Why isn't Nick Lodolo part of the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation?

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers during a spring training game.
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Nick Lodolo (40) delivers during a spring training game. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell announced a few days ago that Tyler Mahle would be the team's Opening Day starter next Thursday versus the Atlanta Braves. Today, Bell revealed who the starters would be for the Reds first five games of the 2022 season.

Following Mahle will be Reiver Sanmartin, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Hunter Greene. The former first-round pick will be making his major league debut on Sunday, May 10th versus the defending World Champions. But what about another former first-rounder?

Nick Lodolo's name was strangely absent from the starting rotation. Bell, instead, decided to go with a four-man rotation to begin the season. With the Reds having an off-day on Monday, April 11th, Mahle will start Cincinnati's home opener versus the Cleveland Guardians.

Why isn't Nick Lodolo in the Reds starting rotation?

The fact that Nick Lodolo isn't in the Cincinnati starting rotation should give fans a clue as to how the Reds Opening Day roster might be constructed. With an additional two roster spots through May 1st, David Bell could carry an additional reliever until Lodolo makes his first start.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bobby Nightengale, the fifth starer will pitch in April 13th's game versus the Guardians. Rather than heading into the season with 15 pitchers and 13 position players, the Reds could open the season with 14 pitchers and 14 position players and still maintain 10 relievers. We may see a player like Shogo Akiyama or Aristides Aquino survive roster cuts.

The Reds are going to open the 2022 season with several notable players on the injured list. Luis Castillo, Mike Minor, Donovan Solano, Tejay Antone, Justin Dunn, and Lucas Sims will all miss time to begin the season. Antone will be out for the entirety of the 2022 season, and Dunn might not be back until after the All-Star break.

The minimum absence for a pitcher in 2022 is 15 days. That means the earliest we'll see Castillo or Minor would be the Cincinnati Reds' home series versus the St. Louis Cardinals that begins on April 22nd. Between the start of the season and the three-game set with St. Louis, Cincinnati's fifth starter will likely make two appearances.

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Look for Nick Lodolo to join the Cincinnati Reds roster on April 13th at Great American Ball Park versus the Cleveland Guardians. Lodolo would then likely start against the San Diego Padres on the road before David Bell will have the luxury of turning to Luis Castillo or Mike Minor.