Reds look to retake the central

Is this the year Cincinnati can snap out of the perpetual losing?


New year, same team?

For the last four years, the Cincinnati Reds have been in the category of “rebuilding”. The last four years have been ugly in which the Reds have lost more than 85 games in each. But this year the Reds look to finally break the bad streak of losing.

First off, the NL Central is competitive as ever. The Chicago Cubs are the favorites to win the division again. With players like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Wilson Contreras and Jason Heyward in the lineup, it is a no brainer that they can put up big numbers. The Cubs have a veteran rotation with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and newly signed Yu Darvish. They will look to compete with the Brewers and Cardinals for division crown.

The Milwaukee Brewers were a surprise team last year. Even though they did not make the playoffs, they showed they can be competitive in 2018. Players like Ryan Braun, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Christian Yelich, and Lorenzo Cain will bring an impressive lineup to the plate. The weak spot of the team could be the rotation. The rotation might look like this: Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, and Wade Miley. There could be some openings available.

The St. Louis Cardinals are a team that can go good or bad. After not making the playoffs last year for the second straight year, the Cardinals will look to lean on some young guys. Players like Tommy Pham, Luke Weaver, and Paul DeJong will all be on the 25 man roster. They have a good shot of competing with the Cubs if they can get the bats swinging.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are team that has been going downhill. The Pirates have not made the playoffs in three seasons and the big name players are moving on. Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen was traded to the Giants and ace pitcher Gerrit Cole was sent to the Houston Astros. Cincinnatian Josh Harrison has said that he would like a trade. The Pirates will have a tough time this year trying to compete with the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals.

That brings us to our beloved Cincinnati Reds. In my opinion, I feel like this could be a breakthrough year for the local boys. With some new talent up and running, it may spark an exciting season. However, the success of the season all depends on the pitching. Click this LINK to see an interactive graphic I created along with Mr. Rogers to show the important players for this season.

There are three locks for the rotation. Homer Bailey, Anthony Desclafani, and Luis Castillo. Bailey and Desclafani are finally healthy and should be the leaders of the rotation. Luis Castillo is a star in the making, after having a good first year last season. Castillo started 15 games, had a 3.12 era, and finished eighth in the NL rookie of the year voting only playing half a season.

That leaves two spots open. Players battling for a spot are Sal Ramano, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Tyler Mahle, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson. In my opinion, Mahle and Finnegan are the favorites. Finnegan brings the experience, even though he is only 25 years old. When on his game, Finnegan brings the energy and power with his fastball.

The other favorite I think is Tyler Mahle. If you listen to any Reds game when Mahle is pitching, the announcers always talk about his mechanics. Out of all of these pitchers, Mahle checks off every box. He has control of his pitches, he can locate the ball, and he has a repeatable windup and delivery. Yet Mahle is only 23 years old. In four games last year, Mahle had an impressive 2.70 era.

One of the most overlooked categories in baseball is the bullpen. If you want to win ball games (especially late in games), you need reliable relievers. This past winter the Reds signed Jared Hughes, Kyle Crockett, Vance Worley, and David Hernandez. Some of these were minor league deals, which means the player has to make the team out of spring training.

The Reds bullpen will look to gain confidence after last year. We know how last year’s bullpen went, good early but then ran out of energy due to the lack of innings by the starters. For the second straight year, Raisel Iglesias will be the closer. Wandy Peralta, Ariel Hernandez, and Kevin Shackelford are the others looking for the open spots in the bullpen.

One problem this team does not have is offense. In 2017, the Reds had six players that hit over 20 homeruns. Joey Votto will lead the offense at first base once again. Many people said Votto should have won the MVP award last year. Second base is locked up to Scooter Gennett. Gennett had a memorable first season with the Reds last year, after being claimed on waivers a few days before Opening Day. Gennett contributed 27 home runs and 97 RBI’s last year.

Shortstop will likely be Jose Peraza, who disappointed many people last season. During 2017, he hit .259/.297/.324 with 37 RBI’s. Third base belongs to Eugenio Suarez, who is coming off a really good year at the plate and in the field. Suarez smashed 26 home runs and knocked in 82 RBI’s. He has also defined himself as a gold glove candidate on the corner.

Reds manager Bryan Price came out and said there will be a four man rotation in the outfield. Those four are Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker. All four of these players deserve to play and they will. Hamilton needs to have a good year at the plate so he can show he is a long term option in the Queen City.

Overall, this could be an exciting year for the Red Legs. With some new and returning stars, there is a lot to look forward too. As for predictions, I don’t like them but I will do one. I think the Reds will win 75 games this season. Fingers crossed!