It has been seven grueling years for Reds fans, as 2013 marks the last time the once Big-Red-Machine from Cincinnati reached the playoffs – which did not turn out too hot for them in the Wild Card round. This game was widely remembered for the 40,000 Pirates fans in PNC Park repeatedly chanting Johnny Cueto’s name, eventually causing him to drop the ball on the mound. Having this pressure disrupt him, Cueto allowed a solo shot to Pirates catcher Russel Martin, which sailed deep into left field on the cold Pittsburgh night, causing Pirates fans to erupt in mass frenzy. The rest of the game was forgettable for Cincinnati, as they would lose 6-2 to the Pirates; their entire season wasted in a single night. Since this embarrassing loss, Cincinnati has wept in the basement of the NL Central, watching the Brewers, Cubs, and Cardinals ascend to glory. Beyond this, attendance has plummeted, as the Reds have played in near-empty stadiums on a frequent basis due to their lack of success.
New Year New Me
Despite a period of mediocrity, on January 27, the Reds signed Nick Castellanos, an underrated, 27-year-old right fielder who led the league with 58 doubles in 2019. Last month, the Reds also signed slugger Mike Moustakas from the Milwaukee Brewers, one of Cincinnati’s biggest rivals, enhancing a lineup packed with powerful potential. 2019 provided a optimism for diehard Reds fans. Although the Reds finished fourth in the NL Central, they managed to have a run differential of just -10, substantially better than any other team that finished below .500. This is mainly due to the Red’s overshadowed lineup, with newcomers Castellanos and Moustakas adding power to this already formidable hitting arsenal. The Reds projected lineup in 2020 holds five noteworthy sluggers, highlighted by Joey Votto, Aristides Aquino, Castellanos, Moustakas, as well as Eugenio Suarez – who finished second in the league with 49 home runs in 2019, breaking the single season home run record for any Venezuelan-born player. If you face a Red’s lineup that includes Moustakas’s 35 home runs and Castellanos 58 doubles from 2019, well… Good Luck Charlie.
Moreover, the Reds’ pitching rotation is backed by a slew of All-Star pitchers, led by ace, Sonny Gray, with an impressive 2.87 ERA – his best since leaving the Oakland A’s in 2017. The Reds rotation also features Trevor Bauer. Although he has faced difficulties adjusting to his Ohio migration from Cleveland to Cincinnati, Bauer has proven his credibility in leading the Indians to the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2016-2018. The rotation also features an imposing Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani – whose numbers have improved with longer tenures in the league, as both players boasted sub-4 ERAs and 160+ strikeouts in 2019. The Reds’ bullpen also holds flamethrower Raisel Iglesias and utility wizard Michael Lorenzen; the poor man’s Shohei Ohtani. Combine this pitching arsenal with the impressive lineup, the Reds are primed to send a warning to their friends in the National League Central division: *The Cincinnati Reds have entered the chat*.
A New Hope
It is important to recognize that the Reds compete in the weakest division in the MLB, as the Cardinals managed to win the division with 91 wins over the injury-plagued Brewers in 2019. When analyzing the NL Central, there is a velvet seat at the top of the division, and it has the Reds’ name on it. Though the Cardinals always seem to be playoff contenders, the Reds just stole two key bats from the Brewers and Cubs lineup – Moustakas and Castellanos respectively. Aside from Moustakas, the Brew Crew also lost All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal to the White Sox, hurting their case for contention in 2020. The Chicago Cubs are no longer the juggernauts they were in 2016, and the Pirates… they have some work to do – leaving the Reds one small click away from catapulting themselves atop the NL Central. Barring the roster maintains their health, the Reds have the best rotation in the division, with Castellanos sealing the deal in their lineup. With Spring training just around the corner, there is a new enemy approaching and their name is the Cincinnati Reds.