity of having an extra arm in the bullpen. After Carson Spiers start on September 18th, the Reds could go to a four-man rotation.

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