The Cincinnati Reds haven’t made many moves, but they are better positioned than in 2017.
Following a pair of rough seasons, Cincinnati Reds fans look forward to a better season in 2018. It may appear that they have been losing talent. However, the current plan has been for the young talent to build its skill set.
The best news for the Reds is in the starting rotation. A full year of Luis Castillo will be exciting to watch, especially if he starts the first game of the year. The modern day Mario Soto should be good for at least 12 wins and 30 starts.
Tyler Mahle is exciting too. Of all of the young Reds’ pitchers, Mahle appears to be a workhouse, despite some control issues in his first start. In his first season, 29 starts and 160 innings pitched should be a conservative goal, if he makes the rotation out of spring training.
Another bright spot on the pitching staff will be the return of Brandon Finnegan. Unlike Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani, there is no reason to expect that Finnegan won’t be 100 percent to start the season. Whether he is starting or relieving, Finnegan has some of the best stuff on the staff.
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In the bullpen the signing of free agent Jared Hughes should help. He can either replace Michael Lorenzen as the set-up man if the righty makes the rotation. He can also pitch low leverage situations if Lorenzen stays in the rotation.
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The Cincinnati Reds also should see improvement out on the field.
The biggest change could be that Scooter Gennett will be the starting second baseman from the start of the season. He will provide consistency to the middle of the Reds’ line-up. The Reds will need a back-up for Gennett, though, as he can have trouble against elite left-handed starters.
Speaking of the bench, it should be better from the start. Second base prospect Dilson Herrera and outfielder Jesse Winker will lead a bench that will have more talent than last year’s group. Former top prospects like Alex Blandino and Phil Ervin could also fill out the bench.
The one spot for concern is shortstop. Jose Peraza is young, but he flopped as the starting second baseman in 2017. The Reds don’t have any other true shortstops on the forty man roster.
As long as the shortstop doesn’t entirely unravel the defense, the only thing that can slow down the Reds’ progression is injuries. If the starting rotation falls apart again, so too will the Reds’ season. Otherwise, there is no reason they can’t improve to .500 in 2018.