Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Cincinnati Reds 2020 Season Preview



         Yesterday's season preview was the new and improved White Sox. However, no team improved more than the Reds this offseason. They dished out big deals to improve their lineup and pitching staff. Playing in a tough NL Central, it will not be easy for the Reds to jump up in the standings.

         Offseason additions: IF Mike Moustakas, OF Nick Castellanos, OF Shogo Akiyama, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Justin Shafer, OF Travis Jankowski, RHP Nate Jones, RHP Tyler Thornburg, IF Matt Davidson.

         Offseason subtractions: IF Jose Peraza, SS Jose Iglesias, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP David Hernandez.

         Rotation
The Reds have their ace in Luis Castillo, a 27 year old with a hard fastball. Castillo made his first all-star team in 2019, striking out 226 batters with a 3.40 ERA in 190.2 innings. However, he also allowed 22 home runs and walked 79 batters. Sonny Gray was an all-star for the first time since 2015. He allowed just 6.3 hits per nine innings, striking out 205 batters with a 2.87 ERA in 175.1 innings. The Reds traded Taylor Trammell, one of their top prospects, at the deadline in a package for Trevor Bauer. Bauer was awful in Cincinnati, making 10 starts with a 6.39 ERA. Overall, Bauer made 34 starts with a 4.48 ERA and 253 strikeouts in 213 innings. He is a free agent after the season. Anthony DeSclafani has had issues staying on the field. He made 31 starts in 2019, his most since he made the same number of starts in 2015. He struck out 167 batters in 166.2 innings with a solid 3.89 ERA. He will be a good 4th starter. The Reds have Wade Miley $15 million over two years to be their 5th starter. A journeyman lefty, Miley had a 3.98 ERA in 33 starts for the Astros last season. He is the only Reds starter with less strikeouts than innings pitched last year.

         Bullpen
Former starter Raisel Iglesias had his worst season yet as Reds closer. While his 34 saves were as career high, his 4.16 ERA was a tick higher than his 2015 starting numbers. On the plus side, Iglesias' 12 K/9 ratio was a career high. His 8.2 hits per nine was a career worst. So was his 1.224 WHIP. It was a drama filled season for Amir Garrett, topped with some fights, including his man vs everybody performance against the Pirates late in the season. On the field, Garrett had a career season. He had a 3.21 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 56 innings. His main issue is the walks. He walked 5.6 batters per nine innings. Michael Lorenzen has gained traction as a two-way player. As a pitcher, Lorenzen had a 2.92 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 83.1 innings, with seven saves. He played in 100 games total. His outfield numbers are not good. He hit one homer with a .581 OPS in 53 Plate Appearances. Entering 2019, Pedro Strop had gone five consecutive seasons with a sub-3 ERA, and seven out of eights seasons. He bombed with the Cubs last year, with a 4.97 ERA in 41.2 innings. His 10 saves was the second most of his career to 2018, and his 10.6 K/9 was his most since 2016. Now 34, Strop will have to work his way up from a middle relief role. Robert Stephenson had a career season, with a 3.76 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. Justin Shafer pitched in 39.2 innings for Toronto last year. He struck out 39 batters with a 3.86 ERA. Non-roster invitee Nate Jones is always hurt. In his first eight seasons, all with the White Sox, Jones had a 3.12 ERA with 318 strikeouts in 291.1 innings. The final spot could be between Cody Reed and Lucas Sims. Reed, a lefty, played in just three games last year, allowing one run in 6.1 innings. Sims is more of a swingman. In 24 games (4 starts) Sims had a 4.60 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 43 games.

           Catchers
Tucker Barnhart is more of a defensive catcher. But, he hit a career high 11 home runs in 2019. He still had an 82 OPS+, and his total extra-base hits was his lowest since his 81 game 2015 season. Curt Casali hit eight home runs with a .251 average and .741 OPS. While he hit more home runs than he did in 2018, everything else seemed to get worse offensively.

            Infielders
Former MVP and six time all-star Joey Votto is not at his best anymore. He walked 76 times last year, his first time in a full season not walking at least 100 times since 2012, when his 94 walks still led the league. His .357 OBP was the worst of his career. So was his .768 OPS. He struck out 123 times, his most since 2015. His 15 home runs was more than his 2018 total, but his power seems to be gone. 2020 might actually be Votto's last shot at the playoffs while he is still a league average player. The Reds gave Mike Moustakas $64 million over four years to play second base. Moustakas played second base for the first time in the MLB in 2019, playing 47 games for the Brewers. Moustakas hit 35 home runs with a career high .845 OPS. That was due to a .329 OBP, the second best of his career. Freddy Galvis had 18 home runs in 115 games for the Blue Jays when the Reds claimed him off waivers late last year. Galvis struggled afterwards, with five homers in 32 games with a .696 OPS. His 23 total homers were a career high. Eugenio Suarez had an insane season that went mostly unrecognized. Suarez hit 49 home runs, the most ever for a Venezuelan. However, he struck out a league leading 189 times. He had a .930 OPS and a .572 slugging percentage. Kyle Farmer played in 97 games at six positions, including pitcher and catcher. Farmer hit nine home runs with a .410 slugging percentage. He walked just 10 times in 197 Plate Appearances.

               Outfielders
The Reds might have eight MLB outfielders. The team gave Nick Castellanos a four year, $64 million deal. Castellanos hit a career high 27 home runs with an .863 OPS. His 58 doubles with the Tigers and Cubs lead the MLB. He took off after a trade deadline deal to Chicago. He hit 16 home runs with 21 doubles in 51 games, with a 1.002 OPS. The team gave 31 year old Shogo Akiyama $21 million over three years for him to come over from Japan. Akiyama hit .303 with a .864 OPS and 20 home runs for the Saitama Seibu Lions last year. Former top prospect Nick Senzel made his league debut. An infielder that was moved to center field, Senzel hit 12 home runs with a .742 OPS in a mediocre 104 game season. Jesse Winker has a .285 average with an .845 OPS in his three year career. He hit a career high 16 homers last year. Aristides "The Punisher" Aquino pummeled baseballs, hitting 19 home runs in 56 games. With the Reds' crowded infield, he isn't even a guarantee to make the team. He also stole seven bases with an .891 OPS. Scott Schebler hit 30 home runs in 2017, but hit .123 with a .475 OPS in 30 games last year. Phil Ervin had a career high .271 average and .791 OPS in 94 games, with an OPS+ over 100 for the first time last year.

               Projected Opening Day Lineup
CF Shogo Akiyama (L)
1B Joey Votto (L)
3B Eugenio Suarez (R)
2B Mike Moustakas (L)
RF Nick Castellanos (R)
LF Jesse Winker (L)
SS Freddy Galvis (S)
C Tucker Barnhart (L)
Pitcher

                Projected Rotation
Luis Castillo (R)
Sonny Gray (R)
Trevor Bauer (R)
Anthony DeSclafani (R)
Wade Miley (L)

                Projected Bullpen
Raisel Iglesias, closer (R)
Amir Garrett (L)
Michael Lorenzen (R)
Pedro Strop (R)
Robert Stephenson (R)
Justin Shafer (R)
Nate Jones (R)
Cody Reed (L)

                 Projected Bench
CF Nick Senzel (R)
C Curt Casali (R)
OF Aristides Aquino (R)
OF Phil Ervin (R)
UT Kyle Farmer (R)

                 Prediction
The Reds are a much better team than they were last year. Their rotation is complete, their bullpen is alright, and their lineup can mash. They will finish 2nd in the NL Central, but ultimately fall short of a playoff birth.

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