Yesterday saw the news of two injuries for the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation. Fortunately, one of them, doesn’t seem serious. Brandon Finnegan left the game on Sunday afternoon in the first inning. But, he tweeted after the game that he felt fine and he was “good to go”. Michael Lorenzen was scheduled to pitch on Sunday, too.

Entering the spring, the Reds had the 1-4 spots in the rotation locked up pretty much – assuming those four guys were healthy. That led to one spot being open, and according to Bryan Price, four guys competing for one spot. Michael Lorenzen, who has relieved in each of the last two years, was competing with Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, and Tyler Mahle. As the spring got going, it appears that Amir Garrett also joined that competition by performing incredibly well.

Among that group, it was Michael Lorenzen who had the worst numbers. His ERA was over 14.00 – but he had only thrown 3.2 innings in official games. One of his outings was in a “B-Game” on the backfields. Those stats don’t show up, but he reportedly pitched well in that game. Yesterday was a big day for Lorenzen, who needed to have a strong outing to remain in the conversation – even with possible injuries opening up another spot that could be up for grabs.

Michael Lorenzen didn’t disappoint. The right hander threw 3.0 innings and allowed a run with three hits, no walks and three strikeouts. The outing lowered his ERA to 9.45 on the spring. And on the face, that’s terrible. Of course, when dealing with a small sample size, one outing can really break your ERA. And right now, that’s the case for Lorenzen. On March 1st he had a tough go of it. He allowed five runs in 1.2 innings to the White Sox.

In Michael Lorenzen’s other three outings he’s allowed two earned runs in 7.0 innings. That’s also come with just six hits, no walks and he has struck out eight batters. One outing was bad. It was really bad. Will that one outing, on March 1st, really make the difference? I can’t say one way or the other, but it probably shouldn’t. It does mean that, particularly given the competition, he can’t have another rough outing, though. What he did on Sunday though likely kept his name in the conversation.

35 Responses

  1. Tom

    They are begging for another injured pitcher. Lorenzen is a reliever, and an average one at that thus far. I’d be more intrigued by a move to CF for him.

    Here are the starters that should be relievers because that’s what people said they’d probably be anyways:

    Lorenzen – arm injury
    Iglesias – arm injury
    Finnegan – injury (way too many innings in 2016)
    Desclafani – arm injury (way too many innings in 2015)
    Garrett – hip injury
    Travieso – injury
    Howard – miss

    I’d give Stephenson time as a SP since he’s pretty much injury free so far and even labors like crazy. Garrett, first sign of arm trouble, unless he’s all star level, move to the pen.

    This team has sought out reliever to starter projects and it hasn’t been a clever enough tactic to succeed.

    Also, I’d consider Castillo a wait and see. He’s exceeding expectations right now and throwing harder than he ever will again. He is a trade candidate if he has a great year this year and next – and if he stays injury free.

    Romano and Mahle look and act like reliable starters.

    • Doug Gray

      Why is Travieso listed as “injury” but Howard isn’t? Both guys had injuries and surgery.

      I don’t understand the reliever/starter thing, while listing a whole bunch of guys who actually were starters in high school/college (Finnegan, DeSclafani, Stephenson, Travieso, Howard, Rainey, Cingrani). Almost every team starts guys for as long as they can before moving them into the bullpen when it’s obvious the steps required to keep starting aren’t going to happen.

      • Gaffer

        I get the point that anyone can be a reliever or starter but many of those listed were predominantly relievers before being acquired. Some barely pitched at all. Basically all of them other than Desclafani and Stephenson had not thrown many innings before being acquired either way.

        Travieso was only a starter his senior year after he somehow threw 100 mph in a showcase. He never touched that again and looked like a middle reliever at 6,2”.

        Howard was a miss before getting injured but you can easily blame that injury on the reds starting him in the AFL after a full season of college and low A ball. He was the third best pitcher on his college team, how does that get you drafted mid first round?

    • Jonathan

      This seems really harsh. Aren’t we giving up on these guys a little fast? Not every SP lights up the League under the age of 25…

      • Tom

        I am hoping the Reds start to identify and acquire real starting pitchers, not reliever to starter projects that have limited upside.

        On the other hand, if they continue “growing” relievers into starters, then please don’t stack 100+ innings over their prior season onto their young arms (Finnegan, Desclafani). Maybe Price is the wrong coach for these kinds of projects?

        Fact is, the rebuild is not working. It is 2018 and the staff is still a total mess. Someone needs to step in immediately to lead this team. Price was holding players accountable at the end of 2017, but now it’s back to stroking everyone’s ego, coming up with clever soundbites, and wordy analysis about Homer Bailey’s awful control.

        Williams having Disco, Bailey, and Finnegan in the rotation this year with no veteran reinforcement is just an insult.

        The Reds have a bunch of BOR minor league arms, injured major league arms, and a raft of reliever turned starters that they are mismanaging. It’s a boiling mess and no one knows where it is going to end.

        Castillo is great and all, but is he for sure? He’s going to have to get around the league more than once to prove himself.

        Bailey, Desclafani, Travieso, and Finnegan are cooked. They are essentially off the rebuild “will be on the next winning team’s rotation”.

        Romano is a hitable # 4 or #5. Might have a superlative year or two.

        Mahle is probably a 10 war player over the next 4-6 years.

        Stephenson is like a Volquez type that will always be undependable. He’d be excellent to reach Volquez’s level, though.

        Garrett seems most focused on making that climb, but we’ll see about that hip and we know he needs velocity to be effective at all.


        This just isn’t a good collection of pitchers. I would trade it with almost any team in baseball.

        2018 is here. The rotation is as bad as ever. Votto is 34. Time to stop with the tinkering around. If this bullpen isn’t top 10 in all of baseball I think Price should be fired mid season. And realistically, there is no saving the rotation at this point unless all the if’s happen.

  2. sultanofswaff

    No offense to Big Sal, because he’s been really good, but there’s no dicernable difference in stuff IMO. My guess is Lorenzen won’t crack the rotation to begin the year……the question becomes to you keep him as the long man or send him down to Louisville to pitch on regular rest???

  3. Krozley

    Biceps strain for Finnegan. Supposedly not too serious, but I think at best he won’t be ready until the 5th starter is needed on 4/9 and will start the season on the 10 day DL. As far as Lorenzen, I think they will use him in 3 or more inning relief roles early on to protect the young arms, possible as a piggy back with Finnegan. He’ll get plenty of innings even though he won’t be a starter. The same might also go for Reed and Garrett.

  4. SteveLV

    I’d exercise a lot of patience with the younger potential starters – a lot of patience. The difference in potential value – to the Reds or another organization – is much higher as a starter. The Reds basically have the bullpen of the next several years already in the organization. They also don’t have an overly large group of pitchers beating down the Louisville doors from AA or A+. Unless they come to the conclusion that their arms/bodies won’t hold up in a starting role or a temporary move to the bullpen will help get them on track, keep rolling them out there and let them learn. Exhaust every opportunity to create a solid major league starter before giving up.

    • CP

      Lopez and Reyes are a couple of the “next” guys down the line. Though only 1 or neither will keep as starters.

      • SteveLV

        I’d put Gutierrez in that group, but haven’t seen any of them pitch so don’t have an opinion on their ultimate role.
        Castillo, Romano, Mahle all seem like they will be good, or better, major league starters.
        Garrett, Stephenson, Reed all have the stuff to do so, have had stretches of stellar performance in either AAA or, to a lesser extent, the majors, and other than last year with Garrett, have held up while starting.
        As Doug has pointed out, if the Reds don’t come out of this rebuild with the core of a real pitching staff it won’t have worked and will set them back years. They have to keep trying with this group

  5. Hal

    My starters would be Homer (only because of $$ reasons), Castillo, Stephenson, Garrett and Romano with Mahle next up and in AAA. Finnegan and Lorenzen are in the pen on my team. I seriously doubt that this is how it will play out however.

    • KyWilson1

      Agree with this. I just don’t believe Finnegan or Lorenzen can hold up for a full season as a starter. I think Finnegan would maximize his value to the Reds as a Andrew Miller type weapon in front of Iglesias. Lorenzen hasn’t even really proved he can be a back end of the bullpen type guy yet. He can be a valuable middle innings guy though.

  6. AC

    I think that Lorenzen is in the conversation for a starting job by request. He’s never been a good starter, and has only been good in the bullpen half the time. I think it’s cool that the team is “doing right” by letting him be a part of the competition, but this is ultimately much ado about nothing.

    • Nick

      Isn’t his inconsistency a normal part of a young guy learning to pitch, especially a guy who didn’t pitch in college and barely pitched in the minors? He went 96 innings from 2016 until the All Star Break of 2017 with a 2.91 ERA and 3.37 SIERA. That’s awfully good for a long time. Now, we know that in the second half last year, he was experiencing significant soreness that likely led to mechanical changes that just didn’t work.

      He may not be one the Reds five best starters, but his inconsistency seems normal for a guy who is still pretty new to pitching.

    • Alex

      Lorenzen is still very young player as well. He only has 1 year in the majors as a starter which wasn’t very good but he was very good in the minors as a starter. Hard to say he cant be good. Amir only has one year as a starter in the majors and he didn’t do good either but everyone is still high on him But he still has prospect hype even though he is only 3 months younger than lorenzen. Some guys just take longer to get there than others. I think they both will be good contributors to the team no matter where they end up though.

  7. Michael B. Green

    I think we are going to see CIN make an offseason move next year that mirrors what they did in 2005/2006. Back then, CIN traded a prospect with considerable talent that happened to hit a 498-ft. HR in the new stadium and took legendary batting practices. Willy Mo Pena was 24 years old at the time and would probably get hyped even more in today’s “seek HR’s and concede K’s” environment.

    The chip in return? Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo pitched in the playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for BOS. He won 2 ALCS games in 2004 and won a WS game in 2004. At the time of the trade, he was 28/29 years old and was coming off 179 and 205 IP in 2003 and 2004.

    So who fits that bill today? Sonny Gray or Alex Wood. CIN has dealt with both of these teams in the recent past too.

    This year will determine who heads up rotation spots 2, 3 and 4 next year. Spot #5 is typically a battle of youngsters – and we have plenty of them – including Jose Lopez next year.

    I think CIN acquires Sonny Gray next year.

    If a pitcher cannot show that they are healthy this year, I think CIN will move on from patience to vying to contend.

    I don’t discount any of our pitchers and all of them are worthy to serve in the rotation next year. They’ll need to back it up with results as early as mid-season this year though as contending teams don’t have rotation battles during the year. We’re going to see 2-5 serving as the best of the current flock and we’ll bring in an anchor that is used to winning big games. None of the current CIN pitchers have that on their report cards.

    Bruce and Votto breaking into the league reminds me of Senzel and Winker. Different types of players but excellent nonetheless.

    I think we are in great shape to transition into a contender mid-season 2018 and beyond.

  8. wes

    In order:

    Mahle to Louisville for service time

    Lorenzen to pen; if someone goes down early he gets to call to start

    Finne and Disco both start on DL and are worked in very slowly and spend full 30 days in Louisville rehabbing before brought back up.

    Be honest- I’m excited to see more young guys get a chance! Go Reds!

  9. Billy

    I brought this up in another thread, but it was kind of late for comments (and too long).

    Do you tell these young pitchers that take the final spots in the rotation that they’ve won the spot or that they’re keeping it warm for DeSclafani/Finnegan? I think the time has come for any pitcher who is given a chance to start to be told that the role is his permanently until he pitches his way out of it. If DeSclafani/Finnegan come back, and Romano, Stephenson, and Garrett are all pitching well and having success, I’d send DeSclafani/Finnegan to the bullpen and let them work there until a spot opens back up.

    It probably wouldn’t matter anyway, but I would want my young pitchers to know that they have every opportunity to get out there and earn the spot permanently.

    • Jordan

      Yep. This is why calling Disco and Finnegan ‘locks’ for the rotation was a poor decision from the start.

      Whoever breaks camp in the rotation should feel confident that they’re there for the long haul. If Disco or Finnegan want back into the rotation, they have to prove health and earn it back.

      • wes

        Good point Jordan! Doug, they both have roughly missed 30 consectutive starts already….

    • Doug Gray

      I think it depends. If Finnegan or DeSclafani are scheduled to only miss 2-3 starts, then no, you don’t tell that final guy that he’s locked in. But if he’s going to be filling in for 6-8 weeks, you tell them that if they perform the spot isn’t going away. If you pitch well for 2 months, they aren’t taking your spot away from you until there’s a performance related reason for them to do so. If you do so for 2-3 starts, that’s very different.

  10. The Rage

    Nope, doesn’t have a chance. ST stats do not matter. I have to repeat that over and over again. The purpose of ST is to prepare for the season. Nothing more or less. The real decision making happens behind the curtain.

    He also has a 5% UCL separation, which you don’t want to advance to Disco level.

  11. MikeinSoCal

    How many pitches does Lorenzen have? He is not going to get it done relying for the most part on his fastball. Don’t think he has the durability to be a starter, even though the guy works his butt off.

    • MuddyCleats

      U nailed it! I ve been around Reds baseball a long time and seen numerous friends who were good Pitchers passed over because they didn’t throw hard enough or we’re not big enough. Reds have always drafted guys w/ FB only degrees, and unless they add pitches, they don’t do well n MLB. Don Gullett is the only exception & he hurt his arm early on trying to b that +100 type guy.

      • Doug Gray

        Can you name me the pitchers they’ve drafted in the 1st round with only “fastball degrees”?

    • Nick

      He literally throws five different pitches. Injury and command concerns are legitimate, but he has the stuff.

  12. James Brian Dehan

    Walt Joketty definitely left his mark on this Reds team – and it is not a good one. Take a look at today’s box score and then focus on the Red’s starting pitcher’s line. That is what Walt got the Reds for $100M. Simply pathetic. If the starter (can’t come to spell his name for fear virol would come out) wouldn’t even be in the starting rotation let alone be on the Reds if they didn’t owe him another $40-$50M. Sad, but someone let Joketty have free reign on this signing and it will go down as one of the worst ever.

    • Wes

      Walt for sure did terrible on rebuild but he built one of best franchises in baseball for several years and if he had yankee money to spend the reds would still be very good today with that pitching staff. I bash him too but he does deserve some credit

  13. AirborneJayJay

    The Yankees DFA’d OF Jake Cave. He had a great year last season. He just wasn’t ready when Reds picked him in the Rule 5 draft a couple of years ago.
    I don’t think I would wait for NYY to put him through waivers and would make a minor trade with them to pick him up. Just the back up CF they need.

      • AirborneJayJay

        Espinosa is a bit long in the tooth. Fossilized. Cave is just 25. A 2-3year replacement for Hamilton until Siri is ready. An upgrade in CF. Can you dig It?

  14. BurgRed

    I like Cave a lot and he’s much better than the guys they are running out there. Which means they will not pursue him. One more thing who would you like to see start every 5th day? Homer or Lorenzen ?


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