Cincinnati Reds 2019 Season Preview
2018 Record: 67 – 95
Projected 2019 Record: 80 – 82
2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook
The 2018 season was a rough one for the Cincinnati Reds. They finished 14 games below .500 and deep in last place in the NL East. And 2018 was the 4th season in a row they finished in last place.
In fact, nothing has seemed to work since the Reds fired Dusty Baker back in 2013. They just hired a new manager, David Bell, who hopes to turn the team around. However, neither of the two ex-managers that followed Baker had any success, so Bell will have his hands full.
What went wrong in 2018? How did they do so poorly with guys like Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett? Well, first and foremost, their pitching was quite awful. They finished with a team ERA of 4.63, and none of the team’s starters were consistently dominant throughout the season. Secondly, Jim Riggleman evidently did not know how to manage the team nor navigate a tough NL East division.
If the Reds are to improve on their last four seasons, David Bell will need to get creative with his lineup and the pitching will need tons of improvement.
So, what will be different about the Reds in 2019? Let’s start with some of the new faces. Coming over from the Dodgers are two experienced outfielders, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. Both bring big bats and solid defense to an already strong lineup. Two other big additions that the Reds hope will bolster the pitching staff are Alex Wood and Sonny Gray. Gray comes over from the AL East and has split his career between the Yankees and A’s. Meanwhile, Wood comes over from the NL West and the Dodgers.
An important question to answer is what will the pitching rotation look like? Gray obviously would be a solid first choice, but you also have Luis Castillo and Alex Wood (although he’s currently injured).
No matter what happens, new manager Bell looks to improve and point the Reds in the right direction for future success.
2019 Starting Pitchers
This season will likely be a transitional one for Reds pitching. They hope to end all pitching woes and get back on track in both the bullpen and starting rotation. So, who are the key guys?
For starters, your unquestioned top 3 are Alex Wood, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray. Alex Wood was relatively solid in 2018. He went 9 – 7 with a 3.68 ERA. Another promising sign is that he has been solid consistently over the last three or four seasons. His main obstacle this year will be injury. There has been some spectulation, but there’s a good chance he’ll start the season on the DL.
Castillo is just 26 years of age and shows signs of developing into a solid young star. His numbers weren’t great in 2018, 10 – 12 with an ERA of 4.30, but they weren’t awful for someone in their second MLB season. He was recently named as Cincy’s opening day starter. He’s certainly got something to prove.
Gray has overall had a solid career but hasn’t been very lights out in recent years. He went 11 – 9 with the Yanks last year with an ERA just under 5.00.
Three other starters, Tanner Roark, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, will be fighting for the last two spots in the rotation. Roark is a new addition from the Nationals, where he pitched the last 6 seasons. Both DeSclafani and Mahle pitched for Cincy last season and neither had impressive seasons.
2019 Relief Pitchers
The Reds bullpen, year in and year out, raises some questions. Let’s see how it will shape up in 2019.
The closer will likely be the hard throwing Rasiel Iglesias. He was relatively good in 2018, finishing at a 2 – 5 mark with 30 saves and an ERA just under 2.40. He should be able to most similar numbers this season, but with more saves assuming the Reds can win some more games.
Other important relievers include Michael Lorenzen, David Hernandez, and Zach Duke. These guys will need to step up in many of the late inning/set up situations. The Reds have no Dellin Betances or Josh Hader, so the job will likely be split between these three guys, among others.
Despite a pitching staff that has been all over the place, the solidity of the Reds lineup seems to remain consistent year in and year out. That starts with Reds veteran and leader Joey Votto. Votto will be playing in his 13th MLB season in 2019 and is still going strong. He has shown few signs of slowing down and continues to be an all-star level first baseman.
Another important name is Scooter Gennett. Since joining the Reds in 2017, his bat has exploded, and he has proved his worth in the lineup as a serious offensive power. However, he recently had a freak groin injury in a spring training game. It is now official that he will be missing a minimum of 2 months of the season and will likely not return until June. Filling the space he leaves in the lineup will be tough.
Yasiel Puig always seems to be in the headlines. The “Wild Horse” provides another strong bat in the lineup and an even stronger arm in the outfield. He hasn’t quite lived up to his original expectations from when he was a prospect, but still proves to be an influential force in the lineup.
Another exciting Reds youngster is Jesse Winker. He has shown not only an ability to get on base but also exceptional base running ability. He even throws in a bit of power. Look for him to be batting at the top of the lineup.
And I guess we have to talk about Matt Kemp as well. While it is likely Kemp won’t be an everyday player, he is still a strong bat and will be important in pinch hitting positions. A few seasons ago, it was thought that his glory days from 2011-2012 were over. However, he had a revival with the Dodgers last season, batting .290 and knocking in 85 RBIs.
Eugenio Suarez, an all-star last season, has another incredibly strong bat as does Scott Schebler. Keep an eye out for big seasons from both of them as well.
Projected Starting Lineup
- Jesse Winker
- Eugenio Suarez
- Joey Votto
- Scooter Gennett
- Yasiel Puig
- Scott Schebler
- Jose Peraza
- Tucker Barnhart
Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers
Luis Castillo – Luis Castillo is coming off of an up and down season. The strikeouts were there, and Castillo has electric stuff. However, he was far too inconsistent. Castillo is still a reasonable fantasy target, with strikeout upside. He is just going to be very matchup dependent. Alex Wood is another arm that is a strong fantasy floor.
Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters
Joey Votto – Joey Votto’s power went way down, but he had his usual .417 OBP. I expect the power to bounce back to the 20-25 range, to go along with his other strong stats. With the Reds offense being better around Votto, he has a good chance to get back into prime fantasy form.
Yasiel Puig – Yasiel Puig is going to get a major bump playing in Cincinnati. The ballpark is better, and we gets regular playing time. Puig has 20-20 upside, and if he can shake the lengthy Puig slump that happens once a year, he has one of the higher ceilings of any outfielder.