Cincinnati Reds: Predicting the Opening Day batting order

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 28: Phillip Ervin #6 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 28: Phillip Ervin #6 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Reds will face Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd on Friday.

We saw the Cincinnati Reds defeat the Detroit Tigers 9-7 during Tuesday’s exhibition at Great American Ball Park. José De León takes the ball tonight for Cincinnati’s final exhibition before Friday’s opener against Detroit. What will the Reds Opening Day batting order look like against Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd?

We saw David Bell play the percentages early and often in 2019. I’d expect more of the same in 2020, especially given that the second-year manager has even more weapons at his disposal during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Shogo Akiyama was brought in to be an offensive force at the top of the Reds batting order and was just that on Tuesday night. Expect Akiyama, regardless of who the opposing pitcher is, to be the Reds leadoff hitter throughout the majority of the 2020 season. I could see Nick Senzel getting a handful of starts at the top of the order, but not when Akiyama is in the lineup.

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You might as well book Joey Votto for the No. 2 spot on Opening Day. After years of being the Reds No. 3 hole hitter, Votto hit from the No. 2 spot in the order on 121 occasions last season. Votto’s slash line of .276/.369/.432 as the No. 2 hitter in 2019 would serve Cincinnati well if the veteran were able to duplicate that performance in 2020.

Grab a pen and write Eugenio Suárez’s name in as the Reds No. 3 hitter on Opening Day and virtually every other game this season. Suárez is the team’s best bat and was second in the majors last season with 49 homers. If Akiyama and Votto reach base as we know they can, Suárez may lead the league in RBIs this season.

Free agent signee Mike Moustakas is thee perfect complement to Geno as the team’s cleanup hitter. Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, Moose floated between No. 3 and No. 6 spots in the batting order, with 47 starts coming at the No. 4 hole. The lefty Votto, followed by the right-handed hitting Suárez gives David Bell the perfect spot to go with another lefty in Moustakas.

The No. 5 will be home to Nick Castellanos on most nights. However, if Votto is given the night off, the No. 2 hole would certain the former Chicago Cubs right fielder quite well. The question for Cincinnati’s Opening Day lineup is where Castellanos will line up defensively, if at all.

Against former teammate and left-handed pitcher Matthew Boyd, the right-handed slugger is sure to be the starting lineup. But, I’m thinking that Castellanos may be the team’s designated hitter rather the Opening Day right fielder. I’ll explain why later.

The No. 6 spot in the order should go to centerfielder Nick Senzel. After sitting out earlier this spring following shoulder surgery, Senzel is 100% and will likely share center field duties with Akiyama. But, on Opening Day, I expect Senzel to be up the middle while Akiyama sets up in left field.

Batting seventh, I think we’re going to see Phillip Ervin. That may surprise some fans throughout Reds Country, but I expect Ervin to get the start over Jesse Winker and play the field while Castellanos occupies the role of designated hitter.

Ervin absolutely demolished left-handed pitching last season. The former first-round pick slashed .349/.411/.628 against southpaws in 2019. Ervin’s a tick better defensively than Castellanos, and after missing the past few days after receiving a fastball in the back, it makes sense for Ervin to occupy right field while Castellanos fills in as the DH.

As for the No. 8 position, I expect we’ll see Freddy Galvis, who went yard during last night’s exhibition game against the Tigers. Galvis hit a career-high 23 homers in 2019, giving the Reds a legitimate power-hitter at the shortstop position.

Finally, I think we’ll see Curt Casali hanging the signs for Sonny Gray on Friday evening. The Vandy Boys, who worked out during the pandemic, will likely be battery mates on Opening Night against Detroit. With Tucker Barnhart switching exclusively to hit left-handed, it makes sense that Bell would go with the right-handed hitting Casali against the lefty Boyd.

Next. Reds Opening Day roster predictions

So, there you have it. Look for the Cincinnati Reds to run out Akiyama, Votto and Suárez to open the bottom of the first inning on Friday night. Those three will be followed by Moustakas, Castellanos, Senzel, Ervin, Galvis and Casali. If the Reds are able to chase Boyd early, all bets are off as to who David Bell brings in as the pitching matchups change.