Baseball fans, it is about that time! The start of the MLB season is fast approaching and I think I can speak for everyone at Diamond Digest and say it cannot come any sooner. I am the lone writer at DD that covers the Cincinnati Reds and this season is not without anticipation. The Reds had quite a busy offseason and will look to revive themselves from irrelevancy.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
- LF Jesse Winker
- 3B Eugenio Suarez
- 1B Joey Votto
- 2B Scooter Gennett
- RF Yasiel Puig
- CF Scott Schebler
- SS Jose Peraza
- C Tucker Barnhart
- P Luis Castillo
2019 Reds Projected Rotation
- Raisel Iglesias
- Michael Lorenzen
- Jared Hughes
- Wandy Peralta
- David Hernandez
- Zach Duke
- Amir Garrett
- Sal Romano
The Cincinnati Reds are celebrating their 150th Anniversary of becoming a professional baseball team. Throughout the year, they will wear commemorative patches on their caps and jerseys and they will also wear 15 different throwback uniforms during the course of the regular season. It is going to be cool to see and relive the history of baseball’s oldest franchise.
The blockbuster trade between the Reds and Dodgers in December started a new fire in the organization and many fans are anxious to see the new-look Cincinnati Reds take the field on March 28th. The team acquired Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer in the trade and three of those players are Opening Day roster locks.
Reds nation as a whole is ecstatic about Yasiel Puig wearing a Reds uniform. The Cuban born player will look to redeem himself after falling off a little bit after his meteoric rise to stardom in his rookie season. He has put together decent numbers throughout his career, but nothing like many of us expected. Cincinnati is the perfect environment for him to shine and he will look to give the Reds a much needed boost this season. Puig has had a stellar spring, so hopefully this momentum carries into the regular season.
Many fans were happy to see Homer Bailey leave town and I would like to include myself in that statement. I’m not one to discourage a man for not performing as well as expected, but Bailey just seemed like he didn’t want to be in Cincinnati anymore. His contract was a huge burden for Cincinnati, but now the organization is able to look for more options to help the team.
Luis Castillo was just named the Opening Day starter for the Reds. After a rough 2018 campaign, Castillo looks to produce like he did in 2017. At times, he showed that he was capable of being near the top of the rotation in the back half of the 2018 season, but the year as a whole was a disappointment. Now that he has a full year under his belt, he can use that experience to his advantage to become the pitcher that we know he can be.
One of the most encouraging parts about the upcoming season is the highly anticipated arrival of Nick Senzel to the MLB. The Reds are in a little bit of a predicament with him though. He is a 3B/2B, but those spots are secured at the moment. This offseason, Senzel has been working on his game in the OF, particularly in CF. Center Field is the position that the Reds are in the biggest need of in the lineup at the moment, as the club does not have a designated player for the position. There are reports saying that Senzel may be on the Opening Day roster, but I personally don’t think that is happening. I think the Reds are going to get that extra year of control and wait just a couple of weeks for his call-up.
Many would call Joey Votto’s 2018 season a down-year for the Reds star and Votto himself even called last year “frustrating”. He still had a respectable batting average of .284 and still led the NL in OBP at .417, although he only hit 13 home runs. He has made some adjustments to his swing in the offseason and is confident that he will bounce back. Obviously, age is a concern for Votto (35), but I think we could see Votto return to MVP form. If he is healthy and mentally focused, which it sounds like he is, I think we are in for a treat this season.
There were reports that Scooter Gennett was not happy about not getting an extension in the offseason. Hopefully that does not affect his play this season, because he has performed tremendously for the Reds in the last two seasons. He has hit 50 HR and had a slash line of .303/.351/.508 in the last two seasons and hopefully we will see more of the same in the 2019 season. Gennett was picked up on the waiver wire at the start of the 2017 season and the Reds struck gold when they made the acquisition.
Eugenio Suarez has played his last four seasons in Cincinnati, but last year was his best season, by far. He hit 34 HR and had a slash line of .283/.366/.526. He was an All-Star for the first time in his career, as was his teammate Scooter Gennett. Suarez is only 27 years old, so look for him to build onto what has been a good start to his career.
Much like Suarez, Jose Peraza had his best season in 2018. Peraza is not going to wow you with his offensive numbers, but he is a decent contact hitter and he is also an above-average runner. The Reds don’t need him to be a star on offense this season, but it obviously would not hurt. He had a batting average of .288 last season and he only struck out 75 times. I am not expecting a much-improved year for Peraza at the plate, but he is only 24 years old, so a breakout offensive year could be on the horizon.
Over Spring Training, a player that has gained a lot of attention is Phil Ervin. He has all but played his way onto the 25-man roster with his superb play this spring. The Reds are crowded in the outfield at the moment and Ervin is another corner outfielder taking up roster space, but it appears that he will be in the big leagues on Opening Day. He is capable of playing CF, but it isn’t his familiar position. Look for Nick Senzel to take his spot once he is eligible for another year of play.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Reds added some much-needed pitching to their rotation. Reds starting pitching allowed the most runs in the NL in 2018, but hopefully this will not be the case in 2019. The Reds added Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and Sonny Gray to the starting rotation, so fans cannot say that the front office didn’t try to improve the pitching. Roark is a guy that can eat up innings, and if he can produce like he did in the 2016 season, then the Reds may have gotten a steal. The same goes for Sonny Gray. Last season, Gray had one of his worst seasons as a major leaguer, but he is not incapable of putting together a solid season. In the 2013-15 seasons, he posted an ERA of 2.88. Gray is only 29 years old, so he is more than capable of putting together a few more good seasons. The Reds have him locked in until 2023.
The Reds added some big rotation pieces this offseason, but it was not the case for their bullpen. Zach Duke was the biggest name added to the bullpen and it looks like he will be the only newly acquired bullpen arm that will make the Opening Day roster. Their bullpen was very average last season, but this season will be different. Many of the bullpen guys have an extra year of experience. Two of the biggest arms in the bullpen will be Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett. Lorenzen made a name for himself last season for his hitting ability, but he isn’t a bad pitcher either. He is only 27 years old, and his ERA last season was 3.11. Garrett had a superb start in the 2018 season, but performed poorly in the middle portion of the season. Garrett is only 26 years old, so he still has a great deal of potential. Jared Hughes will also look to maintain the stellar season he had last year. He posted a 1.94 ERA.
The Reds haven’t made the postseason since 2013 and this season feels like it could be a special year for Cincinnati. I am not going to predict what I think will happen with the Reds this season, but I think they could be a team that many of us are talking about in September. The NL Central is arguably the toughest division in the MLB, so it will not be an easy road to the Postseason. The Reds finished the 2018 season with a 67-95 record, but I felt like they were a better team than their record showed. With improved pitching and more security on offense, I think they are poised to win right now.
Below is a link to an old Cincinnati Reds inspired song that I hope you will enjoy.