Cincinnati Reds: When will we see the playoffs again?

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have not sniffed the playoffs since 2013, and even that year they were one and done. When’s the next time fans can expect a playoff run?

We are all fully aware of the great history of the Cincinnati Reds. After all, this is the franchise that has 15 playoff appearances, 10 National League Championships, and 5 World Series Championships. Reds Country and the City of Cincinnati are well aware of what a winning baseball team looks like. The Reds fanbase and to a certain degree Major League Baseball fans fully expect a playoff quality team. When and how, are the key questions that I’ll attempt to answer.

Baseball fans enjoy discussing the game of baseball with fellow fans. Some of my best friends are fans of the Braves, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates. My token Cubs friend boldly predicted that the Reds would finish second in the NL Central in 2018 behind his Cubbies.

My Braves friend is fully aware that Cincinnati possesses more baseball culture than Atlanta could ever hope to have, even with their new beautiful SunTrust Park. During any given Reds ballgame, Reds Twitter is alive with some of the most enthusiastic baseball fans out there. The Reds fanbase is ready for a winner.

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  • Opposing fanbases scratch their heads and wonder out loud with the nucleus of players and deep baseball tradition, why the Reds aren’t winning. The question however remains, when will we see the playoffs again?

    The Cincinnati Reds have the potential to contend for the playoffs as early as 2019. Before you either roll your eyes or think that I’m a complete idiot, I’d like to break a few things down that this one fan sees.

    In spite of five straight horrific seasons, there is a core group of players that can play winning baseball. The infield consists of All-Star caliber players. The pitching staff showed signs of improvement following the infusion of Matt Harvey into the starting lineup (more on that later). When healthy, the outfield is fully capable of playing significant parts in the success of this team.

    I have thought a number of times in recent weeks how close to .500 the 2018 Cincinnati Reds could have finished had Scott Schebler not been injured right after the All-Star break and Jesse Winker could have played the final two months of the season. Let’s also not forget the shot in the arm that Senzel guy would have given the team had he avoided the injury bug and had the opportunity to finish the season in Cincinnati.

    The bullpen was solid in 2018. The acquisitions of both Jared Hughes and David Hernandez were prudent and they proved stellar. We saw signs that Amir Garrett could be a beast (see the Cubs series at home in late June) where he came out of the pen resembling one of the Nasty Boys. Iglesias was solid, if and when save opportunities presented themselves. I have little to no concern with the pen, assuming it is not overworked by the All-Star Break.

    Starting pitching…ah starting pitching. As alluded to earlier, if nothing else the Harvey trade breathed some life into this team. The Reds played winning baseball. It showed some signs that the Reds front office was perhaps making an investment into actually winning a few games in 2018 after that horrid 3-18 start.

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    For a moment, let’s make an assumption that the Reds are able to sign Harvey in the offseason and Anthony DeSclafani can give the team a complete injury-free season. Let’s also make another assumption that the combination of Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Cody Reed or even Michael Lorenzen could become a truly viable starter (i.e. Mike Leake or the 2012-2013 version of Homer Bailey), this leaves the need of two starting pitchers to be acquired via trade or free agency.

    Ownership has already stated that they are committed to increasing payroll for 2019, with the intent to acquire starting pitching. There a handful of trade chips on the 40-man roster as well, including one of my favorite Reds, Billy Hamilton. It is going to be very interesting to see what Bob C. will allow Dick Williams and Nick Krall do this offseason. If the handcuffs come off and checkbook opened, as much as it can be in Cincinnati, then this team has a chance in 2019.

    Reds Country is sick of the notion of a rebuild. We were painfully gutted as fan favorites Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, and Aroldis Chapman were dealt away. In retrospect, the Reds have been without a Major League manager since the decision was made to fire Dusty Baker at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

    We have collectively suffered, tried to be patient, and held out some hope of optimism that the there was light at the end of the proverbial “rebuild tunnel”. For the first time since 2013, I am optimistic about this Cincinnati Reds organization. David Bell being named as manager last week was a big step in the right direction. I predict that Bell will have an immediate positive impact on the culture of this team.

    Next. Way too early 25-man roster prediction for 2019

    I will take it a step further, I predict that this streak of five seasons of losing baseball are in the rearview mirror when the Reds’ 2019 season commences. With a stroke of luck, the anticipated key additions of two quality starting pitchers will propel this team into the 2019 playoff race. If not, then I fully expect the Cincinnati Reds to resume their place in meaningful October baseball games by 2020. Better days are ahead my friends.