Reds starter Nick Lodolo was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left tibia earlier this week, writes Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be in a walking boot and go for another MRI in a couple weeks.
Lodolo was already placed on the 15-day injured list over the weekend. At the time, the club announced his injury as calf tendinitis. The Reds provided a one-month return timetable on Sunday, though it seems likely the revelation of the stress reaction will delay his return further. Manager David Bell told the club’s beat a more definitive recovery timeline won’t be clear until Lodolo’s follow-up imaging two weeks from now.
The 25-year-old southpaw is among the most important players in the organization. Lodolo and fellow top prospect Hunter Greene both made the season-opening rotation in 2022. Each impressed as rookies, enough so in Greene’s case the Reds signed him to the second-largest extension for a pitcher with between one and two years of major league service. Lodolo hasn’t inked the same kind of deal, though his camp reportedly had some conversations with Cincinnati brass about that possibility last month.
It had been a mixed season for Lodolo even prior to the injury. He’s been tagged for a 6.29 ERA over 34 1/3 innings through his first seven starts. That’s largely attributable to a staggering 10 home runs allowed (2.62 HR/9). The home run ball wasn’t an issue for Lodolo during his debut season, though, and he’s shown strong strikeout and walk numbers during year two. The TCU product has fanned 28.3% of opponents behind a strong 12.9% swinging strike percentage while cutting his walk rate from 8.8% to 6%.
Lodolo, Greene and Graham Ashcraft had been locked into rotation spots if healthy. With Lodolo out for a notable chunk of time, Cincinnati called up Brandon Williamson to make his MLB debut yesterday. Lodolo’s college teammate fared well in his first start, throwing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball at Coors Field. Nightengale writes that Williamson is expected to remain in the rotation, joining Greene, Ashcraft and Luke Weaver.
For the fifth spot, the Reds appear likely to turn to righty Ben Lively. The 31-year-old has come out of the bullpen twice, combining for 5 1/3 frames, since being selected to replace Luis Cessa on the roster a little over a week ago. Nightengale writes that Lively will get the start on Friday against the Yankees, pushing him into the role he manned for Triple-A Louisville. He’d started four of five appearances with the Bats, working to a 2.33 ERA despite a middling 15.2% strikeout rate. His start will be his first at the big league level since 2018, when he took the ball five times for the Phillies.