Advertisement

Nick Lodolo's return from the injured list is just in time as the Reds beat the Cardinals

When Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Nick Lodolo went on the injured list with a groin strain on May 15, he expected that he’d only miss the minimum amount of time before returning to the Reds’ rotation. Even though he was confident, Lodolo hadn’t proven yet that he’d be able to make such a quick comeback.

In April of 2022, Lodolo expected that he’d miss the minimum 12 days due to a back injury. He ended up being out for two months. The same thing happened in April of 2023, when a calf injury went from a minor setback to a season-ending injury.

Lodolo’s injury history made his quick return from the injured list and his performance on Monday even more meaningful. In a 3-1 win for the Reds over the St. Louis Cardinals, Lodolo allowed just one run in 5 ⅓ innings.

"It definitely feels good," Lodolo said. "It's been a struggle for the last year for me just to get to where I'm at. I'm happy with it. And at the end of the day, I have another (start) here in six days."

Nick Lodolo returned from the injured list and allowed only one run, a solo homer in the first inning by Paul Goldschmidt, on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Nick Lodolo returned from the injured list and allowed only one run, a solo homer in the first inning by Paul Goldschmidt, on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter.

Lodolo didn’t even have his sharpest game against the Reds’ division rival. The Cardinals were very patient against his breaking ball, and Lodolo only struck out three batters. So Lodolo adjusted.

Reds home run celebration The Reds pay tribute to the retired Viking home run celebration

Reds schedule NL Central Why Cincinnati Reds' last best chance to rise from ashes could come in next 31 games

Reds automated strike zone Oh, the humanity! Why MLB needs to scrap plans for automated ump system | Press Box Wag

He leaned more on his fastball and forced a lot of weak contact. Lodolo also threw a lot more changeups than he usually does, capitalizing on the development of a pitch that he has been steadily improving over the last three years.

"He was really sharp," Reds left fielder Jacob Hurtubise said. "Sometimes, you don't know what you're going to get after a guy is out for a couple of weeks. He looks just as good as he did early on in the season."

Lodolo has a pretty clear cut track record in MLB: When he’s healthy, he’s a standout pitcher. Monday’s win over the Cardinals was more of the same, and he finished the game with a 3.12 ERA this year.

Going on the injured list helped Lodolo be sure that he wasn't risking a more significant injury. He learned that lesson from his experience last season, when he tried to pitch through his calf injury.

"I thought it was a little injury last year and pushed, and I put us in a spot where I wasn't good at all," Lodolo said. "(Going on the injured list this year) was the right thing to do. I'm definitely happy it was the minimum time."

Nick Lodolo struck out only three batters but coaxed a lot of weak contact. Here second baseman Jonathan India hauls in a pop-up.
Nick Lodolo struck out only three batters but coaxed a lot of weak contact. Here second baseman Jonathan India hauls in a pop-up.

Reds manager David Bell said that Lodolo might have been able to pitch through the injury and avoid a stint on the injured list, but the Reds wanted to make the same move. Lodolo missed the entire 2023 season with left calf tenosynovitis, which is a tricky injury without much precedent among MLB pitchers.

The groin injury could have been a cause for concern for a pitcher who had just come back from a significant lower body injury. But Lodolo keeps answering questions about his durability with impressive starts.

"We knew this particular injury was not going to keep him out long," Bell said. "Having him on the mound, it helps our team. The more he pitches, the better he's going to get. For Nick, who's still a young pitcher, it's important for him to be out there."

Reds third baseman Jeimer Candelario got the Reds on the board with a solo home run in the first inning on Monday, and outfielders Will Benson and Jacob Hurtubise drove in runs in the third inning as the Reds took a 3-1 lead.

Jeimer Candelario heads home after his solo home run in the bottom of the first inning tied the game 1-1. The Reds won 3-1 for their fourth straight victory for the first time this season.
Jeimer Candelario heads home after his solo home run in the bottom of the first inning tied the game 1-1. The Reds won 3-1 for their fourth straight victory for the first time this season.

The Reds continue to dig themselves out of the hole that they created in early May, and they won their fourth straight game with their victory on Monday. Now, they’re 24-30 and 7 1/2 games back in the NL Central race.

They’re entering a stretch of the schedule with a lot of games against division rivals and a lot of games against teams that aren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, and the Reds are getting their chance to claw back up in the standings.

"It feels great, but I'll say it again," Lodolo said. "Even though the month wasn't going great by any means, it never felt like we were out of the game. We were in every single game. We were a hit away. Things like that, even if we had a tight game, we'd give up one late. We were in every single game. The locker room felt like we were by no means way out of this. It was definitely a tough month, but there's nothing really that's changed from the team in the last four games. We're sticking to it."

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Nick Lodolo makes a timely return from the IL as Reds beat Cardinals