HomeMLB RumorsReds Notes: Friedl, Rotation, Moll

Reds Notes: Friedl, Rotation, Moll

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Reds fans received some disappointing news regarding the status of center fielder TJ Friedl yesterday, as Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer relayed yesterday that the 28-year-old will need another 7-10 days of light activities before beginning to ramp up his rehab of a fractured wrist suffered during Spring Training last month.

No timetable for Friedl’s return to action was announced at the time of his injury, though Wittenmeyer indicates that Friedl was hoping to have been cleared for more activity at this point in the recovery process. Friedl is joined on the injured list by infielder Matt McLain, who is expected to miss much of the 2024 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in late March. Despite the lack of a clear timeline for Friedl’s return to action, it appears the club is hopeful he’ll be able to return sooner rather than later, as he has not yet been placed on the 60-day IL alongside McLain.

The losses of Friedl and McLain to open the season, along with Noelvi Marte’s absence due to an 80-game suspension following a positive PED test, have tested Cincinnati’s once-impressive positional depth early in the 2024 campaign. Those losses have left the Reds with a somewhat middling offense so far this season, as their 102 wRC+ entering play today ranked middle-of-the-pack in both the majors (14th) and the NL (7th). While youngsters like Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer have gotten off to phenomenal starts this season, other key hitters such as Jeimer Candelario and Christian Encarnacion-Strand have struggled badly to this point in the young 2024 season.

That uneven offense has thrust the club’s rotation mix into the spotlight. The club’s 4.11 starting ERA through their first 13 games this season is also middle of the pack, but the rotation corps received a major reinforcement today when the club announced that southpaw Nick Lodolo had been activated from the injured list to start this afternoon’s game against the White Sox. Once a consensus top-40 prospect in the sport, the 26-year-old Lodolo delivered an excellent rookie season in 2022 but was limited to just 34 1/3 innings of 6.29 ERA baseball last year amid injury issues.

Fortunately for the Reds, it appears the left-hander is once again healthy as he dominated the White Sox to the tune of 5 2/3 scoreless innings where he allowed just one hit and one walk while racking up ten strikeouts. If Lodolo can continue to provide quality production for Cincinnati going forward, he’d join Frankie Montas and Andrew Abbott at the front of the club’s starting rotation. Right-handers Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, and Nick Martinez are also in the club’s rotation mix for the time being, though it’s possible that one of that group could be pushed to the bullpen in the near future by Lodolo’s return. Martinez appears to be the most likely candidate for such a role, given his lengthy track record as a reliever and difficult start to the 2024 campaign.

That group of six appear to be unlikely to get further reinforcements in the near future, as club manager David Bell told reporters (including Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer) earlier this week that left-hander Brandon Williamson’s target date for return isn’t until late next month. Williamson is currently nursing a shoulder strain but figures to be a quality depth option for the Cincinnati rotation once healthy after he pitched to a solid 4.46 ERA (102 ERA+) in 23 starts with the club last year.

Per Goldsmith, Bell indicated that the same late May timeline Williamson is on is also the expected track for lefty relief arm Alex Young. The 30-year-old hurler has been solid in middle relief the past two seasons, pitching to a 3.36 ERA with a 4.29 FIP in 88 appearances with the Reds, Giants, and Guardians the past two seasons. Young is joined on the shelf by fellow southpaw Sam Moll, though it appears the latter lefty is much closer to a return as the Reds announced this afternoon that he’s headed to Triple-A for a rehab assignment. Acquired from the A’s in exchange for right-hander Joe Boyle at the trade deadline last year, Moll was phenomenal with the Reds down the stretch as he pitched to a 0.73 ERA in 25 appearances. While Moll and Young are on the shelf, Cincinnati has relied on Brent Suter and Justin Wilson as their primary left-handed relief options.

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