Cincinnati Reds: Three steps to becoming a World Series contender

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Nick Senzel #15 and Jose Iglesias #4 after the 5-4 win in 11 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on July 02, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Iglesias hit a game winning single that drove in Yasiel Puig #66 in the 11th inning. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Nick Senzel #15 and Jose Iglesias #4 after the 5-4 win in 11 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on July 02, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Iglesias hit a game winning single that drove in Yasiel Puig #66 in the 11th inning. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 25: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Step 2: Sign a veteran starting pitcher

Tyler Mahle pitched better than his statistics would have you believe. The right-hander was 3-12 with a 5.14 ERA in 25 starts. Going into 2019, Mahle was slated to begin the season at Triple-A Louisville. An injury to Alex Wood during spring training hastened the Reds addition of Mahle to starting rotation.

Mahle saw his K% increase from 21.7% in 2018 to 23.2% last season. An even bigger improvement was Mahle’s walk-rate, which dropped from 10.5% in 2018 to 6.1% in 2019. Mahle is trending in the right direction, but if the Reds are serious about making the postseason in 2020, adding an established starter to an already scary rotation would be encouraging.

Read. Jackie Bradley Jr. is not an upgrade in CF

There are umpteen different players to choose from, all of which offer different pluses and minuses. Names like Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, even Tanner Roark and the aforementioned Alex Wood are available.

We’ve seen during this postseason that there’s a premium put on starting pitching. The two teams competing in the World Series have two of the best starting rotations in the league. Even without a veteran addition, the Cincinnati Reds have a formidable starting rotation, but with injuries always a possibility, relying on the likes of Lucas Sims or Sal Romano should that occur don’t seem like a good contingency.

Derek Johnson did wonders for the Cincinnati pitching staff last season. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t provide the same tutelage to another reclamation project. Trevor Cahill, Derek Holland and Michael Wacha have all had success at the major league level in the past. Maybe it’s worth kicking the tires on a few veteran hurlers. Kevin Gausman is always a possibility as well; just not at what he’d make via arbitration.