MLB.com Projects Opening Day Roster

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It’s that time of year again! The start of baseball means warmer days are just around the corner. It also means predictions and projections from the media. This week, Mark Sheldon, the Cincinnati Reds beat writer for MLB.com, posted his projected starting lineup and rotation for the 2016 season.

Note: For the fans who were still watching at the end of 2015, it might not look that different.

While this year of transition for the Reds means new, young players, familiar faces still dot the batting order.

According to MLB.com, the Reds are projected to finish 64-98 and in last place in the NL Central. This is one of the more generous projections as others are predicting the Reds to lose more than 100 games.

While the projected starting lineup isn’t much different from last year, notable names are missing (Todd Frazier); however, six of the projected starters were in the lineup on Opening Day one year ago. The lineup falls as follows:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Devin Mesoraco, C
  5. Jay Bruce, RF
  6. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  7. Adam Duvall, LF
  8. Zack Cozart, SS

Sheldon mentions that Hamilton could bat first or ninth, depending on how much he improves on his ability to get on base. If Hamilton struggles early in the season, Bryan Price could move him down the lineup, similar to 2015. Duvall is the projected left fielder, but that position is up for grabs. Another player could surprise in spring training or the Reds could platoon Duvall and a left-handed hitter.

The projected starting rotation is not as set as most of the batting lineup, due in part to Homer Bailey not being ready until at least mid-May, plus and in part to the surplus of young pitchers the Reds have acquired. Here’s the rotation that MLB.com projects on Opening Day:

  1. RHP Anthony DeSclafani
  2. RHP Raisel Iglesias
  3. RHP Michael Lorenzen
  4. RHP Jon Moscot
  5. LHP Brandon Finnegan

Look for DeSclafani to be the Opening Day starter come April 4. Lorenzen and Finnegan will both start the season in the rotation, but when Homer Bailey comes back, one of them will likely be moved to the bullpen. Moscot is returning from shoulder surgery, and while he’s probably ready to go, it will be interesting to see how he performs given he did not get much of an opportunity to pitch in the majors before his injury.

MLB.com’s prediction for the bullpen is an interesting one because the bullpen is as wide open as left field. As expected, J.J. Hoover is projected to be the closer after Aroldis Chapman was traded in the offseason. However, it is difficult to predict who will be the set-up man for Hoover. Sheldon lists Blake Wood as the RH set-up man and Tony Cingrani as the LH set-up man.

Wood hasn’t pitched in a significant number of games in the majors since 2011 with the Royals; however, at AAA in 2015 with the Indians he recorded a 3.53 ERA.

Cingrani has the talent to be a set-up man, but he needs to work on throwing strikes. If his control is all over the place, as it was last season, he won’t be the set-up man for long. Other candidates for the bullpen include Jumbo Diaz, Carlos Contreras, Kelvin Sampson, Chris O’Grady and Stephen Johnson.

What do you think of Shelton’s run-down? Love it? Hate it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!