Cincinnati Reds Nick Lodolo Expectations

Cincinnati Reds Nick Lodolo Expectations

Cincinnati Reds left-hand pitcher Nick Lodolo has returned from a leg injury to make two starts for the big league club. He has won both games and looked fantastic coming back from injury. His first start game was back on April 13th, against the Chicago White Sox, and most recently, Friday night, April 19th, he faced the Los Angeles Angels. Lodolo was drafted in the first round, seventh overall, by the Reds in 2019. He was talked about highly heading into last season as a potential breakout candidate. He pitched in 28 games last year, recording an eight-and-eight record with a 4.03 ERA. He is a strikeout pitcher, recording 194 K’s in 149.2 innings of work last year. As we look at his first two starts, what can the Reds expect from him the rest of the way?

First Two Starts:

In his return to action with the Reds against the White Sox, Lodolo went 5.2 innings, allowing one hit, one walk, and striking out 10. Lodolo held the White Sox to a 0.056 batting average on the day. His strikeout rate was 48%, with a five percent walk rate. The White Sox had zero barrels daily and only a 25% hard-hit rate. Lodolo’s fastest pitch of the day was his 4-seam fastball in an at-bat with Martin Maldonado at 95 mph. Lodolo used a four-pitch arsenal against the White Sox, a 4-seam fastball, changeup, sinker, and curveball. Seven of his strikeouts came on his curveball, two on his 4-seam fastball, and one on his changeup. The hardest hit ball against him on the day was a 97.6 mph exit velocity by Gavin Sheets, which was hit to dead center traveling 342 feet as a flyout.

Against the Angeles, Lodolo recorded the win, going 6.1 innings. He gave up seven hits and zero walks and struck out six on the day. He held the Angels to a .280 batting average with a 47% hard-hit rate. His walk rate was zero, and his strikeout rate was 24% on the day. His four-seam fastball maxed out at 94.6 mph on the day. He struck out four batters using his curveball and the other two with the four-seam fastball. The Angel hardest hit ball of the day had a 109.6 exit velocity, traveling 402 feet, resulting in a Taylor Ward double.

Expectations:

Lodolo returning from a leg injury gives me little to worry about “re-injury” risk, considering it was a broken bone. This is the year we see a breakout from Lodolo. He is mixing his pitches well to start the year and using his mid-90s fastball 49.1% of the time, followed by his curveball 30.4%, Changeup 13.5%, and his sinker seven percent of the time. He already has two wins on the year and has gone into or past the fifth inning in both starts. He currently sits in the fourth spot in the rotation behind Andrew Abbott and ahead of Graham Ashcraft as it sits right now. With his stuff and facing other teams in the middle of the middle-of-the-rotation arms, Lodolo will likely see increased support from the bats. If he can continue mixing things up the way he has, Lodolo, if healthy all year, could lead this team in around 13-15 wins simply due to matchup favorability. He currently has a clean record of two wins and no losses. He has a 0.75 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP after 12 innings of work with 16 strikeouts, one walk, and eight hits. I like what I have seen so far from Lodolo and am excited to see him pitch every fifth day from here on out; he might be one of the National League’s better arms when the year is out!

Wrap Up:

Lodolo’s next start will be against the Philadelphia Phillies at home on April 24th. He will be a matchup against Spencer Turnbull, who, like Lodolo, has two wins and zero losses on the season. Turnbull has a 1.23 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP over 22 innings of work. This will be Lodolo’s toughest test yet. The Phillies have a team batting average of .237 with 79 runs scored, 24 home runs, and a .380 slugging percentage.

To make matters worse, the Phillies have already had 252 at-bats against left-hand pitchers this year. They have a .274 batting average, 69 hits, ten doubles, eight home runs, 36 RBIs, 31 walks, and struck out 65 times against southpaws this year. This will be a tough matchup for Lodolo, but I expect him to see between seven and nine strikeouts on the day. Lodolo is a guy. I will try to tune in each turn in the rotation regardless of what’s going on. I view him right now as someone who must watch when on the mound for the Reds. I think he extended his winning streak to three with a win on April 24th at home. Lodolo will push Frankie Montas for the team lead in wins this year and might be the team’s best pitcher when it’s all said and done!

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