The Reds are likely to be without two important pitchers early in the season. Manager David Bell informed the media yesterday that fourth starter Luke Weaver and presumptive high-leverage reliever Lucas Sims are each likely to open the year on the 15-day injured list (via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com).
Weaver experienced some forearm discomfort last week. The Reds don’t seem overly concerned — he’s already progressed to throwing a bullpen session after a brief rest period — but the issue has thrown his Spring Training off enough he’ll require some time during the season to build up. Weaver has pitched three times this spring but only made it through 5 2/3 combined innings.
Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal this offseason after being non-tendered by the Mariners, Weaver entered camp as the #4 rotation option behind Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. The righty worked almost exclusively out of relief last season, tossing 35 1/3 frames in 26 appearances. He’d been a starter throughout his career until then. The Reds will give him a chance in his initial role after his season-opening IL stay. Considering he hasn’t topped 100 innings in a year since 2018, the injury could naturally manage workload concerns that might’ve arisen later in the season anyhow.
In the short term, it’ll vacate a second rotation spot for a handful of pitchers still battling for MLB jobs. The final two spots figure to go to some combination of Luis Cessa, Connor Overton, prospect Brandon Williamson, or a non-roster veteran like Chase Anderson. Overton and Williamson have gotten hit hard in Spring Training, while Cessa and Anderson haven’t logged many innings in camp. Anderson initially began in minor league camp and was only added to the MLB side a couple weeks ago. Cessa left the club for a few weeks to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. The Reds could have to make the decision on Anderson’s role in the next 48 hours; he’s one of a handful of veterans who has an automatic opt-out chance this Saturday if he’s not added to the big league roster.
Sims, meanwhile, is dealing with back spasms that necessitated a temporary shutdown. He’s also back throwing again. The right-hander has had a tough Spring Training, surrendering ten runs in five innings. That’s on the heels of a 2022 campaign almost completely lost to a disc herniation in his back that required surgery. Between his on-field rust and the injury history, there’s obvious reason for the Reds to be cautious.
Two seasons ago, Sims emerged as a high-leverage reliever with a massive 39% strikeout rate over 47 innings. He’s among the higher-upside options in a thin bullpen if he can get healthy. Sims has two remaining seasons of arbitration control and could be one of the Reds’ more interesting deadline trade candidates should he find his pre-surgery form.