Cincinnati Reds schedule: Three musts in order to make the postseason

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 03: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 03: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Why is the Reds schedule only 60 games this year?

The Cincinnati Reds will open the 2020 season at home against the Detroit Tigers on July 24th. The first pitch is slated for 6:10 PM with Luis Castillo likely to take the mound for the Reds. Cincinnati has struggled out of the gates the past two seasons and cannot afford to that in the abbreviated 2020 season.

In case you missed it, this year’s baseball season will consist of just 60 games. The coronavirus pandemic shutdown the sport during spring training and a back-and-forth between owners and players resulted in Commissioner Rob Manfred implementing a 60-game season instead of the normal 162.

The Reds bring one of the best rosters the fans of Cincinnati have seen since the 2012 season. After dominating performances from the pitching staff in 2019, Reds owner Bob Castellini opened his wallet this winter and spend over $165M on free agents who can help this club go all the way. However, if they’re going to get there, it won’t be easy. What are the keys to success?

The Reds must start fast.

The past two seasons have been a disaster during the month of April. Thank goodness the Reds don’t start this season until July. In 2018, Cincinnati began the season 3-18. Not to be outdone in 2019, the Redlegs got off to a 1-8 start and were out of the NL Central race before the season really got started.

This year, with only 60 games, there’s little room for error in early-going. The Reds don’t have to win every game, but after the first two weeks, Cincinnati needs to be at or above .500. The season will open with a seven-game homestand; a three-game tilt with the Detroit Tigers, followed by four straight games against the Chicago Cubs.

Cincinnati follows that up with eight of the next 10 games on the road. The Reds stop over in Motown for a three-game set with the Tigers, split a four-game home-and-home with the Indians before heading to Milwaukee for three games against the Brewers.

After those 17 games, Cincinnati receives its first of six off days. At the moment, the Reds would do well to be sitting somewhere around 10-7 or better. If the Reds are sitting below .500 at that point, it may be time to hit the panic button.

The Reds must take advantage of lesser competition.

There’s no cupcakes on the Reds schedule, but a few teams are rebuilding. The Tigers just picked up Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, so it’s pretty clear the direction Detroit is going. The Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a rebuild as well, and so are the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Cincinnati will play those three teams a grand total of 20 times during the 2020 season and cannot afford to drop too many of those contests. If this year’s club can somehow shoot for a record of 15-5 or 14-6 against those three teams, that would bode extremely well for David Bell’s group.

The Reds have more games against Detroit than any other team in the NL Central. The Tigers won just 47 games last season to earn that No. 1 pick in last month’s draft. Cincinnati needs to own Detroit to the tune of 5-1 this season. Doing so would mean that the Reds won five of their first nine games. Every game counts and this year’s squad must take care of business against teams they’re better than.

The Reds must defeat the Twins in the final series.

To be the man, you gotta beat the man! In a season in which the Reds will only see nine teams on their schedule, they need to take down the Minnesota Twins. I have to squint pretty hard to see an overwhelming difference between Cincinnati and every other team in the NL Central. Minnesota represents the best competition the Reds will face, and it’ll come on the road in September.

The final week of the season will be entertaining anyway. You know that so many teams will be vying for playoff spots during the last two weeks of the season. The Redlegs will get a six-game homestand against the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers before ending the season at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Minnesota won 101 games last season and returns with, arguably, a better roster. While the Indians still have Francisco Lindor and the White Sox added some talent via free agency, the Twins are still the class of the AL Central. Cincinnati must take two-of-three from Minnesota during the final series of the 2020 season.

Winter signings will be key to summer success. Next

Every game matters this season, folks. There’s no room for error. Despite the Cincinnati Reds’ additions this past winter, David Bell and company have their work cut out for them. If the Reds stay healthy, the sky is the limit for this year’s team. #TakeTheCentral