Cincinnati Reds face uphill battle in National League Central

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds are staring another 90-loss season in the eyes.

Last year the Cincinnati Reds tried to catch the Pittsburgh Pirates for fourth place in the National League Central.  Right now, it looks like 2018 will be a repeat of that show.  The Pirates look like a potentially stronger team even with the loss of Andrew McCutchen, negating a modest improvement for the Reds.

Creating an exact win-loss number is always difficult.  Taking a less than scientific approach, the bullpen is a wash and the offense is likely on too.  The starting rotation’s health should be worth one win and Luis Castillo being in the rotation for a full season should be worth two more after coming over in the Dan Straily deal last off-season.

That places the Reds at 71-91.  That feels pessimistic, but there were no major moves this off-season and others agree with a win total in this neighborhood.  The shortstop position is also very weak right now.

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The fact of the matter is that free agent signees Jared Hughes and David Hernandez are only marginally better than the traded Tony Cingrani and the departed Drew Storen.  The Reds didn’t address the loss of opening day starter Scott Feldman, nor the loss of All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart this off-season.

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Without help on defense or in the starting rotation, the Cincinnati Reds are destined for the NL Central cellar.

The Reds are slowly getting better, but they still have the worse pitching/defense combination in the NL.  As the pitching slowly increases in talent, the defense is slightly worse in the middle infield.  Of course, the Reds still play in Great American Ballpark, which plays small at times.

The Reds also play in the ultra-competitive NL Central.

With the improvements that they Saint Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers made this off-season, the Reds will give up more runs to their in division rivals.

The Chicago Cubs also look like a team focusing on offense.  That cannot help the Reds keep teams from scoring, when three of the teams they play the most often are looking to score more runs.  They may have a better offense than the Pirates, but the rest of the division outclasses the Reds.

Next: Reds sign Oliver Perez

Thanks to the Miami Marlins’ fire sale this past off-season, the Reds won’t be the worst team in the NL.  They will battle the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves to avoid being the second worse team in the NL.  At the end of the day,  there will be about four teams worse than them in MLB in 2018.