Predicting the Reds starting lineup versus left-handed pitchers

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell loves to play the matchups. That doesn't necessarily sit well with a certain contingent of Reds fans, but if the iPad tells him to do something, by golly Bell is going to listen to the technology.

Fans will see several players as part of the Reds everyday lineup regardless of who the opposing pitcher is. But there are a handful of players, I'm looking at you Jake Fraley, who has no business being in the starting lineup when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound.

With that in mind, Bell's lineup card will look a little different when a southpaw in on the bump instead of a right-handed pitcher. What will the Reds starting lineup look like against left-handed pitching? (Note: This is under the assumption that both Joey Votto and Nick Senzel are unavailable).

Predicting the Reds starting lineup vs. left-handed pitchers

1. Jonathan India, 2B

There are a lot of Reds fans who would love to see Jake Fraley batting atop the Cincinnati lineup. That's certainly not a bad choice, but against left-handed pitching, it's just not going to happen. Fraley posted an OPS of .861 against right-handed hurlers in 2022, but just .476 against southpaws.

During his rookie season, Jonathan India took off once David Bell inserted him into the leadoff spot. India admitted to chasing home runs in 2022, but is focused on getting back to the player he was during the 2021 season. Look for India to bat leadoff against lefties in 2023.

2. Spencer Steer, 3B

Finding a spot for Spencer Steer won't be hard on the defensive side of things. It appears as though the former Minnesota Twins farmhard will get the lion's share of starts at the hot corner. But where might Steer fit into the batting order?

Steer posted a .515 slugging percentage in the minor leagues last season and saw an increase in both his batting average and on-base percentage from his 2021 minor-league campaign. Steer's spot in the batting order might be a bit fluid for the first several weeks of the 2023 season.

3. Wil Myers, RF

Wil Myers was the Cincinnati Reds biggest addition this past offseason. The former San Diego Padres outfielder could see plenty of time at first base until Joey Votto returns to the lineup, but the lack of right-handed hitting outfielders will likely see Myers occupy right field against left-handed pitchers.

Myers is one of the few power bats in the Cincinnati lineup and probably slot behind Votto in the clean up spot once the former MVP returns. Until then, look for Myers to bat third in the Reds lineup.

Predicting the Reds starting lineup vs. left-handed pitchers

4. Tyler Stephenson, DH

I'm not necessarily a fan of Tyler Stephenson batting second, but it appears as though David Bell is. The Reds skipper has kept Stephenson right behind the leadoff batter throughout most of spring training, but hopefully things change once the regular season begins.

Stephenson is going to split time in 2023 between catching, playing first base, and acting as the team's designated hitter. In this instance, let's assume that Stephenson is Cincinnati's DH.

5. Chad Pinder, 1B

This is far from ideal, but until Joey Votto returns the Cincinnati Reds will be splitting first base duties between the trio of Tyler Stephenson, Wil Myers, and Chad Pinder. The former Oakland A's utility player has the defensive versatility to play almost anywhere on the diamond.

Pinder is not a high on-base player, with a .294 OBP for his career, but the 30-year-old does have some pop in his bat. Until the Reds are fully healthy or begin to call up some of their younger talent, look for Pinder to be a regular in David Bell's lineup, especially against left-handed pitchers.

6. Kevin Newman, SS

Shortstop is another position where there are multiple players invovled. Throughout camp, it's been a two-horse race between Jose Barrero and Kevin Newman. Despite his lack of success against major league pitching, the Reds still have confidence that Barrero can be an everyday player in the big leagues.

But let's give Newman the nod here. Newman's career-OPS is about 80 points higher when facing a left-handed pitcher, and this would be an easy way for David Bell to keep both shortstops fresh.

Predicting the Reds starting lineup vs. left-handed pitchers

7. TJ Friedl, CF

Now wait a minute. Why in the world would David Bell select the left-handed hitting TJ Friedl to bat against a left-handed pitcher? Well, Friedl just so happens to have reverse splits (he hit better against left-handers than right-handers in 2022).

Friedl struggled during the early part of last season, but a tuneup in Louisville helped the outfielder to make a big impact upon his return. Against southpaws, Friedl slashed .333/.455/.667 compared to .232/.301/.416 against right-handed pitchers.

8. Curt Casali, C

The Cincinnati Reds are going to employ three catchers this season. In an effort to keep Tyler Stephenson's bat in the game, David Bell is only going to play the 26-year-old behind the plate about four times every 10 days.

That means the other six days are to be allocated between veteran backstops Curt Casali and Luke Maile. For this exercise, we'll go with Casali, but he and Maile are essentially interchangeable when Stephenson is not in the lineup.

9. Nick Solak, LF

Left field is a bit of a black hole at the moment. TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley can both field the position, but with Friedl playing center field in this scenario and Fraley's track record versus lefties, perhaps this is where Nick Solak gets a chance to shine.

The Reds swung a deal with the Texas Rangers this offseason in order to bring the University of Louisville product to Cincinnati, and until Nick Senzel returns to the field, it's a good bet that Solak breaks camp with the team. Stuart Fairchild could play his way into this position as well.

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