Service time manipulation not part of the equation as Reds rookies set to debut

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene (21) delivers during a spring training game.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene (21) delivers during a spring training game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

It appears as though the Cincinnati Reds are poised to enter the 2022 season with three rookies in their starting rotation. News broke, courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer's Charlie Goldsmith, that right-hander Tony Santillan will open the season out of the bullpen.

This news, coupled with the Reds sending pitchers Graham Ashcraft and Ben Lively to minor league spring training, would appear to signal that Reiver Sanmartin, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo will begin the 2022 season in the Reds starting rotation, joining Opening Day starter Tyler Mahle and last year's rookie Vladimir Gutierrez.

Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo ready to debut in 2022 with the Reds.

This is a mildly surprising change for a franchise that has played the service time manipulation game in the past. Most recently, Nick Senzel was left off the Cincinnati Reds 2019 Opening Day roster in favor of Scott Schebler. Senzel eventually made his big league debut in early-May, but the Reds now control the former first-round pick through the 2025 season.

The Reds, however, did not take the same approach with Jonathan India last season. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year performed so well during Cactus League play last spring, the Redlegs shuffled their entire infield in order to get India on the Opening Day roster.

By adding Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo to the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster, it would seem to suggest that front office is not interested in service time manipulation. Of course, with Luis Castillo and Mike Minor sidelined with injuries, the Reds weren't left with many options. The MLB lockout also didn't afford many pitchers the ability to get stretched out.

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Regardless, Reds Country should be ecstatic that two of the team's most highly-touted pitching prospects are likely to make their big league debut during the first week of the 2022 season. Despite all the negaitvity surrounding the team this spring, this feels like a win for the Cincinnati fanbase.