Feb. 21, 2018
Cincinnati Reds Season Preview
The MLB season is just 38 days away, and with only Spring Training remaining until Opening Day, I will take a look forward to my favorite teams season. I won't give away my prediction on how many games I think the Reds win in 2018, I will touch on the teams biggest question marks and potential storylines for the season.
1. Who will be the Reds no. 5 starter heading into this season?
-The Reds have a 7-8 person battle for the final rotation spot. Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, and Jackson Stephens are all believed to be in the mix. However, Stephenson and Lorenzen both came out of the bullpen a decent amount for the Reds last season so there's no doubt they should make the Opening Day roster, barring an unexpected injury. Romano and Mahle came on hot down the stretch last season, and they are my two favorites for the final spot heading into the season.
Who wins it? My bet is Sal Romano will win it, but if I was GM I'd give it to Mahle.
2. Do the Reds trade Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler, or Billy Hamilton?
-The Reds are stuck in a precarious spot, as their no.5 prospect and former 2012 first round draft pick Jesse Winker is ready to be an everyday outfielder. There's only one problem with that, the Reds already have three everyday outfielders. There's likely going to be a four man outfield rotation to begin the season, but that's likely not going to last all season. It's almost guaranteed that one of either Left fielder Adam Duvall, Center fielder Billy Hamilton, or Right fielder Scott Schebler is going to have to be traded at some point during the 2018 season. The Reds must debate the benefits of each player: Duvall is a tremendous power bat in the Reds lineup with 64 Home runs in the past two seasons, and he has a very low salary. Hamilton may be the fastest player in the MLB, and has gold glove potential in the outfield, but he has the highest price tag of the three. Schebler can do a little bit of both, with good power and slightly above average fielding ability, and he has the lowest price tag of these three.
Who Goes? Scott Schebler. To me this is an easy choice, Schebler is the least talented of the three. You could argue that the Reds should trade Hamilton or Duvall instead for a larger return, but neither of those guys seem easily replaceable unlike Schebler. The Reds could trade Schebler to a team in the playoff mix that lacks power in their lineup, and hopefully the Reds would net some young pitchers to potentially help their bullpen.
3. Should the Reds trade Raisel Iglesias or not?
-Iglesias appeared in 63 games out of the bullpen for the Reds last season, with a 2.49 ERA and 28 saves. This makes Iglesias by far the best pitcher in the Reds bullpen, maybe on the entire team in general. Iglesias is seen as an above average reliever/closer, and in the last few years demand for bullpen help heading into the trade deadline has been at an all-time high. This means the Reds could likely get serious return from a team if they trade Iglesias.
Should the Reds trade him? No, absolutely not. Iglesias is their only consistent arm coming out of the bullpen, and he's still under contract through the 2020 season. The Reds payroll is no longer as high as it used to be, due to a ton of trading players in the last two-three years. The Reds now have the young pieces to contend for an NL Wild Card spot sooner rather than later, and Iglesias is crucial to this teams chances of doing so.
4. When does Nick Senzel come up, and how does he fit into the mix?
-As the Reds no.1 prospect and the no.2 draft pick in 2016, Senzel is bound to be under a lot of pressure to perform. This shouldn't phase Senzel as he has batted .321 with 14 Home runs, and 65 RBI's in two seasons in the Minors. It's believed by some analysts that Senzel is the best batter from the 2016 draft class, and apparently he's no slouch in the field either. Even though Senzel is yet to play in Triple-A there's a pretty decent chance he sees time in the Majors this season.
Does Senzel come up, and when? I think there's little doubt that Senzel will join the Reds active roster at some point this season, even if it will cause the Reds to lose an option year for Senzel. Senzel needs to gain major league experience because he's likely going to be a starting infielder for the Reds in 2019. I expect to see Senzel called up to the Majors anytime from mid-July to beginning of September, depending on his performance at the Triple-A level. The only way I can see Senzel being in the Majors earlier than mid-July is if he's performing at a good rate in Triple-A, and an injury occurs to either Third baseman Eugenio Suarez or Shortstop José Peraza.
5. Should this teams expectation be up from last year?
-If the expectations were to be lower than the Reds would be in serious trouble. The Reds pitchers were dead last in ERA during the 2017 season, so there's nowhere to go but up from there. So long as these young pitchers stay healthy, than this starting staff and bullpen should be much better in 2018. MVP candidate First baseman Joey Votto is always exciting to watch. The power of Eugenio Suarez, Scott Schebler, and Adam Duvall adds even more excitement and potential for the lineup. The speed of Billy Hamilton is must watch television (or go to the ballpark yourself, I love doing so). On top of it, young guys like Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel should join the Reds lineup at some point this season. My level of excitement for this team in 2018 is high, and my expectation are slightly up from last season. However, sometimes young teams take time to gel before they can really compete for a playoff spot.