Cincinnati Reds set starting rotation after latest round of roster cuts
GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The Cincinnati Reds finalized one of their major camp competitions and set their starting rotation to begin the season.
The first three starters were known all offseason: Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. The final two starters, announced Friday, are Connor Overton and Luis Cessa. Greene will start Opening Day, followed by Lodolo and Ashcraft against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Overton and Cessa will start the first two games of the Reds’ home series versus the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds cut starting pitching candidates Brandon Williamson and Chase Anderson from Major League camp Friday, along with infielder Matt Reynolds. Chad Pinder, a candidate to serve in a bench role, was released.
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It felt like Cessa had the inside track for a job in the starting rotation at the beginning of camp. He didn’t pitch as much as expected in the World Baseball Classic, which put his spot in jeopardy, but he returned to Reds camp when Mexico advanced to the semifinal because he knew he needed to build up his innings.
Luke Weaver, another starter who had an inside track to a job, will start the season on the injured list after he felt forearm discomfort in a minor league start. He may not be out long and is scheduled to pitch in Saturday's spring training game.
Overton, 29, carried a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings last season, though he missed most of the season with a back injury. He struggled at the start of spring training before showing better results with a simplified approach.
“(Overton) showed what he’s capable of last season,” Reds Manager David Bell said. “He had a significant injury and he worked extremely hard to get himself back. He was probably our most prepared pitcher coming into spring training from a physical standpoint. He had thrown the most and faced live hitters in the offseason. I think early on he tried to do too much and was almost too ready. He finally settled in. The last few times out, he’s shown what he’s capable of.”
Anderson could’ve opted out of his minor league contract Saturday because he wasn’t placed on the 40-man roster, but Bell said the 35-year-old pitcher plans to remain in the organization. Anderson will be used as a starter at Triple-A Louisville.
Williamson, who turns 25 on April 2, was hit around for nine runs by the Seattle Mariners in his last start and walked nine batters in 13 2/3 innings throughout the spring. He was the last player in big-league camp who had yet to make his Major League debut.
“He's getting better in the areas he needs to,” Bell said of Williamson. “We just thought it was the best decision for today and our team. He handled it well. He knows what he needs to go do. He's in a great spot here.”
The Reds will feature one of the most inexperienced rotations in the league. Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft are entering their second seasons. Overton has pitched 48 innings in the majors and Cessa has been used primarily as a reliever in his big-league career.
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Chad Pinder cut creates spot on bench
The Reds have 14 position players remaining in camp for 13 spots. Joey Votto remains uncertain for Opening Day, Bell said, but he’s played regularly in spring training games for nearly two weeks.
Pinder was thought to have an inside track to a spot on the roster because of his ability to hit lefthanded pitching and his defensive versatility, but the Reds are weighing other options to fill their bench.
“We have all the spots covered,” Bell said. “We may not have a profile exactly like Chad Pinder, but we have all the spots covered. For example, Wil Myers can play the outfield and first base. Tyler Stephenson can catch and play first base. Still don’t know exactly what Joey's status is going to be on Opening Day, so that's part of where we are right now. We still have guys in camp who can play multiple positions. Jason Vosler can play the corners. Henry Ramos plays all over the outfield and he can also play some first base.”
Pinder, who spent the last seven seasons with Oakland, had an opt-out clause in his minor league contract Saturday.
“Chad Pinder has a track record of being a good player,” Bell said. “He has versatility. Just an incredible person too. He’ll be missed. It just wasn’t the right roster fit is probably the best way to say it.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds set rotation, Connor Overton, after roster cuts