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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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Starting pitcher Connor Overton was announced as the Reds' fourth starter on Friday, and will start the first game against the Chicago Cubs in the second home series of the season.
Starting pitcher Connor Overton was announced as the Reds' fourth starter on Friday, and will start the first game against the Chicago Cubs in the second home series of the season.

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.”

Luis Cessa  returned to Reds camp when Mexico advanced to the semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic because he knew he needed to build up his innings to earn a spot in the Reds rotation..
Luis Cessa returned to Reds camp when Mexico advanced to the semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic because he knew he needed to build up his innings to earn a spot in the Reds rotation..

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.