The Cincinnati Reds would have had a competitive team in 2016, if all of their regulars had been healthy.
It’s easy to be down on the Cincinnati Reds after the past two seasons. Then you need to look a little more closely what happened. In 2015 they didn’t have much talent, but in 2016 things had changed.
Think back to opening day 2016 and it is quickly easy to see how the wheels feel off of the season. The opening day rotation didn’t have either of the top two starters. The eventual opening day starter entered training camp penciled in at the number five spot.
Homer Bailey was supposed to be the opening day starter in 2016. Bailey has a 60-54 lifetime record over 1033 innings. In 2016 Bailey was only available for 23 innings. This off-season has been close to normal, meaning he has been hunting.
The other missing starter was Anthony DeSclafani. He was penciled in as the opening day starter until the week before the season started. DeSclafani ended up making 20 starts, covering 123 1/3 innings.
The primary replacement for Bailey was late spring training signing, former Red Alfredo Simon, who may just be back in 2017. He looked injured from the start of the season and ended up being shutdown. That wasn’t until after he started eleven games, going 2-7.
John Lamb covered DeSclafani’s starting spot until the righty returned. After the end of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays bought John Lamb’s contract. That’s right. He made 14 starts, literally in DeSclafani’s spot, and is now a Tampa Bay Ray.
The Cincinnati Reds had issues at positions besides starting pitching as well in 2016.
The most noticeable injury on the field early in the season was to catcher Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco played a handful of games before his season ended early. He ended up batting .140 with a .218 OBP.
Another player that did not make it through the season was shortstop Zack Cozart. A knee injury ended Cozart’s season for the second year in a row. He played eight games in September before knee tendinitis shut him down.
Centerfielder BIlly Hamilton also ended his season early for the second year in a row. 2014 is the only season in Hamilton’s career that he has made it through an entire MLB season healthy. The Reds need a healthy Hamilton for this team to work in 2017.
It is more than just slotting Jose Peraza into center field. When Cozart and Hamilton went down, the Reds ended up playing their new right fielder, Scott Schebler, in center. They also let minor league infielder, Hernan Iribarren, start games in center.
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The Reds are not a great team. They have little room for error. What MLB team could lose 40% of their rotation and their starting catcher and still be good?