The Reds are losing another starter to the injured list, as the team announced this morning that rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo is headed to the 10-day IL. He’s dealing with a lower back strain, per Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Infielder Mike Moustakas was reinstated from the 10-day IL in a corresponding move, and he’s back in the Reds’ lineup as the designated hitter for Thursday’s game.
Cincinnati hasn’t given any indication as to whether this will be a brief stint on the IL for Lodolo, or whether their touted young lefty could be facing a more protracted absence. Regardless, he’s joining both Luis Castillo and Mike Minor on the injured list, leaving an already floundering Reds team with a question mark in the rotation. Tyler Mahle, Hunter Greene, Vladimir Gutierrez and Reiver Sanmartin are all healthy options at the moment, although Greene’s 5.27 ERA is the best of that bunch through four turns in the rotation.
Castillo set out on a rehab assignment this past weekend and threw 48 pitches (2 1/3 innings), so he’s at least on pace to rejoin the rotation sooner than later. The Reds had been planning on giving him two more rehab appearances before activating him in perhaps the second week of May, so we’ll see if the injury to Lodolo prompts a more accelerated timetable for the team’s top starter. Cincinnati could simply go with a bullpen game or two while waiting on Castillo’s return, or it’s possible that they’ll take a look at righty Graham Ashcraft, who’s out to a strong start in Triple-A. If the preference is for a shorter-term veteran option, right-hander Zack Godley is also on the roster down in Louisville. Either would need to be selected to the 40-man roster.
Lodolo, 24, was the No. 7 overall draft pick back in 2019 and entered the season ranked among the sport’s top pitching prospects. He’s gotten out to a rough start, however, surrendering a 5.52 ERA through 14 2/3 innings over his first three big league starts. He’s punched out an impressive 27.5% of his opponents thus far, but Lodolo has yielded a whopping 18 hits — three of them home runs. He’s also walked five hitters and plunked a pair, further crowding the basepaths. Certainly, a rocky stretch of three starts to begin his career isn’t going to dramatically alter the perception of Lodolo or dampen his long-term outlook, but the struggles are magnified, given the injuries and struggles that are permeating the remainder of the Reds’ pitching staff.
As for the 33-year-old Moustakas, he wound up missing a minimal 10 days with a right biceps strain. The three-time All-Star is in dire need of a rebound at the dish, as he opened the year with a .129/.125/.129 slash and is batting just .196/.261/.336 in 238 plate appearances dating back to 2021. Moustakas is in the third season of a four-year, $64MM contract with the Reds.