The Cincinnati Reds have been NL Central contenders for the last few years, but Pittsburgh and St. Louis have taken control of the division. The destiny of the Reds rides on the health of Joey Votto, who missed a huge chunk of time in two of the last three seasons.
The Reds will rely heavily on their starting rotation. They do have a slight edge in that category over the top teams in the NL Central. They need their offense to come back (28th in Runs Scored in 2014) in order to take advantage of having aces Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey.
Can Devin Mesoraco become an elite catcher?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Cincinnati Reds.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 76-86
Key Additions: OF Marlon Byrd, SP Anthony DeSclafani, RP Burke Badenhop, SP Matt Magill, SS Eugenio Suarez, RP Kevin Gregg, SP Paul Maholm, SP Jason Marquis, 1B Josh Satin & OF Brennan Boesch
Key Losses: SP Mat Latos, SP Alfredo Simon, OF Ryan Ludwick, OF Chris Heisey & 3B Ramon Santiago
Interleague Schedule: AL Central
Projected Starters: Devin Mesoraco, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Marlon Byrd, Billy Hamilton & Jay Bruce
Projected Starting Rotation: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani & Anthony DeSclafani
Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Marlon Byrd – There isn’t anything sexy about owning Marlin Byrd on your fantasy team, but he could help out your team. He should have a nice season playing 81 games in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. You won’t be able to get another player with the capability of hitting 20+ homers and 75 RBI as late in the draft.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Jesse Winker – He may not end up in the Majors by September, but he’s a player to keep an eye on for 2016. He has the skills to be a .300 hitter and hit nearly 30 homers. His skills suit Cincinnati’s GAB. He could be a really nice addition to the Reds when he’s ready.
Team Analysis: The Reds are in a weird position. On paper, they should be a playoff contender, but something is wrong. Joey Votto hasn’t produced at his usual rate (or stayed healthy) since signing his big contract and some of their so-called ‘can’t miss’ prospects like Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce and Tony Cingrani have yet to live up to their hype.
It’s not too late for the Reds to right the ship, but if they get off to a slow start in 2015, GM Walt Jocketty could get impatient and start making deals. The payroll Cincinnati has on the books is for a team trying to win a ring. If it’s not working out, it could be time to see what pieces Jocketty can move. I don’t think a total rebuild is necessary, but they do need to change things up.
The Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs have all made moves to improve their team. The Reds may have felt that they didn’t need to do much and were happy with their roster. The most glaring problem with the Reds is depth. If Joey Votto or Todd Frazier goes down, who will step up and fill their spot? The answer to that question is Brayan Pena and Kris Negron. I like Pena, but he’s not someone who should be a starter on a contender. The Reds will finish fourth in the NL Central and a few key pieces could be moved by the trade deadline.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 78.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 78-84 (4th in NL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.