Cinicinnati Reds 2020 Season Preview 2.0

       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.

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. His fastball averages more than 96 miles per hour, but he uses his change-up more often to get soft contact. That change-up struck out 155 batters with a .199 slugging against last year. 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. His curveball, which has a 2988 rpm spin rate, held opponents to a .131 batting average. 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. The outspoken pitcher throws six pitches, mostly his fastball. The heater was crushed last year, allowing 20 home runs. 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. Opponents had an expected batting average of .238, a career best for DeSclafani. He will be a good 4th starter. The Reds gave 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. He makes up for that and his 90.8 mph fastball with a potent change-up, which had an exit velocity against of just 82.3. Tyler Mahle started in 25 games last year, striking out 129 batters in 129.2 innings.

Former starter Raisel Iglesias had his worst season yet as Reds closer. While his 34 saves were a 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. Iglesias abandoned his sinker, his most common pitch in 2018. He went from using it 31.8% to 10.6% of the time. It was a drama filled season for Amir Garrett, topped with some fights, including his Amir Garrett vs the world 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. Garrett\’s most common pitch is his slider, which was 58% of his pitches. That pitch had an elite whiff rate of 54.3%. 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. He throws a fastball averaging over 97 miles per hour, but educes very soft contact, with an 84.5 mph average. 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. He might have been baseball\’s most underrated reliever last year, with an expected ERA of 2.70, a slider with a whiff rate of 52.1%, and an expected slugging of .311. Matt Bowman excels at allowing soft contact, with a career average exit velocity against of 84.8 mph. He had a 3.66 ERA in 27 games last year. Justin Shafer pitched in 39.2 innings for Toronto last year. He struck out 39 batters with a 3.86 ERA. His fastball has an above average spin rate of 2460 rpm. 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. His once-potent slider has became more hit-able. A pitch with an average against under .100 in 2015 and 2016, batters hit .273 against Jones\’ slider in 2019. Cody Reed and Lucas Sims will fight for the final spot when rosters revert to 26. 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.

Tucker Barnhart 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. He hit fastballs well, with a .528 slugging against the pitch. 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.

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. Votto had an average of under .200 against off-speed pitches and breaking balls. 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. He also had a career high in barrel percentage, with 10.3%. 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. He had 11 outs above average at shortstop and one at second base. 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, with a high 14% barrel 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, and struck in 30.3% of them.

The Reds might have eight MLB outfielders, and they have 10 on the 40-man roster. 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 big 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. His most impressive stat was his 29.4 ft/s sprint speed. Jesse Winker has a .285 average with an .845 OPS in his three year career. He hit a career high 16 homers last year. In 2018, his walk rate was actually higher than his K rate. Aristides \”The Punisher\” Aquino pummeled baseballs, hitting 19 home runs in 56 games. With the Reds\’ crowded outfield, he might not 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. His exit velocity decreased from 90.2 in 2018 to 86.5 mph. 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 Nicholas Castellanos (R)
DH Jesse Winker (L)
LF Aristedes Aquino (R)
SS Freddy Galvis (S)
C Tucker Barnhart (L)

       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)
Matt Bowman (R)
Nate Jones (R)
Cody Reed (L)
Lucas Sims (R)
Tyler Mahle (R)

       Projected Bench
C Curt Casali (R)
CF Nick Senzel (R)
OF Scott Schebler (L)
UT Kyle Farmer (R)
OF Phil Ervin (R)

Baseball-Reference OOTP Simulator Stats
38-48 record, 4th in NL Central
Most home runs: Nicholas Castellanos (18)
Highest batting average: Jesse Winker (.275)
Highest OPS: Jesse Winker (.867)
Best ERA, starters: Trevor Bauer (3.43)
Best ERA, relievers: Cody Reed (2.88)
Most innings pitched: Sonny Gray (111.2)
Most strikeouts: Trevor Bauer (129)
Best K/9: Robert Stephenson (15.4)

Record through 60 games, last five seasons:
2019: 28-32
2018: 21-39
2017: 29-31
2016: 22-38
2015: 28-32

The Reds made major improvements this offseason. Their rotation might be the best in the division, and their bullpen is also in the top-3. The lineup looks potent now, and they have plenty of outfielders to spare. The Reds have leap-frogged the Cubs in the NL Central power rankings. The Brewers lost just about everyone except for Christian Yelich, and the Cardinals are doomed for a setback. I think that the Reds will finish 2nd in the NL Central, and just barely make the playoffs.

Published by carterhud SI Kids Kid Reporter, Prime Time Sports Talk writer

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