Don’t worry, Cincinnati Reds fans. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. For today’s article, there are two. And these lights shine bright.
There has been a lot of unhappiness among Reds fans with the current ownership, especially over the last year. Some of it is justified, but that is beside the point right now. I’m here to give you reasons for optimism, and there are quite a few. Reds fans are among the most loyal fans in all of baseball. We just need reasons to feel like the team is going to compete, right? Winning games is always the goal, and the Reds have done very little of that recently.
If we exclude the 31-29 team in the shortened 2020 season, the Reds haven’t made the playoffs since 2013. In fact, they have finished fourth or fifth (last) in the division in seven of those seasons. Not since the Dusty Baker era have the Reds won a single playoff game.
Now, I’m not here to make a guarantee and say our hometown team will make the playoffs in 2023. As fantastic as that would be, Vegas is projecting the Reds to lose almost 100 games (they were 62-100 in 2022). Enough about what has already happened. Here are some (two) reasons to keep a close eye on this franchise moving forward. Today I’m laser focused on a pair of arms.
Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo are among the best young pitching duos in all of MLB. Each have had some growing pains, but the upside is massive for both arms. Greene had an 11.75 K/9 in 2022, and Lodolo had 11.41. Need some context? I got you.
Here are the top qualified (160+ innings pitched) starters in strikeouts per nine innings:
Carlos Rodon – 11.98
Shohei Ohtani – 11.87
Gerrit Cole – 11.53
Dylan Cease – 11.10
Corbin Burnes – 10.83
We all know strikeouts are sexy. Who doesn’t want to watch a pitcher absolutely dominate a hitter? As a lifelong baseball lover, there is nothing more beautiful in sports.
There are some causes for concern with these two, most prominently being home run issues. Each have a home run/fly ball rate (percentage of fly balls that end up as home runs) which would be among the worst if they qualified. Great American Ball Park is great for hitters, but can be a nightmare for pitchers.
Ready for some more good, Reds fans? Of course you are. Check out these splits from the first and second half of the season for this duo.
Hunter Greene 1st Half: 90.1 IP, 5.78 ERA, 113 K/40 BB, 23 HR, .239 BAA (batting average allowed)
Greene 2nd Half: 35.1 IP, 1.02 ERA, 51 K/8 BB, 1 HR, .175 BAA…this is Cy Young level domination. The sample size is small of course, but Greene was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball in the second half of the season.
Nick Lodolo 1st Half: 26.1 IP, 5.81 ERA, 38 K/12 BB, 5 HR, .313 BAA
Lodolo 2nd Half: 77 IP, 2.92 ERA, 93 K/27 BB, 8 HR, .203 BAA
DO YOU SEE WHAT I AM SEEING? The Cincinnati Reds have one of the best 1-2 punches in all of baseball at the top of their rotation. The starting lineup is a work in progress, but the farm system has a LOT to be excited about. I’ll be following up this piece soon with some more reasons for optimism. All Reds fans deserve it, and have plenty to be excited about heading into 2023. Even better? You can probably sit anywhere you want at any time.
Grab your seat cushions, your best friend and your dad’s old glove. Make sure you sit along the base lines, because these guys won’t be serving up very many dingers in 2023.