Lorenzen said Wednesday that he will report to Cincinnati's spring training as a starting pitcher, and he expects to be a full-time member of the rotation in 2021, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Like most pitching prospects, Lorenzen was developed as a starter during his minor-league career, and he made 21 starts during his first season in the majors in 2015 before converting to a bullpen role. The 28-year-old has been mostly dependable in that capacity the past five seasons, but he showed some renewed signs of promise as a starter in September when called upon to fill in for the injured Sonny Gray. Lorenzen covered 9.2 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out 14 over his two spot starts, and the pair of strong performances apparently convinced him to pursue a return to the rotation. Cincinnati is still expected to try and re-sign ace Trevor Bauer or perhaps pursue more affordable arms this offseason, so Lorenzen will still likely need to impress in spring training to ensure he breaks camp in a starting role.
Lorenzen will be under consideration to start for the Reds next season, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. There could be two openings in the Reds rotation, as both Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani are free agents. Lorenzen finished the season in a hybrid role for the Reds, making two spot starts along with a number of longer relief outings. "I think he set himself up to be looked at next year as a possible solution for our starting five," Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson said. "I know he wants to do that, and I don't think it's been any secret that he wants to do that. He's put himself in that position to potentially do that. I think there is some competition there for him."
Lorenzen has found a niche in long relief and occasional spot starts, including a 3.1-inning outing Friday against the Twins in which he earned the win. He finished the regular season with mediocre ratios (4.28 ERA, 1.40 WHIP), though most of the damage came in the first few weeks of the campaign. He'll continue in a relief role in the first round of the playoffs against the Braves, as the Reds will be able to run out their top three starters in Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray for the three-game series.
Lorenzen allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out eight over 4.2 innings in a no-decision against the White Sox on Sunday. Cincinnati put up five runs in the bottom of the fourth, making it a 5-0 game. Lorenzen gave two runs back the next half inning and manager David Bell pulled Lorenzen at 93 pitches, when he was one out short of qualifying for the win. He probably won't get another start with the Reds playing six games next week and Sonny Gray (back) slated to return Tuesday, but Lorenzen is very much back on track. The right-hander has a 1.80 ERA in his last 25 innings after opening the season with a 16.88 ERA in his first seven appearances.
Lorenzen (2-1) recorded the win Tuesday versus Pittsburgh after giving up one run on four hits with six strikeouts and zero walks across five innings. The 28-year-old received his first start since 2018 with Sonny Gray (back) on the injured list and performed well, inducing 15 swinging strikes on 76 pitches. Lorenzen has a 4.56 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 23:14 K:BB over 25.2 innings and seems likely to return to the bullpen role despite the strong showing as a spot starter.
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