Why Nick Lodolo has the edge over Hunter Greene as the Reds' ace

Nick Lodolo is the best pitcher the Reds have right now.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds have quite the dynamic duo atop the starting rotation at the moment. Righty Hunter Greene and lefty Nick Lodolo are both having career-years and are a big reason why the Reds are still in the hunt for an NL playoff spot.

Both Lodolo and Greene have uniquely effective arsenals. Greene throws his four-seam fastball about as hard as anyone else in the sport, while Lodolo relies a bit more on changing speeds and pinpoint accuracy.

To be fair to Lodolo, he still throws his fastballs in the mid-90's. That's just not quite at the upper bound of velocity these days. But given the choice where you could only take one, with all contract discussions aside you probably want to take Lodolo over Greene.

Nick Lodolo is the best pitcher the Reds have at the moment

A big reason why Lodolo is so effective is his ability to utilize four distinct pitches. He throws his four-seamer about 47% of the time, but mixes in a sinker that tunnels well with the fastball, as well as a sharp curveball and a changeup that both get a ton of whiffs.

His ability to constantly change speeds and keep hitters off balance has led to strong results in 2024. In 61.5 innings, Lodolo is down to a 2.76 ERA and his 5.6% walk rate is in the top 20th percentile league-wide.

The curveball has been a big part of Lodolo's success this year. He has a 45.2% whiff rate on the pitch thus far and batters have hit just .195 against it. That's in stark contrast to his results with the pitch in 2023.

He missed a ton of bats with the curve last year but when hitters got a hold of it, they hit it hard. In 2023, batters slugged .536 against the deuce. This year, that figure has dropped to .256.

Lodolo is throwing the breaker about 2 mph harder on average this year than he did in 2023. When you factor that in with better injury luck, that could be the difference between the pitch being a liability and one Lodolo can rely on to consistently get outs.

Hunter Greene is making his case to be the Reds' ace as well

None of this is to say that Greene isn't an emerging ace in his own right. He has one of the best four-seam fastballs in the league and has a wipeout slider to boot. He'll mix in a splitter and a curveball occasionally but he throws the fastball and slider a combined 90% of the time, effectively making him a two-pitch guy at the moment.

The splitter is a new pitch for Greene this year, and is still clearly in the works. He doesn't get as much drop on the pitch as other guys who throw it successfully. However, if Greene can get that third pitch dialed in it'll only make him more of a threat on the mound.

Regardless of which one of these guys you think is best, we can all agree that it's a major step in the right direction for the franchise that they're both clicking at the same time. And with any luck, we'll get to watch them pitch into October this year.

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