Cincinnati Reds’ fans have reason for optimism as 2017 season nears

Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK /

The Cincinnati Reds are in a better place entering 2017 than they were entering the 2016 season.

On Opening Day 2016, the Cincinnati Reds were sending their rookie number five starter to the mound.  They had just signed Alfredo Simon to join the rotation and John Lamb was the number four starter.  Left field was a combination of Adam Duvall, Tyler Holt, and Scott Schebler.

Fast forward to spring of 2017 and the Reds are better across the board.  In the rotation are  the usual suspects in an injured Anthony DeSclafani and a healthy Brandon Finnegan with Homer Bailey also injured as usual.  This year, though, they are backed by Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, the efficient Tim Adleman, and reliever Scott Feldman, instead of Lamb and Simon.

The bullpen is even better.  J.J. Hoover got a raw deal to start being sent down after only 2 save chances, but he wasn’t alone in under performing.  Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani will likely be the only holdovers from the first half of last year when it was the worst in all of baseball.

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The three people at the back end are new to their roles with the Reds since the beginning of last season.  Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, who saved the bullpen in the second half of last season, and Drew Storen are in the bullpen to start this season.  The Reds also signed swingman Feldman to support the middle innings.

The Cincinnati Reds are also more prepared with their position players entering 2017 than they were for 2016.

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All eight of the projected starting position players were in Cincinnati at the start of last season.  The biggest change is that both Scott Schebler and Adam Duvall are in the starting line-up instead of platooning in left.  The Reds also have a better idea of what they have in Duvall, Schebler, and third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

The Reds are also much better on the bench.  They replaced Ivan DeJesus and Tyler Holt on the bench with Desmond Jennings and Ryan Raburn.  They also have Arismendy Alcantara and Tony Renda ready in reserve, if needed.

The catching position is still a bit of a mystery.  Devin Mesoraco enters 2017 with his health even more of a question mark than last year.  Tucker Barnhart is still there, but the Reds also have  several minor league free agents and Rule 5 draftee Stephen Turner.

Overall, the clean-up spot in the line-up may be the most problematic.  Duvall doesn’t seem to have enough OBP skill to bat there.  Schebler following Joey Votto as the only two lefties doesn’t make much sense, either.  If Dilson Herrera could be the starting second baseman, he could slide in there nicely.

Next: Reds need to keep some veterans to start turnaround

Regardless of the specifics of the 2017 season, this will be a tough year.  The Reds look better heading into the season than they did a year ago, though.  They have a little more depth, but more importantly, their prospects are now playing in Cincinnati.  Hopefully this is the beginning of the turn around.