Ashcraft's 2023 Season Comes to an End as Surgery Looms, Missing Postseason (1)

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Ashcraft’s 2023 Season Comes to an End as Surgery Looms, Missing Postseason

The Cincinnati Reds will have to face the postseason push without key starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft, who is set to undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday to address a stress reaction in his right big toe.

Manager David Bell expressed sympathy for Ashcraft, acknowledging that it’s a situation beyond his control. However, Bell emphasized that Ashcraft would have ample time to recover and prepare for Spring Training after the surgery.

Despite being sidelined for nearly three weeks and placed on the 60-day injured list, Ashcraft was among the Reds’ most reliable starters in a challenging season for the rotation. He finished the year with a 7-9 record and a 4.76 ERA across 26 starts, including a strong stretch of 4-3 with a 2.58 ERA over his final 12 starts, featuring 10 quality outings.

Ashcraft’s season had its ups and downs. After an impressive start with a 2.00 ERA over his first six appearances, he struggled in the following 12, going 1-6 with a 12.82 ERA. His stint on the injured list from May 7 to June 24 due to a left calf contusion allowed him to physically and mentally reset, resulting in improved performance since the end of June.

Graham Ashcraft fans five Aug 27, 2023 · 0:22 Graham Ashcraft fans five Photo Cradit: mlb.com

Cincinnati’s Starting Pitching Challenges Continue as the Season Nears Its End

Throughout the season, the Cincinnati Reds have defied conventional wisdom by remaining in contention despite their starting pitching staff being the weakest link of the club. As of Monday, the Reds’ rotation ranked 28th in Major League Baseball with a 5.40 ERA, a glaring weakness they’ve had to overcome. In fact, they’ve had to employ a club-record 17 different starters in 2023, tying the National League lead with the Dodgers and second overall behind the A’s, who have used 23 starters.

The lone survivor from the Reds’ original starting five is Hunter Greene, as injuries and underperformance have taken a toll. Nick Lodolo has been sidelined with a left tibia stress reaction since mid-May, while Connor Overton sustained a right elbow injury in April and underwent Tommy John surgery. Luis Cessa struggled and was released on May 14.

Presently, the Reds are relying on a mix of starters, including Greene, rookies Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson, and versatile veteran Ben Lively. To bolster the rotation, they called up rookie Connor Phillips from Triple-A Louisville for a start against the Twins on Monday.

With three off-days scheduled over the final two weeks of the regular season, Cincinnati may opt to stick with a four-man rotation as manager David Bell pieces together his pitching staff in the hunt for an NL Wild Card spot. However, the past few weeks have seen several Reds starters failing to pitch deep into games, with nine of the 13 starts since September 3 lasting four innings or less.

Bell acknowledged the importance of getting more length from the starters, recognizing that overreliance on the bullpen could take a toll. With just ten games remaining in the regular season, the Reds find themselves in a playoff-like scenario and will need all hands on deck to secure a postseason berth.

Reference:

https://www.mlb.com/news/graham-ashcraft-to-receive-surgery-on-toe-miss-rest-of-season

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/09/reds-graham-ashcraft-scheduled-for-season-ending-toe-surgery.html

https://www.si.com/fannation/mlb/fastball/injuries/cincinnati-reds-lose-another-starting-pitcher-as-graham-ashcraft-is-out-for-the-rest-of-the-season-with-a-toe-injury

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